The UK government has been urged to choose Inverness and the Cromarty Firth as the location for a Green Freeport by a cross-party group of Highland politicians.
Three MPs and five MSPs signed a letter which was submitted with the bid telling ministers that winning the status would provide the opportunity for “once-in-a-lifetime transformational change” for the region.
And the group of SNP, Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Labour representatives highlighted the strengths of the Inverness and Cromarty Firth bid, including the potential to attract £20-30billion investment to the area, echoing support voiced by major international offshore energy developers and others.
The letter, to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, was signed by MPs Ian Blackford, Drew Hendry and Jamie Stone, along with MSPs Edward Mountain, Jamie Halcro Johnston, Donald Cameron, Rhoda Grant and Maree Todd. In it, they said:
The establishment of a Green Freeport in the Highlands would provide the opportunity for once-in-a-lifetime transformational change. We are excited at the prospect.
The Highland region has particular challenges, lower-than-average incomes and productivity, and multi-generational population decline. It desperately needs new job opportunities to reverse these present trends. We believe this is possible but we need help.
We have £20-30bn investment opportunities on our doorstep and Green Freeport status, and its accompanying benefits, is exactly the vehicle we need to ensure they can be realised.
The locations of two new Green Freeports in Scotland are expected to be announced by the UK and Scottish governments later this summer. A bid by the Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF) consortium submitted last month is competing against four others, from the north-east, the central belt and Orkney.
Setting out the arguments in favour of Inverness and the Cromarty Firth, the north politicians said:
The area is uniquely placed to benefit the whole of the UK through energy security, trade and investment, lower cost electricity and speeding progress towards net-zero.
It can create tens of thousands of high-quality fair, green jobs, thus meeting the Scottish and UK governments’ regeneration, trade and investment and net-zero objectives.
This bid not only delivers on the Government’s Green Freeport objectives, but also the levelling up agenda; spreading opportunity more equally across Scotland.
It has the land space, some of the deepest waters and quaysides in the UK, sheltered anchorage locations and a cluster of best-in-class companies working together to compete with leading offshore energy port hubs across Europe.
It’s the only location in Scotland with the port infrastructure and experienced supply chain in place to deliver UK energy security through offshore wind, floating wind, pumped hydro storage, green hydrogen and critical manufacturing for the nuclear sector.”
The politicians’ message was reinforced by Jamie Stone, Rhoda Grant, Maree Todd and Highland Council leader, Raymond Bremner at a press conference in Inverness today (Monday 25th July).
We very much welcome this strong show of cross-party support from our elected representatives from across the Highlands for what we are confident is a compelling bid for Green Freeport status for Inverness and the Cromarty Firth.
It echoes what industry and others have said, pointing out that the area is already in pole position in the development of offshore wind and other technologies needed to deliver UK energy security and lower cost electricity.
We also wholeheartedly agree that the Highland economy urgently needs the transformational opportunity that Green Freeport status can bring.Speaking on behalf of OCF, Port of Cromarty Firth Chief Executive, Bob Buskie
For Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport Bid