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Leader highlights investment opportunities in Highland to delegates at major international event

24th May 2024

The Leader of The Highland Council Cllr Raymond Bremner highlighted important investment opportunities in the region at this week's UK Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF).

The Leader and Allan Maguire, Highland Council’s Head of Development & Regeneration attended this week’s event in Leeds as part of a delegation from the Scottish Cities Alliance.

Cllr Bremner seized on the opportunity to highlight investment opportunities across Highland, including the Inverness and Cromarty Green Freeport, renewables, hydrogen, tourism, and culture, labelling the region as "one of Europe’s best places to invest."

The Highland Council Leader aimed to showcase the investment potential of the whole Highland area, with a particular focus on renewable energy and the green economy, and the role that that will play in sustaining and growing the population in Highland.

Cllr Bremner also shone a spotlight on his own area of Caithness and Sutherland, highlighting that the area produces 432MW of energy, with many more in the pipeline.

He added: “West of Orkney Wind Farm will generate 2000MW of energy, MeyGen tidal array is expanding to 28MW with a potential of 398MW, Sutherland Space Port will launch its first vertical satellites in 2024.

“SSEN Transmissions are investing £20bn this decade in new and upgraded network infrastructure, the area is home to the proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site at the Flow Country with millions of investments available in carbon credits. And 2,000 tonnes of hydrogen is produced at Gordonbush Wind Farm in Sutherland.”

Speaking to delegates at the UKREiiF event Cllr Bremner said: “Opportunities resulting from the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport, along with the growth in other key sectors such as tourism, space and life sciences make Highland one of the most exciting areas in Europe to invest.

“This year Highland was ranked 6th by fDi Intelligence (part of the Financial Times) in its flagship ‘European Cities and Regions of the Future.

“To rank so highly against other regions across Europe reflects the excellent work the Council and our partners are doing to make the whole of our area an attractive prospect for investors. As well as the business opportunities, the rankings also consider the lifestyle people can enjoy which plays a big part in creating the right mix to draw new investment to our area.”

The Leader told delegates at this week’s conference: “The Highlands is fast becoming recognised across the world as a hub for green energy generation. We have access to unparalleled natural resources with existing and potential opportunities for green energy schemes, low carbon initiatives including carbon sequestration, and renewables. Highland is home to some of the world’s largest companies already and we look forward to welcoming many more.

“It is now time to seize the initiative and invest in making it happen, to secure a fair share of the income derived from the development of the region’s natural resources.”

Cllr Bremner highlighted the region’s many strengths and opportunities, including examples such as it being an internationally recognised cultural and regional heritage, having an unparalleled natural environment, low crime levels, vibrant communities and strong local identities, positive public, community and voluntary sector partnerships, internationally renowned tourism and food and drinks industries, agriculture and aquaculture sectors, and growth potential in newer sectors in the green and blue economies, space, health tech and natural capital.

The Leader also told delegates about the work being done by The Highland Council to support the delivery of the Inverness and Cromarty Green Freeport.

He said: “Developing the outline business case, and the work sitting alongside this in setting up a Green Freeport, was a significant piece of work for the Council. This is one of the most important projects this Council has ever been involved in and has the potential to transform the Highlands, bringing jobs, economic regeneration, and prosperity for many years to come.”

He added: “Green energy offers Highland new hope and opportunities to provide future generations with the opportunity to develop a highly skilled career without having to leave the region.

“We need to be at the forefront of re-skilling the local workforce to adapt to the demands of Net Zero. We need to engage with senior school pupils around new skills and ensuring the training is available to start their career path into the green energy future.

“By investing in skills, working people, and communities we can create a workforce for a sustainable economy in the green energy sector.”

The Leader highlighted that the Inverness and Cromarty Green Freeport has the potential to create thousands of well-paid and secure jobs, has a strong private-public structure with a dedicated team, features 520 hectares of development land with financial incentives and support, can attract over £3bn investment in green energy projects, holds £25m of seed capital to accelerate investment and is a global leader in new floating offshore wind industry and green hydrogen.

He further highlighted the booming tourism industry in Highland, stating: “The Highlands is what people often come to Scotland and the UK for. Each year it generates over £1.6bn in direct spend each year within the region, employ 25,000 people, attracts over 7m visitors, and is regularly voted the best place to visit by global travel leaders.

“Inverness has been identified as 3rd (out of 35 cities) in Colliers UK Hotels Market Index for 2024 due to destination appeal, limited pipeline under construction and favourable build and land costs. The opening of the refurbished Inverness Castle next year, with its world class visitor experience, will further attract visitors to the city and act as a gateway to explore the rest of the region.”

 

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