Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to be in the Highlands on Friday morning to confirm investment in a green freeport for the region.
Nicola Sturgeon and the prime minister are set to announce millions in UK Government funding at an event at the Cromarty Firth tomorrow.
The money will “create thousands of high-skilled green jobs, drive growth, potentially bring in billions of private sector investment and provide opportunities for people across Scotland”, Downing Street said.
The pair are expected to confirm the long-awaited decision on the locations of two so-called “green freeports” in Scotland.
On Wednesday, The Press and Journal exclusively revealed the Cromarty Firth and Inverness will be one of two sites to gain job-creating special “freeport” status with tax breaks and a share of £52 million from both the UK and Scottish Governments.
The second award in Scotland is expected to go to Forth Ports, which takes in Rosyth, Burntisland, Grangemouth, Leith and Edinburgh airport.
The announcement means that another bid on behalf of Aberdeen and Peterhead will not go ahead in what has been described as a “missed opportunity” for the region.
Backers of the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport, led by the the Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF) consortium, believe it would spearhead opportunities which could see 25,000 jobs created.
Rishi Sunak in first visit to Scotland as PM
It will be his first trip to Scotland as Prime Minister, although he has held talks with Ms Sturgeon before and the pair met at the British-Irish Council Summit in Blackpool in November.
Mr Sunak arrived in Scotland to meet the Scottish First Minister behind closed doors on Thursday evening.
During his two-day visit, Mr Sunak is also set to meet search and rescue workers and a community group.
In their informal face-to-face talks, Mr Sunak and Ms Sturgeon are expected to discuss the “shared challenges that people in Scotland and across the rest of the UK face” and cooperation between both governments, according to No 10.
At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Sunak said he wants to work with the Scottish Government on the issue of the North Sea oil and gas industry.
But he claimed Ms Sturgeon’s government “don’t want to support the Scottish energy industry and the 200,000 jobs that it produces”.
He was responding to SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, who said Scotland’s membership of the UK union “simply doesn’t add up”.
Mr Sunak said: “I’m keen to work with the Scottish Government to support the North Sea because it’s something that we’re all very proud of in the UK.”
Delay in green freeports announcement
The announcement on green freeports comes three months after Scottish Secretary Alister Jack revealed the bids had been chosen, but kept the winners under wraps.
Political turmoil including two changes of prime minister added to delays to the project, which was first floated nearly two years ago.