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Five Scottish areas apply to become green freeports

One of the bids represents the Firth of Forth (Forth Ports Limited/PA)
One of the bids represents the Firth of Forth (Forth Ports Limited/PA)

Five bids have been received to create green freeports in Scotland, under a scheme agreed by the Scottish and UK Governments.

Ministers want to create two freeports north of the border which would offer special tax incentives and lower tariffs for areas around airports, seaports and rail terminals.

Bidding formally closed on Monday morning, with five formal applications from groups representing regions around Scotland received.

They are: Clyde Green Freeport, Aberdeen City and Peterhead Green Freeport, Opportunity Inverness and Cromarty Firth, Firth of Forth Green Freeport and Orkney Green Freeport.

MP portraits
Neil O’Brien said five ‘strong’ bids have been received (Chris McAndrew/PA)

Neil O’Brien, the UK minister for Levelling Up and the Union, said: “I’m delighted that our proposal to establish two green freeports has received five strong bids from ports right across Scotland.

“Now, in partnership with the Scottish Government, we will review the applications and decide which two proposals will become green freeports – hubs that will support a net zero economy in Scotland and bring hundreds of jobs to the successful areas, backed by £52 million in UK Government funding.

“I look forward to announcing the successful green freeports later this year and seeing them deliver for the people of Scotland.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack added: “We are well on our way to establishing two Scottish green freeports with five bids received.

“We will now carefully assess the bids to decide which two ports will become Scotland’s green freeports.

“UK freeports are a key part of the UK Government’s Levelling Up strategy – they will bring innovation, high-quality jobs, prosperity and regeneration for the benefit of the whole of Scotland.”

Kate Forbes comments
Kate Forbes said she was pleased at the bids (Jane Barlow/PA)

Holyrood Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “I’m pleased to see a range of bids come in from across the country to become a green freeport.

“We expect green freeports to promote regeneration in the areas selected, create high quality jobs and enhance our decarbonisation plans in the just transition to a net zero economy.

“We will now jointly assess and decide on the winning bids, following the rigorous process set out in the agreed joint prospectus in which each government has an equal say.

“Further details of the successful applicants will be set out in the coming months.”

However, the Scottish Green Party, which has two Scottish ministers as a result of a co-operation agreement with the SNP, has maintained its opposition to freeports.

The issue has led to disagreement between the Greens and the SNP.

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer said: “Branding freeports as green doesn’t change the fact that they are used as a mechanism to funnel public money to private corporations, drive down environmental standards and workers’ pay and conditions.

“There is absolutely no evidence that these projects will create real economic prosperity at all, as demonstrated by George Osborne giving up on them back in 2012.”