port with shipping containers in a maritime setting

Scotland to get two ‘green freeports’ with focus on net zero commitments

Image credit: Dreamstime

The UK and Scottish governments have agreed to collaborate on two “green freeports” that will be built in Scotland.

Freeports are special areas within the UK’s borders where different economic regulations apply and are centred around one or more air, rail, or seaport, but often extend beyond it too.

The Department for Levelling Up said the new hubs will support the regeneration of communities across Scotland and will bring jobs to the region.

The Green Freeports will be built with net-zero targets in mind as prospective bidders will have to make a pledge to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2045.

The bidding process will open this spring with hope that the new sites will be operational by the same time next year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Freeports will help to accelerate our plan to level up communities across the whole of the United Kingdom.

“They have the power to be truly transformational by creating jobs and investment opportunities to enable people to reach their potential, and I am delighted that people across Scotland will reap the benefits that will come from having two new Green Freeports.”

The levelling up secretary Michael Gove has also discussed similar proposals with the Welsh government, and “good progress” has been made towards an agreement that would see a new freeport delivered in Wales as well.

“This is a truly exciting moment for Scotland, and I am delighted we will be working together with the Scottish government to set up two new green freeports,” Gove said.

“Green freeports help inject billions into the local economy, while levelling up by creating jobs for local people, and opportunities for people all over the UK to flourish.

Scottish government cabinet secretary Kate Forbes said: “Scotland has a rich history of innovative manufacturers and so as we look to grasp the many opportunities of achieving net-zero, the establishment of Green Freeports will help us create new green jobs, deliver a just transition and support our economic transformation.”

Officials from the UK and Scottish governments will jointly assess the prospective bids to ensure they meet their shared goals, and ministers will have an equal say on the final selection of the locations.

Any sea, air or rail port can apply as part of a consortium with other businesses, the council, and other relevant public bodies. However, any consortium wishing to bid to establish a green freeport must guarantee that local communities will benefit from it, as well as delivering on ambitious targets for Net Zero.

Ross Greer MSP, a finance spokesman for the Scottish Green party, condemned the proposals. He said: "The Greens will have nothing to do with this corporate giveaway. A little greenwashing won't change the grim reality of these freeports.

"They are yet another way of handing tax breaks and public money to rich corporations, despite no evidence that it will create real economic prosperity."

The locations of England's eight new freeports were announced at last year’s Budget in March as a way to try and boost the local economies of some of the UK’s more deprived areas.

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