The director general of the Institute of Export & International Trade, Marco Forgione, has hailed the announcement of the two successful Scottish freeport sites, saying the ports will be at the “heart” of the transformation of the UK economy.
Scotland’s first two ‘green freeports’ were officially announced on Friday (13 January), with Cromarty Firth and the Firth of Forth being named in a joint announcement by the UK and Scottish governments, beating submissions from three other sites in North East Scotland, Orkney and Clyde.
“The freeports will be positioning Scotland particularly – and the UK generally – at the very forefront of transformative technologies that are going to deal with decarbonisation and environmental protection,” Forgione told BBC Scotland.
"In terms of the decarbonisation agenda, we're looking at world leading innovative technology for large scale floating offshore wind and other important technologies,” he added
Scotland’s green freeports are special economic zones created under a scheme agreed by the UK and devolved Scottish governments, reports the BBC.
The successful sites will be able to offer tax incentives and lower tariffs, As well as helping regenerate their areas and create jobs, a key distinction of the Scottish freeports is that they must support the transition to a net-zero economy.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak, who officially announced the successful bids in Cromarty on Friday (13 January), said the announcement proved that “working together delivers results”.
“In extending the benefits of freeports to Scotland, we are unleashing the potential of the Firth of Forth, and Inverness and Cromarty Firth – backing the delivery of thousands of high-quality green jobs for future generations, as we continue to make gains on our commitments to transition to net zero,” he said.
Scotland’s deputy first minister John Swinney said the choice followed a rigorous joint selection process and the government looked forward to working with winners to deliver maximum positive impact and become operational as soon as possible.
“Scotland has a rich history of innovation, trade and manufacturing and as we look to seize the many opportunities achieving net zero offers, the creation of these internationally competitive clusters of excellence will help us to create new green jobs, deliver a just transition and support our economic transformation,” he said.
The Scottish government will also work with unsuccessful bidders to consider how they can build on the plans set out in their bids to deliver jobs and growth, Swinney said.
Levelling up secretary Michael Gove said freeports would benefit from more investment to truly level up communities that have been overlooked.
“Inverness and Cromarty Firth and the Firth of Forth are fantastic areas for these new green freeports to set up, ensuring the benefits are felt right across Scotland,” he said.
Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary, had said in October that the decision on the sites had been made, but the announcement was delayed as a result of Liz Truss’ departure as PM, reports the Times.
Forth Ports, which led the Firth of Forth bid, claims it can create 50,000 new, high-quality jobs in renewable energy, manufacturing, sustainable fuels and construction.
The Opportunity Cromarty Firth consortium said it could create 25,000 jobs.
Westminster will provide £52 million of funding for the winners with Holyrood also making contributions.
It is anticipated that the sites will attract £10.8bn in public and private investment, the government has said.
As previously covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update, England’s latest two freeports were authorised by the government last week meaning that most are now open for business.