Forth Greenport deserves​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ government backing - Liz McAreavey

Scotland finally looks set to reap the potential benefits offered by Freeports – enterprise zones created to encourage business investment and growth through tax incentives and benefits.
Liz McAreavey is Chief Executive of Edinburgh Chamber of CommerceLiz McAreavey is Chief Executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce
Liz McAreavey is Chief Executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce

And better still, the strong case being made for a Freeport based in the Firth of Forth has taken a step nearer reality as we understand the UK and Scottish Governments are working hard to finally resolve differences to come together to help boost the economic recovery north of the Border.

That is good news, given that England has already pushed ahead with the creation of eight Freeports.

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The creation of Freeports – or Greenport as they are being called in Scotland – had stalled north of the Border as the two governments disagreed over terms for establishing the tax beneficial zones. It appears that differences between the Scottish Government and UK governments’ position on the Living Wage are being resolved, with employers within Greenport areas now asked instead to consider it.

And so, agreement has finally been reached to create and fund two Greenports in Scotland.

The Edinburgh Chamber will do all it can to support the Forth Estuary bid, which we believe will prove hugely beneficial to the economic recovery of the city, the city region, Scotland and the UK.

Forth Ports is leading the bid for a Firth of Forth Greenport, targeting clean growth, and high-value manufacturing and processing across a number of the group’s assets including the ports of Leith, Rosyth and Grangemouth. As well as the sea ports, the plans would include an industrial hub and also Edinburgh Airport which offers international connectivity, all based around the Forth estuary.

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Forth Ports is determined to ensure that the boost to the economy created by a Greenport will support the just transition to a Green Economy. Forth Ports has said their interest in creating a Greenport is underpinned by their belief in the government policy behind it to create economic zones for investment and regeneration which will encourage greater inclusive growth, fair work practices and help to deliver Scotland’s net zero economy.

Edinburgh Chamber believes that a Forth Estuary bid should succeed, not least because the Edinburgh city region, which is largely based around the Firth of Forth, generates around 30 per cent of Scotland’s GDP (despite having just 16 per cent of the population) and around 2 per cent of the UK’s GDP. In other words, it is a major driver of the economy and is vital to the economic wellbeing of Scotland and, indeed, the UK.

In addition, the same area is responsible for something in the region of 25 per cent of our nation’s carbon emissions. So an enterprise zone with a clear focus on delivering on our national net zero targets and encouraging inclusive and fair growth, must be welcomed.

Forth Ports proposal for a Leith Renewables Hub has been universally welcomed as a development that will play a key role in meeting Scotland’s green ambitions, creating thousands of green jobs in the process. In addition, Forth Ports voluntarily resubmitted a housing development for planning approval to make the development more sustainable and to reduce its carbon footprint further.

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Greenports offer tax breaks on investments, waivers on business rates and national insurance contributions as well as lower land transactions tax. Goods entering the greenport are exempt from tariffs normally paid to the government so long as they are used for items that are to be exported rather than moved to another part of the UK.

Government often asks what it can do to support businesses to grow and prosper, delivering jobs and opportunities, while delivering the green economy. A Forth Greenport would be a terrific place to start.

Liz McAreavey is chief executive, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce