Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed an announcement form First Minister Alex Salmond which will pave the way for major renewable energy development in the Pentland Firth
Mr Gibson was speaking following the Caithness Regeneration Conference which was addressed by the First Minister. Mr Gibson said that the commitment shown by the SNP Government to renewable energy will pay great dividend to the economies of Caithness, Orkney and North Sutherland.
The First Minister announced during the conference that Scottish Power has identified the Pentland Firth (as well as the Sound of Islay) as the first sites for commercial tidal farms, and that the Crown Estates has decide to open the Pentland Firth seabed for commercial marine energy projects to generate more than 700MW of energy by 2020.
Mr Gibson said:
"This is extremely welcome news for Caithness Orkney and beyond. The First Minister's announcement marks the start of a new period in marine renewable development and it is clear that the Pentland as well as the areas bordering it will the centre of that development.
"As the First Minister said the Pentland Firth can be the Saudi Arabia of marine power which makes his announcement great news for the North's renewables industry, as well as the local and national environment and economy."
"The conference was a success and shows that the wide community of Caithness is focusing in on moving towards a new future where marine renewables will be the major focus, the organiseres deserve huge credit for their work."
"The enormous opportunities that the Pentland Firth offers mean increased investment, more jobs and new opportunities. I find that prospect exciting."