Hundreds of carbon neutral jobs possible says Martina Anderson after discussing ‘Innovation Zone’ at Foyle Port with harbour chiefs

Establishing an ‘Innovation Zone’ in Derry could create hundreds of jobs, according to Martina Anderson, who enthused about the prospect after meeting Foyle Port officials.

The Foyle MLA said she was encouraged to hear Port Chief Executive Brian McGrath acknowledge the role the protocol has played in ‘protecting the port from the devastation of Brexit and ensuring it can continue to trade on an all-island basis.’

Back in February Mr. McGrath told the Stormont Infrastructure Committee that thanks to the hard work invested in the Brexit transition the harbour had experienced ‘no impact on our trade flows’. He said the port is now working on the development of Derry as an ‘Innovation Zone’ under an expected forthcoming ‘Freeport’ competition. Mr. McGrath said it is in alignment with the ‘City Deal geography and the innovation-led renewables/green agenda that we in Foyle see free ports helping us develop our business and support the economy’.

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Ms. Anderson said: “Plans are now progressing to establish an innovation zone at the port to take advantage of these opportunities. This would operate within the protocol guidelines and, for example, create a location where companies specialising in processing large amounts of data could operate with access to carbon neutral data storage facilities, potentially creating hundreds of jobs.

“We also discussed the port’s plans for developing hydrogen based technology and the need for the Department of Infrastructure to offer the same level of financial assistance to Foyle Port as it does for Belfast to ensure regional balance.

“I will be working with the port and the local Strathfoyle community in the coming months to ensure the plans for the Innovation Zone meet the needs of both the facility and local residents,” she said.