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Highland Council Welcomes Potential Of Inverness And Cromarty Green Freeport

10th March 2023

Highland Council members welcomed an update on the successful Green Freeport bid by the Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF) consortium of which The Highland Council is a partner.

The Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport, jointly announced by the Scottish Government and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in January, will make a significant contribution towards meeting the local and national transition to net zero, create high quality, long-lasting employment in a green economy, regenerate and strengthen communities across the region and reverse demographic challenges.

The Green Freeport will help to address climate change and deliver a number of core policy objectives by adopting high environmental standards and through attracting investment in green industries, creating green jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Leader of the Council, Raymond Bremner, emphasised the importance of the Green Freeport coming to Highland. He said: "This clearly has the potential to deliver against local and national outcomes and to play a key role in energy security for Scotland and the UK. The Green Freeport capitalises and builds upon Highland's ongoing role as a renewable energy cluster and will be critical in enabling the development of an efficient and effective hydrogen network. This paves the way for Highland to become a global centre for renewable energy."

Convener Bill Lobban said: “The potential this brings to Highland is undoubtedly huge. It is one of the biggest opportunities to come to Highland for our economy and the regeneration of our communities. We recognise also that the governance will also be extremely important moving forward.”

Chair of the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Ken Gowans added: “Opportunity Cromarty Firth is truly transformational, and it has the potential to shape the lives of every person who lives and works within the Highland Council Area.

“Winning this bid is the result of a lot of endeavour, determination and persuasion made possible by people with different interests all working together with a shared vison. We now need to translate this into a shared success to deliver tangible improvements in our business community and to improve the life chances of the people of Highland. High levels of quality employment will not only tackle population decline, but will make Highland an even better place to live and attract inward investment, while delivering economic prosperity.”

The Council will now take on the role of Accountable Body for the implementation and ongoing operation of the Freeport and the preparation of an outline business case which will be submitted to the UK and Scottish Governments. This work will help to identify the development and infrastructure requirements related to the Green Freeport and the social, environmental and economic benefits that it aims to deliver for Highland communities.

As the Accountable Body the Council will be required to appoint one Director to the Board. Members agreed the appointment of Interim Depute Chief Executive Malcolm MacLeod as the Council representative on the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport Board.

Green Freeports are zoned areas within which operators and businesses can benefit from a package of tax and other incentives through a combination of devolved and reserved levers. They are intended to deliver a wide range of significant social, environmental and economic benefits to their surrounding areas and region. The outline business case is due to be considered by the Council later this year before submission to Scottish and UK Governments.


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