A PORT near Inverness is set to help create “thousands of jobs” after a US private equity fund committed £300 millionn to help with its redevelopment.

The Ardersier port will serve as a site for the rollout of North Sea wind power and this development marks a significant investment in renewable energy.

The port’s construction yard was key to development of the North Sea oil and gas sector in the 1970s and 80s, but shut 20 years ago as demand for new platforms dried up.

However, the recent push into offshore wind aims to give the 450 acre site new life, with the investment designed to transform it for the deployment of turbines and the decommissioning of old oil and gas assets.

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Quantum Energy Partners will make a £300m equity investment in the port and has appointed former BP executive Lewis Gillies as chief executive of the port’s new parent company, Haventus.

The investment is equivalent to almost 10% of all private equity deals done in Scotland last year, according to KPMG.

Quantum partner Michael MacDougall said: “The site’s scale and geographical location means it is ideally positioned to become a leading European hub for offshore renewable energy.”

Gillies meanwhile said the port would help to support “thousands of jobs” in the construction phase and hundreds long-term.

He said: “Our project will bring a huge number of much-needed jobs to the Highlands economy both in the construction phase and for the long-term.

“Ardersier will be a vital facility for the deployment of offshore wind and the scale of the site will also allow decommissioning of ageing oil and gas assets.”

Part of the port’s redevelopment will involve a significant extension of the site’s quay to accommodate larger vessels.

SNP MP Drew Hendry welcomed the news, saying the investment could not be “underestimated” when it comes to “strengthening the local economy”.

He added that it “underlines the attractiveness of the Highlands as the place for the future of energy”.

Gillies, who has worked with private equity backers in Texas since leaving BP, said Quantum was looking at a long-term investment rather than the traditional five to seven year timeframe favoured by private equity firms, according to the Financial Times.

He said the company was already having “strategic” discussions with wind farm developers and manufacturers to ensure the port redevelopment was designed to exactly meet their needs.