Port of Cromarty on crest of a wave

The Port of Cromarty Firth has recorded its best ever year after turnover jumped by £1 million, helping to fuel further investment.

Annual turnover rose to £9.9m  the highest in the ports 40-year history. Picture: Contributed

Annual turnover rose to £9.9m – the highest in the port’s 40-year history, new figures have revealed.

Bosses said the strong financial position would enable the business to continue to invest in major developments, such as the new quayside and laydown space, which is in the planning stages to be built through the next couple of years.

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The past year was described as an “extremely busy one” for the port, which saw it diversify from its core business of oil and gas to renewables, decommissioning and cruise.

Chief executive Bob Buskie said: “At the start of 2016, with low oil and gas prices, we knew the port had to adapt to sustain our growth and help keep local people in work.

“Firstly, supporting our core customers in oil and gas was a key concern. After the necessary consultation, we introduced a new pricing for statutory dues in January 2017, which meant an average 5 per cent reduction in fees for most clients, supporting them through the downturn.

“Secondly, the port had to look to the future and see what we could do to help sustain jobs and growth. This is where our diversification strategy came in, with 2017 seeing us undertake a project to introduce decommissioning to the port in an open port policy, where our supply chain could bid for work under our licences.”

Cruise continued to be a success story in 2017, with the port being named as the busiest in Scotland. In another record-breaking year, the facility welcomed 93 ships and more than 150,000 passengers to the Highlands. This represented a 54 per cent increase on 2016.

The direct spend from these passengers was worth more than £15m to the local economy and provided a boost to a range of attractions.