As many as 20,000 jobs could be created in the Highlands and revolutionise the local economy if Inverness and the Cromarty Firth is granted freeport status.
Independent economic experts said freeport status would spark an employment boom in the area.
In a report, Biggar Economics said the bid for freeport status put forward by Opportunity Cromarty Firth could add a further 20,000 jobs to those already expected in the construction of a windfarm in the area.
Freeports are special economic zones where customs rules such as taxes do not apply until goods leave the area.
Opportunity Cromarty Firth has launched a bid in the latest freeport competition which will see two new green freeports in Scotland.
The consortium is made up of local business leaders and is backed by key partners such as the Highland Council and the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).
The body has argued that Inverness and the Cromarty Firth is the only location in Scotland which can deliver the ambitions set out in the UK Government’s energy security strategy which includes a five-fold increase in offshore wind capacity.
The port facilities at Invergordon and Nigg on the Cromarty Firth have already supported more offshore wind projects than any other Scottish ports.
Bob Buskie, chief executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth, said: “This report shows how the Highland economy will be transformed if Cromarty Firth gains Green Freeport status.
“It will also help the Firth level up and tackle a number of areas of deprivation, as well as enabling the UK to meet the local content targets set in the Offshore Wind and North Sea Transition Sector Deals.
Falck Renewables, BlueFloat Energy and Orsted UK, in a joint statement, said: “Many independent and industry reports into creating a successful offshore wind industry in Scotland point to the Cromarty Firth as providing the unique blend of attributes required.
“That is why we are calling on the UK and Scottish Governments to choose the Cromarty firth as one of the locations for Green Freeport status.”
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