UHI welcomes green freeport announcement

UHI has welcomed the news that a bid to secure green freeport status for the Cromarty Firth has been successful.

Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF) was awarded Green Freeport status in a highly competitive bidding process involving five areas of Scotland. It will bring jobs and business opportunities to the Highlands on a scale not seen since the arrival of North Sea oil and gas in the 1970s.

Green Freeport status presents the opportunity to turn Inverness and the Cromarty Firth into a focal point for a thriving, sustainable, homegrown renewables industry able to transform the nation into a net zero economy, become a global exporter of clean energy, technology and expertise, and make a significant contribution to UK energy security.

It will allow us to harness our resources to compete on a level playing field with other parts of the UK, ensure the establishment of new manufacturing facilities, and attract fresh, sizeable investment to the Highlands.

The benefits of a Green Freeport centred on Inverness and the Cromarty Firth will be shared across Scotland and the UK, creating an estimated 25,000 jobs.

The successful bid is the culmination of two years hard work and dedication from everyone at OCF who uniquely brought 30 regional businesses – including Port of Cromarty Firth, Global Energy Group, Port of Inverness, Highlands and Islands Airports, renewable energy giants and developers, public sector organisations, and academic bodies, The Highland Council and University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) – to work together for the first time.

Welcoming the news, Vicki Nairn, Interim Principal and Vice-Chancellor at UHI, said: “This is an exciting development for communities in our region. We are proud to be supporting the Opportunity Cromarty Firth project by helping to train the future workforce and driving research and innovation in the offshore renewable energy sector. We look forward to continuing our work with the project partners to have a transformational impact on the prospects of our region.”

Giles Huby, UHI North Highland’s Director of External Engagement and Facilities, added: “This news is a huge shot in the arm for the region’s economy because it will lead to inward investment and long-term careers that will benefit the renewables supply chain across the Highlands, not just in the Cromarty Firth region. The Opportunity Cromarty Firth public and private sector consortium includes ports, renewables companies, UHI and Highland Council - and that team has calculated Green Freeport status will create 25,000 high-quality green jobs and add over £6Bn to the region’s economy.”