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Caithness News Bulletins November 2004

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FORESTRY PROJECT COULD PROVIDE 500 NEW JOBS IN HIGHLANDS
Ross and Cromarty Enterprise (RACE) has approved funding towards a study into the potential construction of a 1bn state-of-the-art integrated pulpmill, papermill, sawmill and renewable energy generation plant at Delny, Invergordon.

RACE, together with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise, will provide 200,000 towards the 500,000 cost of completing the feasibility phase of Forscot Ltd's large-scale timber processing plant.  If given the go-ahead, the project could create an estimated 500 full time jobs and over 3,000 jobs during the construction stage.

The study, which is likely to be completed in spring 2005, will investigate both the project's viability and impact on the surrounding area and environment.

The areas to be explored include: the logistics of transporting raw materials to and from the site and the impact on road, rail and seaborne infrastructures; the environmental and visual impact; and pulp, paper and energy market studies.

Gordon Cox, chief executive of RACE, said: "We are delighted to have been able to help in the early stages of this very exciting project.

"Scotland is one of the few places in the world where future availability of timber outstrips current demand, and this is a fantastic opportunity for the Highlands to capitalise on the nation's natural assets."
Jim Wallace, Deputy First Minister and Minister for Enterprise said: "This is potentially an exciting project for both the local economy and the whole of the Highlands and Islands. A feasibility study is a critical first step and I welcome the course of action the company is taking. There are clearly important issues to be explored, including the environmental impact and I very much look forward to hearing the results."

Councillor Sandy Park, Chairman of The Highland Council's Planning Development Tourism and Europe Committee, said he was delighted that Forscot had chosen Delny, near Invergordon, as the preferred location for their "mega-site" development. The 100-hectare site, he said, was zoned in the Local Plan for Ross and Cromarty East for major timber-based industrial use.

He said: "This news is a real boost for an area which was the industrial heartland of the Highlands during the boom years of the oil fabrication industry. The prospect of a major manufacturing industry returning to the area is very welcome indeed and I am sure the skills base is available to take advantage of this exciting new project."

He said there were significant issues, particularly transport, to be resolved. "We look forward to working with the company to that end," he added.