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Renewables industry tells the UK and Scottish governments that the Cromarty Firth is the 'only' place for a green freeport as energy giants pen rare joint open-letter backing the bid

By Scott Maclennan

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Global Energy Group has placed a focus on developing Nigg Energy Park.
Global Energy Group has placed a focus on developing Nigg Energy Park.

The hopes of securing a green freeport in the Highlands is not just a local ambition but is based on hard-headed analysis of the options to service offshore wind capacity needed by the UK.

Multinational, national and local companies ranging from global giants like Shell, Ocean Winds, and Orsted to more familiar names like ScottishPower Renewables and SSE Renewables and a host of others have had a say.

One of the big selling points is that by being closer to the fields where they will be operating, it will keep costs down and that means “the location also offers the best path to lower costs and thus lower UK fuel bills”.

The open letter to the UK and Scottish governments describes a green freeport in the Highlands as providing “the opportunity for once-in-a-lifetime transformational change”.

It goes on to say: “The region is uniquely placed to benefit the whole of the UK through energy security, trade and investment, lower cost electricity and a faster, more just transition to net zero.” Its record proves it can deliver as “the ports of Invergordon and Nigg in the Cromarty Firth have supported more offshore wind projects than any other Scottish ports”.

Those projects – Beatrice, Moray East, and Seagreen – are valued at more than £8 billion and are producing almost 2.6 GW of energy and they were all “constructed and marshalled from the firth”.

It concluded: “The local economy has the capacity to support a green freeport, through its skills base and the strength of key industries relevant for growing the clean energy sector and other key growth sectors. Inverness and Cromarty Firth’s dedicated skills and innovation vehicle, The PowerHouse, has the backing of industry and recently completed its first research project for the Department for Transport’s Clean Maritime Competition.

“As developers of this critical infrastructure, [this] bid has our full confidence.”

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