Home   News   Article

What is a green free port and what will it mean for the Highlands

By Scott Maclennan

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!
Port of Cromarty Firth looking down the Cromarty Firth.
Port of Cromarty Firth looking down the Cromarty Firth.

Earlier today reports claimed that Opportunity Cromarty Firth had been successful in its bid for a green freeport amid promises of billions of investment and tens of thousands in jobs.

Since August 2020 the consortium behind the bid has been working to develop proposals that meet the government criteria for a green freeport.

Here is what to expect.

So what is a green freeport?

Basically a green freeport is a large, zoned area within a defined boundary where operators and businesses can benefit from a package of tax and other incentives through a combination of devolved and reserved levers.

Applications were marked against how they contributed to four key policy objectives:

  • promoting regeneration and high-quality job creation
  • promoting decarbonisation and a just transition to a net zero economy
  • establish hubs for global trade and investment
  • foster an innovative environment

Where will the green freeport be?

The proposed Green Freeport tax sites put forward as part of the Opportunity Cromarty Firth bid are spread over three main areas.

  • Invergordon: This area includes the services base where rigs are a familiar sight right on the edge of the town, the Saltburn Pier stretching out into the Firth and finally Cromarty Firth Industrial Park, which sits a little inland.
  • Nigg: The whole of the Nigg Energy Park will be part of the freeport, as well as areas of Pitcalzean Farm.
  • Inverness: The freeport takes in Inverness Harbour stretching from the Telford Street Bridge to just past the Kessock Bridge. It continues from Longman Point, encompassing the Caley stadium, to the former landfill along the A9. It also includes the Inverness Campus.

Investment boon for local areas

Tax savings related to developments and activities within those locations are then redirected to create additional funds to unlock and help address wider issues across a broader geographical area.

The English Freeport competition set a 45 km outer boundary area as the precedent which has been redrawn to remove areas of sea and uninhabited areas for investment in green jobs, decarbonisation, diversifying skills, regeneration and key infrastructure.

That means all the main settlements in the Inner Moray Firth, as well as Dornoch, Golspie and Brora, were included in the area where funding opportunities can be spent:

  • £25 million in seed capital to deliver necessary infrastructure
  • The council retains 100 per cent of the uplift in non-domestic rates revenues for 25 years to invest upfront in infrastructure and skills programmes and can borrow against future business rates revenue

So what can we expect to see?

The overall ambition is to make OCF a strategic national renewable energy hub that creates thousands of quality jobs for “generations” of work through hydrogen, offshore wind that has been valued as much as £26 billion over the next 50 years.

The key projects to make that happen are the following:

  • An advanced manufacturing plant at Nigg
  • A serial manufacturing of floating structures at Invergordon
  • A state-of-the-art North of Scotland green hydrogen hub
  • A new applied research centre to develop floating offshore wind and green hydrogen technologies called The Power House

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