Chambers of Commerce give support to Forth Green Freeport project
Image credit: Foto 227801126 © Julian Gazzard | Dreamstime.com
Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, Fife Chamber of Commerce and Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce said the bid for a Forth Green Freeport would be "truly transformative".
Three chambers of commerce, which represent nearly 1,500 international and Scottish businesses, have declared their support for a green freeport in the Firth of Forth.
The leaders of the three chambers have written joint letters to the UK and Scottish governments, describing the bid as Scotland’s best opportunity to deliver a just transition to net zero, attract £6bn of inward investment, and build significant international trade and export capability.
Freeports are special areas within the UK’s borders where different economic regulations apply and are centred around one or more air, rail or sea port, but often extend beyond it, too.
“By 2030, the ScotWind revolution has the potential to create up to £30bn in additional investment and revenue from the North Sea," said Alan Mitchell, chief executive of Fife Chamber of Commerce. “The Forth Green Freeport will dramatically drive up UK-produced manufactured content by enhancing strategic sites along the Forth Estuary to ensure that the skills base and innovation assets anchor as many as possible of the 25,000 new offshore wind jobs locally.”
The three chambers said the bid has the potential to create Scotland’s largest offshore wind marshalling and manufacturing hub and 50,000 high-quality, green jobs in areas of local deprivation.
The project was first announced last February, with the goal of building two freeports in Scotland with net-zero targets in mind, as prospective bidders will have to make a pledge to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2045. At the time, the Department for Levelling Up said the new hubs will support the regeneration of communities across Scotland and will bring jobs to the region.
Forth Green Freeport was among five groups which in June submitted bids to become freeports. The others were Clyde Green Freeport, North East Scotland Green Freeport, Opportunity Inverness and Cromarty Firth, and Orkney Green Freeport.
Led by Forth Ports, the bid consortium comprises both private and public organisations including Babcock, Edinburgh Airport, INEOS, Scarborough Muir Group, Falkirk Council, Fife Council and The City of Edinburgh Council.
"The Forth Green Freeport is different from other bidders in terms of scale, added value and community engagement," said Lynn Blaikie, president of Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce. “For instance, the new technology-backed skills development centres will address areas of acute deprivation within our communities by extending opportunities in a form that young adults can relate to.
“This is vital to realise the green energy, logistics and fuels vision for Grangemouth.”
Liz McAreavey, chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “A green freeport programme without the Forth at its heart would substantially limit Scotland’s economic potential and would only serve as a boost for our competitors across northern Europe.
“Delivering a just transition for Scotland’s industrial heartland needs to be carefully planned to achieve the 2045 net-zero target without damaging the economy”.
The area around the Forth Green Freeport generates 40 per cent of Scotland’s industrial emissions and handles half of the nation’s economic output.
Scotland has recently been driving the transition to net zero. In May, four Scottish cities - Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee - announced they would be introducing low-emission zones in order to improve air quality, with many older vehicles banned from city centres. Earlier in the year, the outcome of Scotland’s latest offshore wind leasing auction was revealed, with 17 projects approved for an eventual generating capacity of 25GW.
A recent study from Robert Gordon University estimated that the Scottish workforce could increase to a total of 54,000 by the end of the decade compared to approximately 45,000 today if Scotland were to become established as a ‘Global Energy Hub’ for offshore wind.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.