IN Friday’s Long Letter, I was shocked to read that the Hunterston Quay is about to be demolished.

In the 1960s, the then world-renowned Colvilles steel group originally designed the Hunterston import terminal to serve a fully integrated steelmaking site on its land on the Ayrshire coast. Its plans would have created a world-competitive production site for steel plate, in support of shipbuilding on the Clyde, Belfast and elsewhere.

Sadly, the Labour government of Harold Wilson nationalised all UK steelmaking in 1967 and a consequence of that was a much watered-down plan for Scottish steel that left Hunterston with the import terminal and a sop of a Midrex direct reduction plant that became a financial disaster.

That outcome resulted from the limited resources of the new British Steel being largely focused on the complete rationalisation of steelmaking on Teesside, to create a massive integrated steelmaking site at Redcar/Middlesbrough.

Whereas Colvilles sought to concentrate steelmaking on a coastal site away from Motherwell, the Labour Party’s nationalisation heralded the painfully slow demise of liquid steel production at Ravenscraig, with its eventual closure leaving Hunterston largely devoid of purpose.

In 1977, another Labour government, this time led by James Callaghan, forced through the nationalisation of shipbuilding that was largely to blame for the almost complete destruction of the Clyde shipbuilding industry.

The news that British Shipbuilding Corporation was to be headquartered at Newcastle on Tyneside, the home of Swan Hunter – major competitors to Scottish shipyards – was dire to folks on the Clyde!

Little wonder that Scott-Lithgow’s plan for major expansion of their Port Glasgow yards was not fulfilled, and without that expansion they eventually had to close.

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As an aside, pause for thought all you who favour UK-wide nationalisation of any industry under a UK Labour government, and think just what an utter disaster it would be for Scotland if Labour were to nationalise the energy industry.

Now we have the Peel Ports group demolishing the Hunterston terminal, a world-class deep water port capable of berthing bulk carriers of up to 350,000dwt in size, with land behind that possibly could be used for major new developments in shipbuilding and steel production or processing.

Peel Ports are also sitting in ownership of the Inchgreen dry dock on the Clyde, which facility I understand has the interest of Ferguson Marine in its future plans.

The Peel Ports business lies within the Peel Group, whose majority shareholder is an Isle of Man-based tax-minimising company owned by John Whittaker. Mr Whittaker is an avowed supporter of the government’s Northern Powerhouse concept and his Peel Group is a major investor in shipbuilding, dockyards, etc in the north-west of England, especially Cammell Laird – competitor to Fergus Marine for ferries and also in a “teaming agreement” with BAE systems to bid for the build of Type 31e frigates in England.

The Inchgreen drydock and the Hunterston terminal should be considered as major industrial assets for Scotland that could possibly be developed to our advantage.

I would urge Holyrood to seek an immediate stop to the demolition of the Hunterston terminal and to engage with Peel Ports, Liberty Steel, Ferguson Marine and others to investigate the best future use for all Peel Ports facilities in Scotland.

Alan Adair