THE North Ayrshire economy will be given a major boost by a new cable manufacturing plant at Hunterson, the area's MSP has predicted.

Kenneth Gibson says there were fears the huge development - expected to bring around 900 jobs to the area - could have gone to Teesside until he intervened.

XLCC, the company behind the £1.4 billion Hunterston plans, says the development is a "cornerstone project" which is "set to play a critical role in establishing an interconnected network of subsea cables that will drive the future of global energy supplies".Largs and Millport Weekly News: XLCC perspective: design image XLCC perspective: design image (Image: XLCC)

The XLCC website states that by 2025, the facility will support 900 jobs in the area, with thousands more in the wider supply chain.

The first test cables are expected to be produced in the next few weeks, with live production starting a year later and the first cables leaving the factory in early 2025.

In May 2023, after winning planning permission, the company said start in early 2024, with cable production slated for 2026. 

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Bright prospects: Kenneth Gibson MSP believes good times are coming with XLCC boost to districtBright prospects: Kenneth Gibson MSP believes good times are coming with XLCC boost to district (Image: Kenneth Gibson MSP)

Asked whether XLCC were on course to meet these projected dates, Mr Gibson said: "It is still on course for 2025 to 2026 to start.

"I have spoken to [project director] Alan Mathers in the last two weeks and he has says that they are still on course for that."

Asked about the recruitment of 900 people, Mr Gibson said: "They are actually recruiting with jobs there from last October, and they have been putting together a core team.

"It will grow exponentially from there but as far as I am aware there is no slippage, and they are still very much on course.

"I was very much involved in securing this project as it was going to go to Teeside till I persuaded the council to bring forward the planning decision by eight weeks.

"This is going to be huge for the area, and the supply chain."

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Largs town centre Largs town centre (Image: Newsquest)

Concerns have been aired over the number of businesses closing in the area in recent months, but Mr Gibson insists better times are coming once XLCC's plant is fully up and running.

"The shops and the hospitality industry in the North Ayrshire area maybe hurting just now," he said, "but when this opens, it is going to have many economic spin-offs.

"When you take into consideration the supply chain too, it will be a major boost, and not just from tourists but people that live here in the area."

The facility will manufacture thousands of kilometres of cable every year, with the finished products transferred via the existing jetty on to ships that will transport them to offshore and interconnector projects.

The development will include two factories, research and development laboratories, offices, stores, electrical infrastructure and a high-tech cable delivery system.

One business owner already looking forward to the plant becoming operational is Daniel McKinnon, the owner of Grill'd takeaway in Fairlie, which opened on February 1.

When he announced his plans last autumn, Daniel said: "With the cable manufacturing development at Hunterston set to attract 900 jobs, we are also hoping that there will be spin-offs from that."