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Highland businessman Roy MacGregor brands Cromarty Firth freeport bid 'one of the biggest industrial opportunities Scotland has ever had' as momentum builds for Ross-shire's place at heart of 'revolution' that could sustain thousands of jobs

By Neil MacPhail

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A ROSS-SHIRE businessman has stressed the huge importance of the Cromarty Firth winning green freeport status branding it "one of the biggest industrial opportunities Scotland has ever had".

Roy MacGregor is chairman of Global Energy Group, which owns the Port of Nigg on the Cromarty Firth and is a member of Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF) the consortium chasing the lucrative freeport status.

He said: “This is one of the biggest industrial opportunities Scotland has ever had and the Highland area is at its heart.

“With the Cromarty Firth’s facilities and experience, long-established connections with industry and local content targets, Green Freeport status would enable tens of thousands of high-quality jobs to be created in this region, which has significant areas of under investment and deprivation.

“Only the Cromarty Firth can create a globally competitive hub and secure the UK’s market leading position in both floating wind and green hydrogen, delivering the jobs, skills and exportable industry which will revolutionise the economy of the Highlands and ensure the UK capitalises on the opportunities presented by floating wind.”

Port of Nigg on the Cromarty Firth.
Port of Nigg on the Cromarty Firth.

Independent research by Biggar Economics, has revealed an Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport would spark an employment boom that would create tens of thousands of jobs in the Highlands, Scotland and the UK over a decade.

OCF said winning would “revolutionise” the Highland economy and stimulate major new manufacturing activity elsewhere in the country.

OCF, backed by research from leading industry bodies, argues the Cromarty Firth is the only location in Scotland able to deliver the ambitions set out in the UK Government’s Energy Security Strategy, compete with established facilities abroad and create the associated well-paid jobs and business opportunities locally and nationally.

Opportunity knocks for Cromarty Firth jobs' boom

According to Biggar Economics' initial report, commissioned by OCF, the consortium’s proposals could be reasonably expected to add a further 20,000 jobs to those already expected in the windfarm construction phase alone.

Recently Crown Estate Scotland’s ScotWind seabed leasing round announcement signalled £26 billion investment in new offshore windfarms, the majority of which are on the doorstep of the Cromarty Firth.

Falck Renewables, BlueFloat Energy and Ørsted UK, have secured ScotWind leases and support the Highland Green Freeport bid.

The Biggar Economics report is part of OCF’s submission to the Scottish and UK governments’ bidding process, which will see two Green Freeports created in Scotland.

Speaking on behalf of OCF, Bob Buskie, chief executive of Port of Cromarty Firth, said: “This report shows how the Highland economy will be transformed if Cromarty Firth gains Green Freeport status.

“With a long-term pipeline of multi-billion pound infrastructure projects, it would create well-paid, sustainable job opportunities, enabling families to stay in the area, attract new talent and revolutionise the economics of the region.

“It is also an historic opportunity for the UK to build on its offshore wind experience and bolster its position as a world leader in the emerging offshore wind and green hydrogen industries.”

The OCF consortium was launched more than two years ago, with the aim of creating a free trade zone centred on the Cromarty Firth, to help secure a sustainable flow of energy projects and high quality jobs.

It is backed by more than a dozen regional businesses, and Inverness Chamber of Commerce, as well as public sector organisations, and academic bodies, including The Highland Council, the University of the Highlands and Islands.

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