GREENOCK'S Inchgreen Dry Dock is set to be transformed into a major marine industry hub building 'proper boats' under plans being drawn up by the newly appointment boss of Clydeport.

Jim McSporran has declared that a series of projects aimed at rejuvenating the facility are 'close' to being finalised - and he has won the support of a local pressure group fighting to secure the facility's future.

Mr McSporran — an oil and gas industry veteran of 25 years — has lifted the lid on his vision for unleashing the potential of Inchgreen.

The new Clydeport director said: "We're looking at projects where we could be building boats at Inchgreen, proper boats.

"And we're close to coming over the line with that."

Mr McSporran said he 'can't name names' at this stage but it was likely that he would be able to do so 'in the next couple of weeks'.

He said: "That's a huge win for the area.

"We're talking about bringing job creation into the Clyde region, boat building back."

He added that apprenticeship schemes were also in the pipeline.

Mr McSporran added: "Everybody's got to be interested in that, and we've got some big, heavy-hitting companies talking to us now."

Before joining Clydeport's parent company, Peel Ports, Mr McSporran was group managing director of Streamline Shipping, an Aberdeen-based international logistics business.

From next January he will also be the duty holder of the Clydeport Authority and the Ardrossan Port Authority.

The Campaign to Save Inchgreen Dry Dock yesterday welcomed Mr McSporran's appointment and said it was looking to secure talks with him.

Robert Buirds, secretary of the campaign, said: "We wish to be upbeat on his appointment and his much needed vision for the Clyde and Inchgreen building real boats.

"Hopefully we will get the opportunity to meet Jim to discuss Inchgreen's future and enquire what financial support he will receive from the Peel group to fulfil his ambitions."

Mr Buirds added: "We will give support for our industrial regeneration of Inchgreen and our waterfront and sincerely hope this change of direction will bring new opportunities for work, well-paid jobs and hope.

"Our community needs a bright and prosperous future and we wish Jim well in his Clydeport career and making a contribution towards this endeavour."

A recent idea to boost the attraction of Inchgreen to major marine businesses is to turn part of Inverclyde into a freeport.

Campaigners hope to bring quality new jobs to the district by creating a zone where normal tax and customs rules don't apply and where imports can enter with simplified documentation without paying tariffs.

Businesses operating within the designated area would be able to manufacture goods using the imports and add value before exporting again without ever facing full tariffs or procedures.

The UK Government is currently looking to create a number of freeports for the post-Brexit era.