An ambitious new initiative has been launched to create a Free Trade Zone in the Cromarty Firth – securing a sustainable 50-year pipeline of work and jobs.
Opportunity Cromarty Firth is backed by the Port of Cromarty Firth along with partners from industry, academia and the public sector including Global Energy Group, The Highland Council, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, and the University of the Highlands & Islands.
Project leaders believe the creation of a Free Trade Zone will help secure much-needed post-Brexit supply chain opportunities and provide skilled employment in the Highlands for the next half a century. The ambitions of the project are to stimulate economic activity and employment, attract inward investment in innovative renewable energy technologies of the future, and equip local people and businesses with the necessary skills in these sectors to bring transformational regeneration to the north of Scotland.
Bob Buskie, chief executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth, said:
“The creation of Free Trade Zones, also referred to as Free Ports, are part of the UK Government’s economic growth strategy post-Brexit – and there are plans to create up to 10 across the UK. “We believe Cromarty Firth is the ideal location to establish one of these Free Trade Zones, and we hope those who come to the virtual public event will be as excited as we are at the opportunities a Free Trade Zone could bring to our area.
“Cromarty Firth is steeped in industrial history, having supported North Sea oil and gas activity since the 1970s, and is now playing a critical role in the Scottish offshore wind sector. “The Firth hosts a number of leading supply chain companies as well as a locally skilled workforce with essential engineering experience. This is coupled with first-class port infrastructure and manufacturing facilities, which have benefited from over £110m of industry-led investments in the past ten years.
“Thanks to our Highland location, Cromarty Firth is in a unique position as 15 of the 17 sites identified in the draft Marine Plan for offshore wind development are on our doorstep. Not only that, our ambitions and pipeline will support Scotland and the UK meet their climate obligations, helping to build offshore wind and hydrogen deployment at scale.
“Our facilities are some of the best in the UK, we have a proven track record of attracting new business to UK Plc, and we have a strong connection between local government, business and the Port.
“Becoming a Free Trade Zone will make Cromarty Firth and the Highlands a vital hub of industry, trade and employment in the renewables sector, driving forward a greener economy in a post-Brexit Scotland and UK.”