Council leader highlights Highlands investment opportunities at international event

Council leader highlights Highlands investment opportunities at international event

Highland Council leader Raymond Bremner (centre) at this week's UKREiiF event in Leeds

The leader of The Highland Council, councillor Raymond Bremner, laid out the region’s investment potential at the UK Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF).

The leader and Allan Maguire, Highland Council’s head of development & regeneration, attended this week’s event in Leeds as part of a delegation from the Scottish Cities Alliance.

Cllr Bremner seized on the opportunity to highlight investment opportunities across Highland, including the Inverness and Cromarty Green Freeport, renewables, hydrogen, tourism, the burgeoning space industry, and culture, labelling the region as “one of Europe’s best places to invest”.

Caithness and Sutherland, cllr Bremner’s home region, already generates a significant amount of energy and has ambitious plans for expansion, including the 2000MW West of Orkney Wind Farm and the growing MeyGen tidal array. The area is also set to become a hub for space exploration with the launch of vertical satellites from the Sutherland Space Port in 2024.

Speaking to delegates at the UKREiiF event cllr Bremner said: “SSEN Transmissions are investing £20 billion this decade in new and upgraded network infrastructure, the area is home to the proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site at the Flow Country with millions of investments available in carbon credits. And 2,000 tonnes of hydrogen is produced at Gordonbush Wind Farm in Sutherland.”

He added: “This year Highland was ranked 6th by fDi Intelligence (part of the Financial Times) in its flagship ‘European Cities and Regions of the Future.

“To rank so highly against other regions across Europe reflects the excellent work the council and our partners are doing to make the whole of our area an attractive prospect for investors.”

Cllr Bremner emphasised the Highlands’ potential as a green energy powerhouse, stating that the region “is fast becoming recognised across the world as a hub for green energy generation”, and that “it is now time to seize the initiative and invest in making it happen, to secure a fair share of the income derived from the development of the region’s natural resources”.

The leader also told delegates about the work being done by The Highland Council to support the delivery of the Inverness and Cromarty Green Freeport.

“Developing the outline business case, and the work sitting alongside this in setting up a Green Freeport, was a significant piece of work for the council,” cllr Bremner said. “This is one of the most important projects this council has ever been involved in and has the potential to transform the Highlands, bringing jobs, economic regeneration, and prosperity for many years to come.”

He continued: “Green energy offers Highland new hope and opportunities to provide future generations with the opportunity to develop a highly skilled career without having to leave the region.

“We need to be at the forefront of re-skilling the local workforce to adapt to the demands of Net Zero. We need to engage with senior school pupils around new skills and ensuring the training is available to start their career path into the green energy future.

“By investing in skills, working people, and communities we can create a workforce for a sustainable economy in the green energy sector.”

Cllr Bremner explained that the Inverness and Cromarty Green Freeport has the potential to create thousands of well-paid and secure jobs, has a strong private-public structure with a dedicated team, features 520 hectares of development land with financial incentives and support, can attract over £3bn investment in green energy projects, holds £25 million of seed capital to accelerate investment, and is making strong inroads in new floating offshore wind industry and green hydrogen.

He also spoke of the region’s tourism industry, saying: “The Highlands is what people often come to Scotland and the UK for. Each year it generates over £1.6bn in direct spend each year within the region, employ 25,000 people, attracts over 7m visitors, and is regularly voted the best place to visit by global travel leaders.

“Inverness has been identified as 3rd (out of 35 cities) in Colliers UK Hotels Market Index for 2024 due to destination appeal, limited pipeline under construction and favourable build and land costs.

“The opening of the refurbished Inverness Castle next year, with its world class visitor experience, will further attract visitors to the city and act as a gateway to explore the rest of the region.”

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