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Council approves the development of a Future Highlands Strategy

10th September 2021

Members at the meeting of Highland Council, on 9 September 2021, have approved the development of a Future Highlands Strategy with the development of a Green Energy Hub in Highland at its heart.

The Future Highlands strategy is intended to take a partnership approach to capitalising on the unique opportunities and natural assets available in the Highlands relating to green energy, tourism, workforce, innovation, science and skills. By working together with partners, the Highlands will have the best possible advantage to stimulate economic recovery and growth which will revitalise and sustain Highland communities and towns into the future.

This ambitious plan will involve working collaboratively with key partners to put the Highlands at the forefront of addressing climate change and sustainable energy requirements, deriving value from our waste, attracting green businesses, green fleet and affordable energy efficient homes.

The plan will consider partnership opportunities across five themes: Green energy; innovative reform of care services; nurturing a skilled and healthy workforce; developing thriving communities with affordable housing and improved connectivity; and a shared financial and asset strategy maximising efficiency and growth.

The Council is also working with a number of partners through the Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF) consortium to promote a range of projects that aim to reinforce and optimise Highland's ongoing contribution to climate action at the national and regional level. This package of projects capitalises on the area's natural assets and unique position to support multi-billion pound offshore wind projects, whilst also securing an economic and social legacy for the area.

Leader of the Council Margaret Davidson said: "Highland is a region rich in potential and renewable resources. The vision set out today will hopefully bring a new bright future for Highland.

"The Opportunity Cromarty Firth Consortium are awaiting the opportunity to bid for Greenport or Freeport status which would have significant benefits for the whole of the Highlands. Such status would provide a package of measures to stimulate further economic activity and investment and make the area more competitive. A coordinated and innovative approach between all public and private sectors will maximise the benefits, including the regeneration and sustainability of communities."

Deputy Leader Cllr Alasdair Christie added: "I am pleased this plan today has received the support of members across the chamber. There will be a great many partners who can play a very important role in building this shared vision. The biggest challenge is depopulation and young people moving away from the Highlands. We need to provide clear opportunities and affordable housing is a key part of this which underpins all the themes, to encourage inward migration and tackle recruitment and retention. The plan is about being connected with all our partners and working together to address our challenges and achieve our ambitions."

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