circle circle
 Harboured ambitions for Scotland’s maritime infrastructure
Marine economy

Harboured ambitions for Scotland’s maritime infrastructure



A “critical milestone” has been reached in Scotland’s marine industry with the establishment of the tax sites within the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport.

Once fully operational, it is expected this Green Freeport, one of two in Scotland alongside its counterpart on the Firth of Forth, may lead to the creation of more than 10,000 jobs for the Highlands and Islands, and around £3bn worth of investment. Already we’ve seen Japanese company Sumitomo commit to a £350m inward investment project to establish major operations in the region. The company plans to build a high voltage cable manufacturing facility next to the Port of Nigg, supplying the offshore wind sector. This investment is already benefitting the local supply chain in many ways.

It’s clear that this development, as part of wider investment into Scotland’s marine infrastructure, could have a significant impact not just on its local community, but on Scotland and the UK for many generations to come. The Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport will be a major contributor to the region’s future prosperity, and Harper Macleod is proud to advise the team and support its ambitions, including in relation to the critical first step of getting the tax side development agreements in place with landholders.

Towards the end of last year, we took a deep look into the opportunities at Scotland’s Green Freeports, bringing together the key players and interested parties in both locations. A report into what we heard can be read here – Scotland’s Green Freeports – An Empowered Opportunity. In summary, there is already a huge amount of momentum behind both sites and a real willingness to move forward at pace. We also heard that public and private sector collaboration is happening with public bodies creating the right investment environment, and the private sector stepping up to get involved.

There are 11 major ports in Scotland, defined as major because they handle more than 1m tonnes of goods a year. Among these is the Port of Cromarty Firth. There are a further 200 smaller ports and harbours across Scotland, such is the importance of Scotland’s marine and maritime sector to the regional and UK economy.

Picking out just a few examples of recent investment, highlights the importance of these ports to the wider economy, as well as the opportunities which exist for investors.

The Orkney Harbours Masterplan, an ambitious blueprint that will form a framework for the long-term future of those islands, including the potential for a new deep-water facility at Scapa Flow. This work could see Orkney play a pivotal role in Scotland’s energy transition as a key storage area for the floating wind market. Orkney’s cruise market is also growing and is estimated to be worth £15m to £20m to the local economy alone. Our infrastructure team is instructed by Orkney Islands Council in relation to procurement of the harbour infrastructure, including the Scapa Deepwater Quay Project.

Further south, the US firm Quantum Energy Partners has made a £300m investment into the 450-acre Port of Ardersier to accelerate the port’s redevelopment. Quantum and the port’s owners, Haventus, aim to create vital capacity and services to the offshore wind sector, and the North Sea decommissioning programme. The Port of Ardersier is the largest brownfield site in the UK.

With these in mind, it’s encouraging to see the importance and placing that Scotland’s ports and harbours infrastructure has within the programme for UK REiiF which takes place this month.

A team from Harper Macleod is heading to Leeds for this extensive programme of events, including Euan Pirie who leads our major projects and infrastructure practice and has an important role in advising both the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport and Orkney Islands Council on major ports and harbours projects. Ports and harbours are high on our list of topics to discuss. Contact us for more information or to meet if you’re going to UK REiiF.

We have advised Scotland’s growing marine economy for many years. Our teams in Inverness and Edinburgh are within the boundaries of the respective Green Freeports in the north and east of Scotland. We have a strong track record of delivering for Scotland’s marine economy and understanding of the important issues affecting Scotland’s ports and harbours and the associated maritime supply chain.

Our expertise spans the full spectrum of the ports and harbours infrastructure and associated supply chain including: renewable energy, commercial property, banking & finance, employment & immigration, design & manufacturing, and corporate, commercial & regulatory advice.


Glasgow Edinburgh Inverness Elgin Thurso Shetland
Get in touch

Call us for free on 0330 912 0294 or complete our online form below for legal advice or to arrange a call back.

Speak to us today on 0330 159 5555

Get in touch


Get in touch

Call us for free on 0330 159 5555 or complete our online form below to submit your enquiry or arrange a call back.