Edinburgh's Forth Ports says Green Freeport on Forth could bring 50,000 jobs

A public-private consortium led by Forth Ports has submitted its bid for a green freeport in the Firth of Forth which it claims could generate 50,000 new green jobs and unlock £6 billion of investment.

By Ian Swanson
Monday, 20th June 2022, 11:25 am
Updated Monday, 20th June 2022, 11:37 am

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Forth Ports said the proposed freeport, centred on Leith, Grangemouth and Rosyth, could “re-industrialise” Scotland, acting as a catalyst for new green technologies and renewable energy manufacturing.

The Forth consortium includes Babcock, Edinburgh Airport, Edinburgh, Fife and Falkirk councils, Ineos and Scarborough Muir Group.

The Scottish and UK governments plan to create two green freeports in Scotland – large zoned areas where businesses can benefit from tax and other incentives. Ahead of Monday’s deadline for bids, nine port groups had submitted “notes of interest”, including one for Aberdeen and Peterhead and another covering Clyde ports.

Forth Ports chief executive Charles Hammond said: “The Forth is Scotland’s most prized trading and industrial asset and a Forth Green Freeport enables Scotland to reduce emissions while creating technologies and jobs for the future. It will attract billions of investment for renewable offshore wind and hydrogen manufacture, enabling industrial decarbonisation and a reliable, clean energy supply with rapid distribution and export potential. Scotland has just over 20 years to deliver national decarbonisation and our bid provides an unmissable opportunity to deliver this in support of the country’s net zero ambitions.”

Forth Ports has already started work at Leith on a £50 million investment in the nation’s largest offshore renewable energy hub alongside energy giant, BP and EnBW. The Leith tax site features 167 hectares of Forth Ports-owned, under-developed land. Forth Ports says the tax incentives would support the redevelopment of the current port structure into the Leith Renewables Hub, an offshore wind manufacturing and marshalling site, supported by a cluster of offshore wind companies and a start-up incubator.

Grangemouth, Scotland's largest and busiest port, with the shortest direct freight link to Europe, handles 9 million tonnes of global cargo every year. The Grangemouth tax site includes 226 hectares of under-developed land which Forth Ports says would help to transform the port into a major logistics, manufacturing, renewable energy hub and R&D centre for the Scottish and UK economies.

A graphic shows what the consortium is proposing for the Forth Green Freeport.

Rosyth is Scotland’s largest agri-bulks hub and has the capacity to expand and create new trade routes to continental Europe. The Rosyth site comprises 168 hectares of underdeveloped land from landowners Forth Ports, Babcock and Scarborough Muir Group. The tax incentives would support Rosyth to become a hub for innovation in advanced modular manufacturing in offshore wind, shipbuilding and energy systems.

Mr Hammond said: “Our vision is for the Forth Green Freeport to reindustrialise Scotland and spread the benefits of trade widely into the communities that need it the most, through the establishment of a green growth investment corridor creating 50,000 jobs in renewable energy, green manufacturing and alternative fuels. These jobs will not just be in Grangemouth, Leith and Rosyth, but in Glasgow and Edinburgh; the Lothians, Stirling and Falkirk; and Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy.

“This is a true partnership of private and public sector organisations who share the vision for the Forth with a bid that will benefit the whole of Scotland. It will help establish the Forth as the key industrial site for supporting offshore wind deployment in the North Sea, then build on these strengths to service demand for renewable energy technologies in global markets.

City council leader Cammy Day said he was committed to the council playing an active and supportive role if the bid was successful.

New Leith outer berth with floating foundation and turbine.

He said: “This is about pushing for sustainable, inclusive growth in the North of Edinburgh and our economy as a whole. Our long-term investment in the tram extension to Newhaven is already unlocking swathes of north Edinburgh for development and regeneration. Our £1.3 billion green regeneration of Granton is creating a brand new waterfront community and cultural hub, with jobs and thousands of net zero homes.

“If a Green Freeport to Leith and a customs site at the airport are brought forward, we will continue to work to make sure North Edinburgh benefits from a whole East to West corridor of net zero economic growth. We want to see this deliver transformative change for local communities with a strategy that substantially drives forward our net zero ambitions while providing pathways into work and learning for disadvantaged young people from the area. Fair work and fair opportunities are central to this bid and it is important that they continue to be central to delivery.

"Let’s work together to propel the Firth of Forth into a global hub of innovation, renewable technology and high-quality job creation which helps us tackle our city’s poverty challenge as well as the climate crisis.”

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