Freeports are a zoned area within a defined boundary which includes rail, sea or airport links, the principle behind the scheme being that these economic zones can use the lower levels of taxation to encourage trade, economic growth and regeneration.
The UK Government announced it would support the development of ten Freeports across the UK, with eight already established in England. Green Freeports, Scotland’s version, will contribute to its goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.
The deadline for bids is next month and there are nine ports across Scotland currently in the running, for two sites: Firth of Forth, Dundee, Glasgow, Cairnryan, Shetland, Orkney, Aberdeen, Peterhead and Montrose.
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The vision for the Firth of Forth bid, which would include the Port of Leith, the Port of Rosyth and the Port of Grangemouth, is to provide an essential platform for Scotland’s decarbonisation through the creation of a green growth investment corridor. The bid also has support from Edinburgh Airport, which would be included in the zone.
A green port along the Firth of Forth aims to create up to 50,000 high-quality green jobs, as well as contribute to the regeneration of Edinburgh’s waterfront. These are the lead policy objectives for the Scottish Government, along with transitioning to a net-zero economy, establishing trade hubs and innovation.
Creating a green growth investment corridor along the Firth of Forth would be beneficial financially for the whole south-east of Scotland, as well as driving the move to decarbonisation in Scotland.
The petrochemical, oil and gas cluster and its industrial complexes at Grangemouth and Mossmorran account for 40 per cent of Scotland’s industrial emissions, which is equivalent to ten per cent of carbon emissions across the United Kingdom. A Firth of Forth green port would be ideally situated to transition Scotland to a net-zero economy.
A central purpose of the project is to attract outside investment to Scotland and increase trade. A Firth of Forth Green Freeport would be well placed to deliver investment incentives to the organisations that choose to locate within it.
Forth Ports would deliver new manufacturing facilities, infrastructure upgrades and green incubators to drive business growth. The Forth Ports Group already has a strong track record of investing in infrastructure, with £300m of new port infrastructure at Dundee and Tilbury2, to support low-carbon energy generation and distribution.
We are at a critical time in the bids process, with only a few weeks left until applications are due.
A Firth of Forth Green Freeport would be a catalyst for Scotland’s green economy and a real boost for growth. The creation of 50,000 new, high-quality jobs in renewable energy, manufacturing, sustainable fuels and construction would be hugely beneficial for people in Edinburgh, Falkirk and Fife.
I’ve been pleased to help support the Forth Ports bid and, working cross-party with MSPs and MPs who represent the areas around the Forth, I hope we can do everything possible to highlight the great opportunity this presents for all our communities.
Miles Briggs is Conservative MSP for Lothian