The History of Hunterston Port

Hunterston Port on the Ayrshire Coast was initially identified as a site which could provide an ore-importing facility to the Scottish iron and steel industry in 1968. With 80-feet water depths and large intertidal sandbanks, it was a uniquely suitable location for a world-class bulk import facility. The proposals involved reclaiming 605 acres of these sands for an ore stockyard and constructing a 4,500 ft jetty extending into the naturally deep water, avoiding the need to dredge the seabed.

Approval  for the  iron ore terminal was  granted by the Secretary of State in  December 1970 and, once built, Hunterston Ore Terminal was one of the deepest water ore terminals in the world, directly linked by rail to Ravenscraig Steelworks in Motherwell.

Ravenscraig Steelworks closed in 1992 and a year later Huntertson was acquired by Clydeport, which was in turn acquired by Peel Group in 2003.

As the market for iron ore declined, Clydeport invested heavily in facilities for coal handling at Hunterston and the terminal quickly grew to become one of the largest coal import facilities  in the UK. At its peak, Hunterston  handled up to 6,000,000 tonnes of coal per annum, much of which was destined for Longannet power station in Fife via a direct rail link .

With around 125 people directly employed by Peel ports  at Hunterston and a further 400 employed on-site by tenants and contractors  the Coal Terminal was one of the biggest employers in the local area.

However, when changes to UK Government energy policy led to the demise of coal, Longannet, like many other coal-fired power stations around the UK, was forced to close. As result the volumes of coal imported through Hunterston plummeted to the point that it was no longer viable. Operations were gradually wound down during the course of 2015 and 2016, with 120 people being made redundant.

The site has remained dormant since, with Peel Ports working with various partners to develop a future vision for the site. In the meantime, Peel Ports has  to  dismantled the redundant coal handling equipment  and investing in improvements to the existing facilities, helping unlock the potential of the site and enhance its attractiveness and viability for potential future occupiers.

Peel Ports understands that the local community has a significant stake in the ongoing regeneration of the site , now renamed Hunterston Port and Resource Centre (Hunterston PARC) and is committed to using Hunterston PARC’s significant advantages as a deep-water port to deliver economic growth, job opportunities and wider benefits to the local area, North Ayrshire and the wider Scottish community.


Key Facts

Hunterston PARC is a unique national asset thanks to its combination of facilities, infrastructure and natural advantages.


The deepest water port on the UK’s West Coast with 23m alongside

Two rail terminals and superb road connections providing direct access to Scotland and rest of the UK

Circa 300 acres of development land

Existing planning permission for port and associated uses

Capacity to store up to 1.5 million tonnes of cargo

Major grid connections to the UK National Grid

Marine platform construction yard

One of the largest dry docks in the country