Aberdeen South Harbour: a project of national significance

After seven years of masterplanning, design and consultation, in June 2017 work began to build Aberdeen Harbour Board’s £350 million flagship expansion project, South Harbour. We supported Aberdeen at every stage of the development. 

Significant project, significant challenges

Aberdeen Harbour is expanding into neighbouring Nigg Bay. Construction work started in June 2017, and South Harbour will begin operating in 2021. Once complete, the harbour will add 1700 metres of quay length to service the offshore oil, gas and wind industries, cruise ships and ferries. creating significant economic growth opportunities for the harbour and its customers. 

It’s the largest greenfield port development project in the UK for many years, and the Scottish Government consider it a project of national significance.
Located on the east coast of Scotland, Nigg Bay is exposed to severe waves; under certain conditions, waves can reach over eight metres in height. The design, construction and operation of the new harbour presented some significant challenges.

Fast-forward on design optimisation
Comprehensive support at every stage

HR Wallingford’s team worked with Aberdeen Harbour Board from the conceptual stages of the development, right through to the construction.

We helped Aberdeen Harbour Board masterplan the development. Our pre-feasibility, feasibility and detailed design work has helped to ensure that the design, construction and operation of the new harbour provides the best possible solution for Aberdeen Harbour Board. Our integrated suite of technology and tools has helped us to deliver a lower cost and safer design, potentially saving our client millions of pounds sterling.

Studies have included extensive modelling of waves and currents, layout and breakwater design, navigation simulation in the state-of-the-art UK Ship Simulation Centre and support to the environmental approvals.

2D and 3D hydraulic physical modelling of the harbour was used to test the proposed design and layout, and to verify and optimise the performance of the harbour’s breakwaters under a range of wave conditions.

A virtual reality simulation of the new harbour was set up in our UK Ship Simulation Centre, The simulation was underpinned by HR Wallingford’s ship models, tidal flow, wave and wind models. This allowed harbour pilots to navigate different vessels into the harbour under different conditions to check and optimise the layout. 

Project snapshots

HR Wallingford’s team used a comprehensive package of tools and technology on the Nigg Bay project. Their expertise and approach has enabled us to get planning consents and optimise the design of the harbour. They have helped us to reduce both project cost and programme.

Keith Young, Engineering Director, Aberdeen Harbour Board
Detailed scope
  • Development of a feasibility study
  • Preliminary and tender design of breakwaters, including a comprehensive technical development of the preferred option and site characterisation/metocean studies, engineering design of reference design for breakwaters
  • Port masterplanning
  • Capital cost estimates, including breakwaters, berths, capital dredging and reclamation
  • Marine operability, including navigation and berth operability/ availability
  • Environmental issues including impact on existing environmentally sensitive areas and adjacent coastline
  • Landside access and operations (ease of provision of road and rail access)
  • Constructability and project schedule (ease of construction and programme duration)
  • Licencing / EIA support
  • Numerical modelling of waves, flows and sediment transport
  • Navigation simulation
  • 2D and 3D physical modelling of the breakwater structures and wave disturbance
  • Ship motion studies
  • Preparation of construction tender package documentation
  • Support to construction supervision including technical documentation review and on site support 
  • We were also appointed by the contractor to undertake further 2D and 3D physical modelling of the breakwater structures and wave disturbance.
Main image courtesy of Aberdeen Harbour Board.
Contact us for more information
Ian Cruickshank
General Manager
+44 (0)1491 822899