Ivan McKee MSP, Minister for International Trade, Innovation and Public Finance in the Scottish Government has delivered a statement in the Scottish Parliament, in response to the UK Government’s offer of ‘Freeports’.
Mr McKee has announced that Scotland will alternatively be establishing the similar policy of ‘Greenports’ in Scotland.
This announcement follows a survey of the ports sector, local authorities and industry bodies by the Scottish Government on the role of place-based economic zones in Scotland. The Scottish Government have subsequently opted to adapt the UK Government’s Freeports proposals to target their own objectives – instead naming them ‘Greenports’.
Greenports, which we understand to be based on similar principles and mechanisms to Freeports, will encourage the adoption of best practice for businesses and will be attached to commitments to net-zero, fair work criteria and ensuring payment of the living wage, which the Scottish Ports Group is supportive of.
The Scottish Ports industry has welcomed the Scottish Government’s acknowledgement of the role ports have to play in supporting their communities, stimulating economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and assisting with net-zero transition.
However, questions do remain. We do not yet know all of the mechanisms that Greenports will include at this stage, nor how many sites will be established in Scotland.
We encourage the Scottish Government to avoid significant divergence with UK Freeport mechanisms but welcome news at this stage that incentives and support offered to Scottish green ports will be a mixture of reserved and devolved tax benefits; including non-domestic rates and land and buildings transaction tax reliefs.
Commenting, Stuart Cresswell, Chair of the Scottish Ports Group, said:
The Scottish Ports Group has welcomed the Government’s announcement today that they will be adapting the UK Government’s Freeports offer to establish ‘Greenports’ in Scotland.
Significant questions remain, notably regarding the number of sites that will be established as Greenports and the specific mechanisms that will be included here; which we look forward to receiving more detail on shortly.
However, we are delighted by the Scottish Government’s acknowledgement of the role ports can play in supporting growth, strengthening the economy and providing high-wage, high-skill jobs, which the industry is ready to play their part in.
Phoebe Warneford-Thomson, Policy Manager and Economic Analyst and lead on Freeports and Scottish policy at the British Ports Association, said:
Today’s announcement represents a real opportunity for Scottish ports and we are grateful to the Government for listening to the industry’s views on how to build a zoning-policy that creates conditions that allow ports and their local communities to flourish.
We also welcome the Minister’s acknowledgement of the need to avoid significant delay behind the English process and that they aim to launch at a similar time to the UK Government’s Freeports.
Though we eagerly await more detail on how the Government will proceed, the Scottish ports industry is ready to play its part in assisting with economic growth, and supporting a just transition to net-zero, and we hope the other devolved administrations are inspired by this decision.