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Nicky Marr: Freeport win is a chance for a bright Highland future


By Nicky Marr

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Green Freeport Press conference. PM Rishi Sunak. Picture: Callum Mackay...
Green Freeport Press conference. PM Rishi Sunak. Picture: Callum Mackay...

You’ll have heard the news then? Last week, Rishi Sunak flew into the Highlands to congratulate search and rescue teams, toast marshmallows with Sea Scouts, and meet Nicola Sturgeon.

He also officially confirmed what this newspaper group had announced a few days earlier, which is that one of two new green freeports for Scotland will be in the Cromarty Firth and Inverness area.

Last summer I had barely heard of ‘green freeports’, or ‘Opportunity Cromarty Firth’, but in July I was asked to host a discussion with the main parties behind our local bid. Bids from five areas across Scotland had been submittedto Michael Gove last spring, with the understanding that two would be chosen to share ‘levelling up’ funding of up to £52 million. In addition, the two chosen Green Freeports would benefit from tax reliefs and other incentives. The main aim of the freeports is – and here I’m quoting the Scottish Government website – “to contribute towards a just transition to net zero emissions by 2045 and create new, green jobs.” Applicants were “also required to set out how they would support high-quality employment opportunities with fair work conditions at their core.”

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