After taking two major prizes at the 2020 Maritime UK Awards – the only Scottish winner – the Port of Cromarty Firth is looking to Freeport status as a key driver for its renewable energy ambitions as well as the wider economy of the region. By Anthony Harrington.
While 2020 was a year of significant challenges, for the Port of Cromarty Firth it was also one of huge achievement and economic opportunity.
Opportunity Cromarty Firth, a partnership of private, public, and academic organisations, aims to work with energy sector firms with the united goal of the location becoming a ‘green port’
The port continued to establish itself as a key economic driver not only in the Highlands and Scotland – generating an estimated £275 million a year for the economy – but also the UK and beyond.
Nowhere was its importance more evident than at this year’s Maritime UK Awards, a key barometer of success in the UK’s £46.1 billion maritime sector.
The port was not only the sole Scottish winner but walked away with two flagship awards – Coastal Powerhouse and, outstandingly, Business of the Year.
Both were incredibly well deserved and testament to years of hard work, as well as a dedication to carving a hugely lucrative new future for the port.
This future has at its heart the rapid expansion in renewable projects off Scotland’s shores, with offshore wind and floating offshore wind predicted to be worth as much as £26 billion to the economy over the next 50 years.
The port has now set its sights on Scotland’s path to a green economic recovery for which the Cromarty Firth, with its naturally sheltered deep waters, is uniquely positioned. It is at the heart of the majority of a host of future multi-billion pound offshore renewable energy projects, including the ScotWind leasing round which awards leases for future offshore wind developments.
This leasing round began inviting developers to register their interest back in June last year.
According to Crown Estate Scotland, the total investment expected to be generated could surpass £8bn. Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Minister for Energy, Connectivity, and the Islands, said at the time that ScotWind was a pivotal moment for the development of Scotland’s offshore wind sector.
Bob Buskie, Chief Executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth, agrees. He says: “The importance of these projects to the Cromarty Firth, and to Scotland’s economy more broadly, cannot be underestimated. They would bring skilled jobs and high-wage opportunities to the Highlands on a level not seen since the oil boom of the 1970s.” .
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