Inverness Chamber Inspires Collaboration To Realise Green Freeport Ambitions

“If we get this right, I believe it’s going to make a fundamental difference to this region for generations to come.” – Inverness & Cromarty Firth Green Freeport’s CEO Calum MacPherson

Ever since it was announced on 13 January 2023 that the consortium had been successful in its bid and awarded Green Freeport status by the Scottish and UK Governments, work behind the scenes has been constant to realise the renewable energy ambition for the region, alongside the anticipation of what this was going to mean for communities across the Scottish Highlands.

In April this year (2024), the UK legislative process concluded, confirming the establishment of Special Tax Sites for the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport (ICFGF). This move projected the credentials of the Highlands’ renewables sector around the world, while highlighting the transformational and lasting benefits it will have for the region.

Nevertheless, this is just the start of the hard work for the Highlands’ public and private sectors, and for the business community there is work to be done to fully realise the opportunities around supply chain contracts, job creation, and inward investment in local infrastructure and services, and to ensure the benefits also extend to our communities.

This week (Thurs 6 June), we welcomed over 100 representatives from the Highland business community at our Business Breakfast with the Inverness & Cromarty Firth Green Freeport CEO, Calum MacPherson.

The event, sponsored by Ledingham Chalmers Solicitors, gave an overview of the Freeport area and the scale of the opportunity for our region, as well as the challenges in terms of grid connection, housing, building a skilled workforce and planning.

Calum MacPherson highlighted, “We have to be brave if we want to realise the full scope of the opportunities this presents us. The Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport is a partnership of around 30 organisations working together to create a Green Freeport in the Highlands and become one of the largest green energy hubs in Europe. This represents a huge opportunity to transform the region in terms of population retention and economic growth, and to provide future generations with an improved environment and job opportunities.

“If you take anything away from today’s event it’s that, now you’re more informed, you please spread the word with as many of your business contacts, neighbours and friends as possible about what’s happening in our region and help to build the momentum around the Freeport while signposting people to our website for more information.”

Colin Marr, CEO of Inverness Chamber commented following the breakfast, “There is a feeling of real optimism and momentum behind the Freeport but we are also aware of the challenges, especially those around employment, housing and consents. Events like these allow the business community to come together and have open discussions about how we overcome these challenges together in a way that our whole region can benefit from. The opportunity for the region can’t be overstated and with collaboration across all sectors – both public and private – we will solve some of our communities long standing issues while positioning the Highlands at the centre of the UK’s renewables industry and energy security.”

As part of our efforts to bring key decision makers and regional influencers together to work towards our common goals for the Green Freeport, we host a roundtable dinner the evening before the breakfast.  Inverness Chamber CEO, Colin Marr and Deputy CEO, Paula Nicol held a roundtable dinner with CEO Calum MacPherson and around a dozen business leaders from a variety of sectors.

There was wide ranging and open discussion about the opportunities associated with the Green Freeport and how we can ensure that our local supply chain is able to benefit, while supporting our young people to take advantage of the employment opportunities. The group also discussed how all stakeholders across the region can all work together to overcome the potential challenges, including a shortage of both skilled labour and affordable housing, and how we can help with speeding up the consent process to ensure we are attractive to investors.

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