Green Energy Conference: Sustainable energy gives region hope, says Highland Council Leader

Highland Council leader Raymond BremnerHighland Council leader Raymond Bremner
Highland Council leader Raymond Bremner
Highland Council Leader Raymond Bremner, pictured, told The Scotsman’s Highlands and Islands Green Energy Conference in Inverness last week that securing green freeport status will transform the region.

He said green energy offers Highland new hope and that work begins now on developing the necessary skills for a future workforce.

Observing that he award of green freeport status to Inverness and Cromarty provides Highland with an opportunity to attract more than £2 billion in inward investment, Bremner told delegates that up to 25,000 new jobs could be created across various sectors.

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In his keynote speech, he said: “It is impossible to dispute Highland’s legacy in energy generation, a legacy that continues to deliver a highly skilled and sought-after workforce, who over the past two decades, have brought their skills to energy projects around the globe.

“While our young workforce still gravitates to the energy industry, for too long they leave school expecting to join a mobile workforce seeking careers on distant shores far from their Highland homes.

“Today we have the chance to reverse this trend by offering opportunities for highly-skilled, well-paid jobs in an area that provides a quality of life that rivals anywhere in the world.”

The Highland Council has confirmed its ambitions for energy development through recent work on the development of solar and battery storage projects across the region and the completion of studies on the potential for the growth of heat networks in Inverness and across Highland.

Bremner added: “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.”

Last year Highland Council was invited to submit an investment plan to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is one part of this Levelling Up agenda.

Earlier this year, the local authority gained government approval for a £1 million investment in skills. The criteria of this fund are that it must support local areas to fund local skills needs, and importantly, green skills. The council is currently discussing with business representatives, Skills Development Scotland, UHI and HIE about how best to target these funds.

More information about the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport and members of the consortium is available onlineat greenfreeport.scot

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