Huge Opportunities at Montrose PortNeil Hardie
In terms of the wider economy, Montrose Port can be overlooked as an influential business hub tucked away at the top end of the Angus coast.
However, this year more than ever Montrose Port has shown itself to be resilient, adaptable and pragmatic in the face of unprecedented global challenges – punching above its weight in attracting new opportunities to the area. To say chief executive Tom Hutchison is proud of his team and community is an understatement.
I would count ourselves among the lucky ones – our business remains strong and robust, our team has all managed to stay safe, and we have a number of extremely exciting announcements to make shortly – however the last year has not been without its challenges.
We experienced a drop in vessel movements and cargo tonnage from 625 vessels and a gross tonnage of 2,903,640 in 2019-20 to 489 vessels and a gross tonnage of 2,014,039 in 2020-21.
Ultimately, the biggest issue caused by Covid though has been the change to daily procedures in order to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
However, we have been very fortunate with the timing, in that we had just transitioned to using the innovative Marlin SmartPort software that enabled quayside and office staff to minimise time onsite, allowing us to reassure stakeholders that we could rise to the challenges.
At the start of the pandemic, we took part in the weekly cheer for carers, with ships sounding their horns at 8pm each week.
This sound could be heard across Montrose and the response was unbelievable – we could really feel the community coming together.
This is why I feel it is only right to take this opportunity again to Pay a special thank you to our NHS staff and all key workers who, in the face of incredible personal risk, continue to work tirelessly to keep the country moving.
The coming months do though bring opportunities, not least with the imminent opening of the new operations and maintenance base for the Seagreen offshore wind farm. We are on track for the base to open its doors in November, around the same time as the first vessels will begin sailing from Montrose for the wind farm’s construction, by SSE Renewables and TotalEnergies.
As a trust port, our links with the local community remain at the heart of everything we do and Seagreen is no exception.
Throughout the construction of the base, both ourselves and the Seagreen consortium have pledged to use local contractors where possible and this is a commitment which will be carried on throughout the 25 year lifespan of the base.
We recently appointed Pert Bruce, a fifth generation family business in Montrose as the lead contractor for the base, which in turn appointed various local businesses to work on the site.
The new communications mast for the wind farm has been installed by Aberdeen firm PD&MS Group who repurposed it from another renewables project in the Moray Firth, a prime example of how we work with other businesses to find the solution which meets our values as much as it satisfies budgets.
Work is under way now to change all floodlighting in the port from halogen to LED which will not only save us a substantial amount of money on our energy bills, but also significantly lower our carbon emissions. We also have plans over the next year to install Solar PV to the roofs of all our warehouses, electrifying our vehicle fleet, and installing electric vehicle charging points for port vehicles, staff, tenants and visitors – all working towards our aim of being Scotland’s greenest port.
We also take pride in being forward-thinking and are always open to partnering with other local businesses to drive the economy forward and make Montrose, and the wider Angus region, an exciting place to do business. To this end, we were delighted to support Subsea engineering firm Oceaneering, as they tested their PECMAG technology within our port boundaries.
This was a great success and positioned us as a port for the future as well as one which is deeply embedded into the local community.
It is important for us that we embrace change, being smaller in size, it is a huge benefit in being able to react quickly in response to market needs.
while 2020-21 was an extremely challenging year for us, it also showed us how resilient we are as a business, but also as a community and I believe we will come back from this stronger than ever.