Renewable energy developer and operator SSE Renewables is the latest organisation to lend its support to Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF), the consortium bidding for a green freeport centered on the firth and Inverness.
The OCF bid is also backed by Global Energy Group, Port of Inverness, Highland Council, Inverness Airport and others.
In addition, it has secured rare cross-party political support at Holyrood and Westminster.
OCF’s green freeport bid, with SSE Renewables now on board as an “associate” consortium member, is one of five being considered by UK and Scottish ministers.
The two successful locations are expected to be unveiled later this summer.
SSE Renewables development director Maria Ryan said: “Our commitment to the economy and communities to the Highlands remains just as strong today as it ever has and, as we continue to expand our business, we will continue to support the Highland economy to grow and prosper.
Key role for Cromarty Firth
“The Cromarty Firth has a key role to play in the delivery of Scotland’s renewable energy targets, and particularly those for offshore wind and in ensuring Scotland maximises economic benefits from the growth of renewables.
“We are, therefore, pleased to have become an associate member of Opportunity Cromarty Firth to help shape and nurture the opportunities which the growth of offshore wind in Scotland presents.”
Backing from Holyrood and Westminster has come in the form of three north MPs and five MSPs signing a letter telling ministers winning green freeport status would be a “once-in-a-lifetime transformational change” for the region.
Port of Cromarty Firth chief executive Bob Buskie, speaking on behalf of OCF, said the consortium had submitted a “compelling and logical bid to achieve green freeport status for Inverness and the Cromarty Firth”.
He added: “The importance of this status to not only the Highlands but Scotland as a whole cannot be underestimated. It would bring skilled jobs and high-wage opportunities on a level not seen since the 1970s oil boom.
Green freeport would generate new offshore wind manufacturing jobs
“It would also see us capitalise on the long-term pipeline of offshore renewable energy developments off our shores, attract inward investment and generate new skilled jobs in manufacturing for offshore wind.”
SSE Renewables was among a group of leading renewable energy developers who recently wrote to UK levelling up minister Michael Gove and Scottish finance secretary Kate Forbes, urging them to back the OCF bid.
The other four bidding consortia are Clyde Green Freeport, Aberdeen City and Peterhead Green Freeport, Firth of Forth Green Freeport and Orkney Green Freeport.