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Renewable energy companies urge Ministers to back Cromarty/Inverness green freeport bid

Port of Cromarty
Renewable energy developers are urging UK and Scottish governments to back OCF bid.

A group of renewable energy developers has written to UK Levelling Up Minister Michael Gove and Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, urging them to back the Inverness and Cromarty Firth bid for green freeport status.

The companies, including Scottish Power Renewables, Shell and Ørsted UK said the freeports programme was now the “UK’s most powerful tool” in ensuring 60% local content targets are met in the multi-billion pound development of fixed-bottom and floating offshore windfarms.

Cromarty Firth bid to create well-paid, sustainable jobs

In the letter, the developers say: “The Cromarty Firth has the overwhelming endorsement of industry, government and in independent studies as the only location in Scotland with the land space, some of the deepest waters and quaysides in the UK.

“(It also has) sheltered anchorage locations and a cluster of best-in-class companies and facilities, combined with the proximity to the windfarm sites that can deliver these ambitions for floating wind at the scale required, compete with established facilities abroad, and create the associated well-paid, sustainable jobs and opportunities for people and businesses across Scotland and the UK.”

Port of Nigg.
Port of Nigg.

Just this week, Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF)’s consortium bidding for green freeport status said more than £2.5 billion of new private sector investment in the UK’s renewable energy sector is at stake as ministers choose the locations for two Scottish green freeports this summer.

The OCF consortium includes the ports of Cromarty Firth, Nigg and Inverness as well as Inverness Airport.

It is backed by Inverness Chamber of Commerce and more than a dozen businesses, as well as public sector organisations, and academic bodies, including The Highland Council and the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).

The bid is backed by 13 of the 17 winners of ScotWind seabed leases for new offshore windfarms.

Two winning Scottish bids to be named this summer

Five consortia have submitted bids to become a green freeport of which there will be two in a £52m project by the UK and Scottish governments.

These include bids from Aberdeen City and Peterhead and the Orkney Green Freeport in the north, as well as the Firth of Forth Clyde Green Freeport bids in the central belt.

The two winning applications for Scottish freeports will be named this summer.

OCF maintains the benefits of financial backing at such a scale would be shared across Scotland and the UK creating 25,000 jobs, as well as accelerating the decarbonisation of the power industry and the just transition to net-zero.

Ports of Invergordon and Nigg have supported more offshore wind projects than any other Scottish ports.

The letter from the developers goes on to say: “The establishment of a green freeport in the Highlands would provide the opportunity for once-in-a-lifetime transformational change; projected to create 25,000 high-quality, fair, green jobs and over £6bn in GVA; (gross value added) meeting the Scottish and UK governments’ regeneration, trade and investment and net zero objectives.

“The region is uniquely placed to benefit the whole of the UK through energy security, trade and investment, lower cost electricity and a faster, more just transition to net zero.

“The ports of Invergordon and Nigg in the Cromarty Firth have supported more offshore wind projects than any other Scottish ports.

This region has stored and handled hundreds of onshore windfarm components

“The £2.5bn 588MW Beatrice, £2.6bn 1GW Moray East, and £3bn 1GW Seagreen offshore windfarms were constructed and marshalled from the Firth, which has also already supported two floating windfarm projects, Hywind and Kincardine.

“With partners at Port of Inverness, this region has stored and handled hundreds of onshore windfarm components and will play a critical role in doubling the UK’s electricity storage capacity through pumped storage.”

The letter concludes by urging government to “demonstrate your own commitment to the policies you have created” and to back the opportunity to build a “better, greener, more prosperous” Scotland and UK.

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