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Opportunity Cromarty Firth 'without doubt the best bid that is on the table' for a green freeport according says Highland Council convener Bill Lobban as the local authority unanimously back efforts to secure 'generational' opportunity

By Scott Maclennan

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WindFloat traverses the Cromarty Firth.
WindFloat traverses the Cromarty Firth.

Efforts by the Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF) consortium to secure a Green Freeport for the Highlands is “without doubt the best bid that is on the table,” according to Highland Council Convener Bill Lobban.

The decision on whether to award Green Freeport status was unanimously backed by the local authority – which is also a member of the consortium – at a meeting yesterday.

The benefits involve addressing the local and national transition to net zero, creating sustainable high-quality jobs in a green economy, regenerating and strengthening communities and reversing staggering depopulation.

If successful, the scale of transformation and the reversal of long-standing socio-economic issues facing the Highlands is considered a “generational” opportunity.

At the moment below average wage levels combine to drive young people to live in other parts of the country, further compounding issues regarding the declining working-age population.

Transformational Change

Speaking at a meeting of full council yesterday, Councillor Lobban said: “The Opportunity Cromarty Firth is without doubt the best bid that is on the table.

"And we should be expecting national governments at both levels to be supporting this bid because technically, it is the best bid.

“Not only is it the best bid but it is the bid that would make a transformational change to an area of this country that is completely of a different level of magnitude to anywhere else.

“If you had this bid in Edinburgh or Glasgow or Manchester or London, the change would not be at the level that we would see in the Highlands. This is the best bid and I'm really pleased to see that the members of this council are fully supportive of this.

“This is the bid we have got to get behind.”

Nowhere Offers What Cromarty Firth Does

Tain Cllr Derek Louden and the chairman of corporate resources said: “This is the only location to support manufacturing of floating off-shore wind and green hydrogen and deliver renewable energy production on the scale required. Nowhere else can do that.

“In addition, this bid has the ability to unlock £2.6 billion of public and private sector investment in the Highlands and generate some 25,000 sustainable jobs.

“I have supported this all along and will do everything in my power to help the consortium to be successful in this bid. It has the potential to be completely transformational for Highland and I look forward to a sensible decision being made in awarding the bid to Port of Cromarty Firth."

Highland Council leader Raymond Bremner said: “Independent reports have already shown that the Cromarty Firth is the only location in Scotland able to deliver on the ambitions for offshore wind of the magnitude required in the UK Energy Security Strategy.

“In addition to offshore wind, we have all the ingredients for the production of green hydrogen at scale.

"Highland has the potential to generate a third of Europe’s energy demand, which could secure our place as a powerhouse for Europe and indeed would place us on the world stage as a centre of excellence, skills and innovation in renewable energy.”

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