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Highland 1 Billion Project A Step Closer

18th October 2005

Photograph of Highland 1 Billion Project A Step Closer

The findings of an independent economic impact assessment of the proposed Forscot project have been published.

The report examines the impacts on employment and income associated with the proposal to build a 1 billion state-of-the-art integrated pulp mill, paper mill and renewable energy generation plant, together with a sawmill that will be owned and operated by a leading UK sawn goods company, at Invergordon in the north-east of Scotland.

The study, commissioned by Ross and Cromarty Enterprise, part of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise network and Scottish Enterprise, was carried out by Reference Economic Consultants. It reports that over 6,000 jobs would be created in the UK as a result of the project - up to 1,200 during construction and over 4,800 in the UK once fully operational. Income from this employment is estimated at 214 million during construction and 106 million per annum once operational.

The plant itself would provide 500 high quality jobs once in full production. The report acknowledges that unemployment rates in the Ross and Cromarty area are low compared to the rest of the country, but a substantial well-trained workforce - previously employed in the offshore construction and manufacturing industry - is believed to still exist.

The report recognises that a project of this scale is of UK significance and the impacts would be felt across the whole country. The overall displacement impacts on employment - estimated to be in the range of 165-370 jobs at UK level - are low compared to the total number of jobs that would be created - 6,058-6,263 at UK level. This displacement represents the impact that additional sawmill capacity at Forscot would have on the rest of the economy. The sawmill would be owned by an existing sawn goods company who will be responsible for determining whether this part of the project is viable, based on both the availability of wood and the market. It is likely therefore that any new capacity at the Forscot facility would be installed at a time when market conditions minimise potential displacement.

Maitland Hyslop, chief executive of Ross and Cromarty Enterprise, said: "A project of this scale is a very exciting prospect for Ross-shire, the Highlands and the UK. However the project is still at a very early stage and this report along with the feasibility studies that are ongoing are crucial in determining whether the project is sustainable.

"Although the study has highlighted some potential displacement issues, the economic benefits that would be created if this project was to go ahead would have a very positive overall effect on the area."

The feasibility stage of the project is nearing completion and Forscot is currently in discussion with potential trade partners to raise a further 5-10 million, which will enable the company to secure the site, apply for the necessary planning and environmental permits and appoint a senior management team.

A copy of the independent economic impact assessment is available online
at: Economic Impact Assessment