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Moray's new civilian aerospace industry taking off

By Lorna Thompson

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MORAY'S emerging civilian aerospace industry offers a valuable jobs pipeline for the area's young talent, councillors heard this week.

In an update on the area's economic picture on Tuesday to councillors, economic development and infrastructure services committee chairman Graham Leadbitter also indicated that full-to-capacity Forres Enterprise Park was poised for expansion.

Mr Leadbitter said: "There has been a huge amount going on in economic development in the last year."

As well as positive ballots for both the Elgin BID and Tourism BID schemes and the council close to signing heads of terms with the Scottish and UK governments on the £65 million Moray Growth Deal, Mr Leadbitter said: "One of the major things that's happened in the Moray economy in the last couple of years is that we now have a civilian aerospace industry – which we've never had.

"By having a civilian aerospace industry it means that we have an employment pipeline and a careers pipeline. People can get a career close to home – within Moray. We're talking hundreds of jobs in a brand new sector.

"If you add in the likes of Orbex (in Forres) producing space rockets, that's another tremendous boost to the economy. When they're fully up and running that'll be in excess of 100 jobs again."

The annual report to the committee for 2018-19 offered an overview of the council’s role in developing the Moray economy.

It stated that in addition to growth deal activity the period saw significant inward investment in high growth/value added sectors with Orbex setting up in Forres, and from SLAM Worldwide, an international multimedia company.

The Prime rocket from Orbex, has an engine which was 3D printed at Forres Enterprise Park. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
The Prime rocket from Orbex, has an engine which was 3D printed at Forres Enterprise Park. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

Meanwhile work is ongoing by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) at Barmuckity Business Park and Forres Enterprise Park. At Barmuckity HIE has backed a private developer to build roads and services, opening up 30 hectares of land, and work on a new Travelodge is nearing completion.

And in Forres, where the enterprise park is full to capacity, a second phase is being planned. Mr Leadbitter described the enterprise park as a "hidden gem".

He said: "HIE are confident and have some people they're speaking to. They're pretty cagey about it – mainly because these things are commercially sensitive – but they are being very positive when I've been speaking to them about the prospects for getting more businesses into the enterprise park.

"It's worth noting – and I think most people in Moray don't realise – that in the enterprise park now there are over 1000 people employed in the various businesses that are there.

"It's a hidden gem. When you go in there and you see some of the new buildings and some of the new businesses that are expanding I think there are good prospects.

"At Burmuckity Business Park I'm aware of a number of businesses that are likely to be coming in there over the next couple of years. There is a plan for getting businesses in there over the next two years."

Labour Councillor John Divers (Elgin City South) emphasised that many of the new jobs coming to Moray would be well-paid. He added: "We have a lot of people in Moray who are low-paid. We are the third in the low-pay scale over Scotland and 38 per cent of our employed are either part-time or on zero-hour contracts. So let's ensure our young people do know and encourage them to stay in this area."

Independent Councillor George Alexander (Forres) said the developments were the results of years of work in the background.

And Conservative Councillor Marc Macrae (Fochabers Lhanbryde) said the developments should encourage more people to stay, stemming Moray's "brain drain".

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