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'Enormous benefit' for Ardersier as port is proposed as tax site in Green Freeport plans

By Federica Stefani

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The Port of Ardersier from the air.
The Port of Ardersier from the air.

Ardersier Port could be set to benefit from special tax arrangements it is hoped could help enable a major jobs boom as part of its membership of the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport (ICFGF) consortium.

Proposals to encompass the port as part of the freeport area were agreed in late summer and included in the scheme’s outline business case which was discussed at a Highland Council meeting earlier this month and submitted to the UK and Scottish Government for feedback.

Haventus – which owns Ardersier Port – joined members of the consortium including the Port of Cromarty Firth, Port of Inverness, Global Energy Group, Highland Council, the University of the Highlands and Islands, Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd and Inverness Chamber of Commerce.

In the latest project update, ICFGF said the addition of Ardersier and the other added proposed tax site, Deephaven, near Evanton, will add “significant strength and economic and social benefit to the proposition.”

It continued: “These contribute large, industrial sites with direct marine access, highly desirable to inward investors, to support the national priority of maximising UK content for offshore wind manufacturing.

“All tax site landowners will enter into a Tax Site Delivery Agreement (TSDA) with the Green Freeport Company and Highland Council that will formally set out the actions on all parties which will be necessary to ensure timely delivery

and benefit maximisation on tax sites.”

Lewis Gillies, chief executive of Haventus, said: “We are delighted to be proposed as a tax site. As relative newcomers to the consortium, we recognise that we are benefitting enormously from the huge amounts of work and expertise already invested by others in it, not least our fellow port organisations, to get to this stage.

“We hope and believe that our site at Ardersier will make a valuable contribution to stimulating the economic prospects of our local communities and the wider region.

“Looking ahead, the addition of Ardersier alongside the other ports, facilities and outstanding supply chain businesses around Nairn, Inverness and the Cromarty Firth, can help to strengthen and deliver the very real opportunity for the Highlands to become a leading global hub for renewables.”

The new status for Ardersier is set to offer a range of tax reliefs and financial incentives to generate business growth, benefitting the wider region, with hopes the Highlands can become a major global hub for green energy.

Haventus is currently redeveloping the 450-acre port site, transforming the former McDermott Yard into an energy transition facility and enabling the deployment of major offshore wind projects and wider energy transition opportunities.

ICFGF have opened headquarters in the Highland capital in September.

Chairman Jim Smith said: “We are delighted that Haventus has joined the consortium.

“It brings a fifth port facility into the Green Freeport and aligns with the freeport’s objectives of facilitating offshore wind farm construction and accelerating Scotland’s transition to net zero.”

Trish Robertson during a visit to the port. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Trish Robertson during a visit to the port. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Culloden and Ardersier councillor Trish Robertson said: “It’s a huge development and it’s going to have a big impact and be a blessing for everybody locally.

“It will bring a lot of jobs for a start – most importantly, they will be permanent jobs rather than temporary jobs as happened in the oil days at Ardersier. These are career jobs, and hopefully it will help keep some of the youngsters as well.

“What we need just now is to look at the skills base, because we need to have people locally who can take up these good jobs. The kids that are in school today are the ones that are going to benefit more from it.

“It will give us an alternative to tourism as our main activity – which has got to be good, it’s never a great idea to put all your eggs in one basket.”

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