There once was a view held by some in my profession, that the Highlands was not the place to practise 'exciting' law. In fact, my career has shown me that the opposite is true and I speak from the experience of having moved from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye 17 years ago. That belief in the region and those who live and work here has also guided Brodies in expanding its presence locally. We opened our Inverness office just over a year ago, and in that time our team has grown to 15 based in the office, supported by our colleagues living further afield in the Highlands and Islands and across our other offices.

The diversity, innovation and scale of projects that are underway, many of which have progressed considerably in the past year alone, underpins a positive outlook for the region in terms of long-term growth, particularly in regrowing our communities' populations.

The transition towards cleaner energy continues to drive business activity and investment. Our firm represented Quantum Energy Partners in their £300 million investment to accelerate redevelopment of Ardersier Port into a major energy transition facility. Ardersier has recently joined the group driving the Inverness and Cromarty Green Freeport, which is expected to generate thousands of jobs for the region.

Away from the green freeport there are more plans for expansion in Highland waters.

In the Outer Hebrides, Stornoway Port Authority nears completion on its £59 million deepwater terminal – a transformational project on which we have provided a wide range of legal support. Once operational, the port will be able to host major cruise ships alongside, provide support to renewable energy projects, including those arising from ScotWind, and have much increased quayside and laydown facilities.

On Shetland, we have supported Lerwick Port Authority on its legal requirements for over a decade, with developments to provide decommissioning facilities and an enhanced quayside and new fishmarket; important contributors to the local economy.

Innovation and ambition to do something different will drive the next chapter of green energy, and that can be seen in the journey of Orkney-based company Orbital Marine Power as it looks to scale the world's most powerful tidal turbine. Our lawyers advised the company on its successful fundraise from the Scottish National Investment Bank and public offer of secured debentures via crowdfunding platform Abundance Investment, to fund refinancing and operational measures.

The north of Scotland is expected to play a key part in the much debated roll-out and upgrade of large scale grid infrastructure too, powering homes locally and across the UK and transmitting the renewable energy needed to support Scotland's journey towards net zero. Our renewables experts have provided support on various projects across the Highlands and Islands, which once completed, will generate enough green energy for almost 400,000 homes.

The scale of development scoped out for the region is remarkable, and is necessary to encourage repopulation of our Highland communities. It provides young people with tangible, exciting and prosperous career opportunities in their own backyard, instead of feeling that their only viable option is to move out of the region.

The challenge lies in providing other amenities and 'life necessities' that accompany a job. Findings from our recent report suggest that housing needs a commitment from developers before major projects come on stream. This requires support from local and central government in providing the confidence for those developers to make such a bold move.

There is much to be positive about for the region, and given the progress of projects in the past year alone, I am looking forward to seeing what the next 12 months bring.