Home   News   Article

BUSINESS INSIGHT: Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport helping build long-term prosperity in Highlands

By Contributor

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

By Calum MacPherson

Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport includes Nigg.
Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport includes Nigg.

The Highland economy has been hitting the headlines for the right reasons in recent weeks.

There was great news from Port of Ardersier owner, Haventus, with the announcement it had secured a £100 million joint credit facility for its plans to develop a nationally significant infrastructure facility supporting the offshore wind industry at the site. This is on top of £300 million already announced earlier in the year.

In the same week, a ground-breaking ceremony took place at Nigg, where Sumitomo is developing a major manufacturing operation to produce cables for the sector.

Watch: Demystifying the questions arising around the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport

The progress of these projects, which will create many new well-paid, long-term skilled jobs, is a clear sign of the growing confidence both in the market and in Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport (ICFGF).

We have also recently seen the Port of Cromarty Firth named as one of two ports to progress to the next stage of the UK Government’s FLOWMIS infrastructure funding scheme. The port’s planned expansion will help catalyse economic growth and create year-round jobs in green energy for many decades.

The key role the Highlands will play in the transition to the clean, green energy generation needed to address the climate emergency, coupled with the advantages offered by Green Freeport status means there will be more positive announcements to come.

Calum MacPherson.
Calum MacPherson.

This offers an unprecedented opportunity to reverse the area’s damaging long-term decline in working age population, creating thousands of long-term employment opportunities that will keep people here and attract others to the region – an overarching goal of ICFGF.

The jobs on the highly regulated Green Freeport tax sites will be subject to a Fair Work Charter, and Real Living Wage commitment. Non-domestic rates for existing infrastructure will continue as normal and, for new infrastructure, an equivalent amount of the rates that would have been paid will be refunded by the Scottish Government and retained in the area to support growth.

Economic growth and demographic change at the scale anticipated comes with challenges, not least in critical areas such as housing and infrastructure. A joined-up approach to tackling these is vital to maximise benefits of emerging opportunities.

The Highland Council’s recent launch of an investment plan worth £2 billion over the next 20 years was more welcome news as we work together to build long-term prosperity for the region.

These investments will not happen overnight, but if we work together over the coming years, we stand real chance of improving the economy of the Highlands for generations to come.

Calum MacPherson is chief executive of Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More