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Business / Governments agree deal for two ‘green freeports’ in Scotland

Shetland previously expressed a note of interest in becoming a green port

Shetland previously expressed a note of interest in becoming a green port. Photo: Pixabay

THE UK and Scottish governments have reached a “landmark deal” for establishing two ‘green freeports’ in Scotland.

It comes after the Scottish Government confirmed last year that interest had been submitted in Shetland becoming a green port.

Other areas which had submitted notes of interest included Orkney, Aberdeen/Peterhead, Dundee and Glasgow City.

A green freeport would be a specific area which offers tax reliefs and other incentives to encourage growth in industry, and it would contribute towards a just transition to net-zero.

Any sea, air or rail port can apply as part of a consortium with other businesses, the local council and other relevant public bodies, although it can extend up to 45km beyond the port.

There is a requirement that local communities will benefit from any freeport.

Applicants will be asked to show how they would support high-quality employment opportunities that “offer good salaries and conditions, and how fair work practices will be embedded in the green freeport area”.

The hope is that the two new freeports will be operational by spring 2023.

The UK Government said as part of its “levelling up” scheme it is “determined to ensure every corner of the UK can reap the benefits of our freeport programme”.

As a result of the recent negotiations, UK ministers are expected to provide up to £52 million in “seed funding” to help establish green freeports in Scotland, which is in line with funding offered to freeports across England.

As part of a compromise the term green freeport is being used in Scotland to reflect the government’s “distinctive net zero aspirations”.

Economy secretary Kate Forbes said: “I am pleased we have been able to reach an agreement on a joint approach that recognises the distinct needs of Scotland’s economy and enshrines the Scottish Government’s commitment to achieving net-zero and embedding fair work practices through public investment.

“The Scottish Government will have an equal say on all bids, and will expect bidders to adhere to fair work practices including payment of the Real Living Wage.

“Scotland has a rich history of innovative manufacturers and so as we look to grasp the many opportunities of achieving net-zero, the establishment of internationally competitive clusters of excellence will help us create new green jobs, deliver a just transition and support our economic transformation.

“We can only seize Scotland’s economic potential if we create secure, sustainable and satisfying jobs that also help build a fairer, more prosperous economy for everyone.

“That is my absolute priority and establishing green freeports will be integral to achieving this.”

UK prime minister Boris Johnson said: “Freeports will help to accelerate our plan to level up communities across the whole of the United Kingdom.

“They have the power to be truly transformational by creating jobs and investment opportunities to enable people to reach their potential, and I am delighted that people across Scotland will reap the benefits that will come from having two new green freeports.”

The next steps in the process will be set out by ministers as soon as possible, the government said.

Winning bids are expected to be announced over the summer.

Both Shetland Islands Council and LerwickPort Authority have been approached for comment.