Loganair says securing green freeport status for Inverness and the Cromarty Firth would play a major part in establishing the infrastructure needed for airlines to switch to zero-carbon fuels.
The UK’s largest regional airline says the Scottish Highlands can provide a “key building block” in the drive to decarbonise the country’s air transport system, with green freeport status accelerating the generation of hydrogen.
The Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF) consortium co-ordinating the bid includes the ports of Cromarty Firth, Nigg and Inverness and also the Highlands’ largest air terminal and Inverness Airport Business Park.
It is backed by Inverness Chamber of Commerce and more than a dozen businesses, as well as public sector organisations and academic bodies. A decision on the eventual two Scottish winners is to be made later this summer.
Loganair is backing the OCF bid, which could attract £1 billion in investment to accelerate development of green hydrogen technology in the area, with the airline noting it could be a “significant customer” for the fuel produced in the Highlands.
Loganair has bases across Scotland and the UK and, in partnership with hydrogen technology specialist ZeroAvia, has been involved in development of clean propulsion technology for aviation. The company’s decarbonisation strategy envisages a fleet which is majority green hydrogen-fuelled.
The Cromarty Firth has been identified as being central to future large-scale production of green hydrogen because of its proximity to existing and planned offshore wind farms, which are needed for the new industry’s development.
Energy giant ScottishPower and Storegga have announced plans to jointly develop the UK’s largest green hydrogen plant on the firth.
The developers have said green freeport status would have the potential to bring forward more than £1bn in a larger-scale plant by up to 10 years.
Loganair expressed its support for the plans in a June letter submitted to Scottish and UK ministers along with OCF’s bid.
In it, the company’s head of sustainability strategy, Andy Smith, said: “We fully support the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport bid, as we envisage being a significant customer for the hydrogen produced from the electrolyser planned for the green freeport.”
He continued: “The creation of a green freeport in the Cromarty Firth would produce significant benefits not only to the local economy, but also as a key building block in the vast range of national infrastructure required to produce and handle the significant quantities of green hydrogen required for a future decarbonised transport system.”
On behalf of OCF, Port of Cromarty Firth chief executive Bob Buskie said: “Loganair is a vital part of the fabric of Highlands and Islands life and we warmly welcome their strong support for our bid for green freeport status.”