The Pentland Firth and the land bordering it will be of strategic importance to the whole of Scotland according to SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands Rob Gibson.
Speaking ahead of the much-anticipated Caithness Regeneration Conference in Thurso (this Monday) Mr Gibson said that Caithness and Orkney were on the brink of a future of unparallel importance. However he warned that the investment made in marine development must be matched by similar investment on land.
"It is not entirely clear the amount of investment that will go into the Pentland Firth, however it is going to be a vast sum. Therefore money must be invested in transport improvement in existing facilities (such as harbours) so that the areas bordering the firth will have a chance to flourish."
"You can look at the tidal devices in Portugal currently generating 2-3 megawatts, that is small beer to the potential that lies off the coast of Caithness. The truly positive force that Caithness, Orkney and the Pentland itself can deliver is not confined in a local or national context but I believe can truly be global. However this will never happen if the facilities are not in place."
"That means ease of transport links to and from the North, state of the art ports which can cope with heavy traffic and goods, get the basics right and the North Coast as well as the Orkney will be at the forefront of the global economy and scientific world. That's why my colleagues in the Transport, Infrastructure and climate change committee this week decided to look at the petition of the association of Caithness Community Councils in their review of the Strategic Transport Projects Review when it is published by the Government."
"At the moment the cost of such infrastructure may seem problematic for a sparsely populated area but compared to the dividends which could (and I believe will) flow from the Pentland Firth then in years to come people will say it was a small price worth paying."