Associated British Ports mulls Cromarty investment

Associated British Ports (ABP) has announced a deal to investigate an area “for the development of infrastructure to support offshore wind (OSW) manufacturing, assembly and marshalling and green energy” on the Cromarty Firth within the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport.

ABP said the area, which lies within the proposed Nigg and Pitcalzean area of the Green Freeport, could support both fixed-bottom and floating offshore wind (FLOW) projects and play a major role in the development of current and future ScotWind leasing rounds.

“The Cromarty Firth offers an attractive combination of physical and geographic advantages with a strong current group of ports and energy business and benefits from a Green Freeport location,” said ABP.

“ABP’s vision is add to this compelling existing ecosystem to help maximise the delivery of investment, jobs and opportunity for the Cromarty Firth and the wider region.

“Over the coming months, ABP will work closely with key local stakeholders and the community as they consider the potential of the location.”

ABP CEO Henrik Pedersen said: “Offshore wind offers huge potential to generate green energy and – if the right conditions are in place – significant jobs and prosperity benefits to Scotland and the UK.

“We’re excited to explore the potential of Nigg, applying our experience across the UK, including at our Ports of Grimsby, Hull, Lowestoft and Barrow which already host significant offshore wind activity and at Port Talbot, where we are developing a Floating Offshore Wind port project.

“We look forward to working with key local partners, the community, and public sector stakeholders.

“This new project emphasises ABP’s commitment to supporting green growth projects and is closely linked to our recently launched sustainability strategy – Ready for Tomorrow – which sets out plans for reaching net zero from our own operations by 2040”.

Calum MacPherson, Chief Executive Officer of the Inverness & Cromarty Firth Green Freeport, said: “The Inverness & Cromarty Firth Green Freeport welcomes today’s announcement by Associated British Ports.

“Offshore wind presents great new potential for growing investment and good jobs for the Inverness and Cromarty Firth areas.

“It’s good to see an additional experienced port operator coming on board who wants to work with the existing Green Freeport members and local communities to help maximise the potential of the area.”

Andy Reay, Head of Offshore Wind for ABP, said: “This is an exciting development that plays a vital role in supporting delivery of the UK’s net zero commitments and the requirements for offshore wind projects in Scottish waters.

“Ports play a vital role in supporting the UK’s green energy transition.

“Today’s announcement will further cement ABP’s reputation as a leader in supporting the offshore wind industry with, for example, the world’s largest offshore wind Operations & Maintenance (O&M) port at its Port of Grimsby and hosting the UK’s largest wind turbine component-manufacturing plant at Green Port Hull.”

ABP’s existing ports on the West Coast of Scotland at the entrance to the Firth of Clyde – the Ports of Ayr and Troon – have recently also played an important role in supporting the delivery of onshore wind projects including the South Kyle windfarm and Kirk Hill.

The ABP news came after Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport (ICFGF) forecast that wide ranging incentives and multi-generational benefits offered by the initiative will lead to the creation of more than 10,000 new jobs in the Highlands and a further 6,000 across the UK.

The organisation has also predicted over £3 billion of fresh investment will be attracted as Green Freeport status helps realise the area’s potential to become the largest European hub for the development of the offshore wind industry and associated renewable energy technologies.

ICFGF CEO Calum MacPherson said the figures demonstrated the “huge opportunity” the initiative presented to address the challenge of working age depopulation in the Highlands and to accelerate economic growth and innovation, as well as growing and decarbonising the offshore energy industry in the UK.

ICFGF was established as a company earlier this year, following the announcement by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in January that Inverness and the Cromarty Firth would be the location of one of two Green Freeports in Scotland.

The company’s Outline Business Case for the development of the Green Freeport is due to be submitted to the Scottish and UK governments this week.