Consortium urges Nicola Sturgeon to back North East green freeport bid
Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to back a bid for a green freeport in the north east of Scotland.
A consortium consisting of Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, Port of Aberdeen, Peterhead Port Authority and the city’s airport, launched the bid in June.
It is thought the green freeport could generate 32,000 jobs and provide an economic boost worth £8.5 billion over the next decade.
Two freeports, which will enjoy special tax incentives and lower tariffs around airports, seaports and rail terminals, will be created north of the border in a scheme agreed by the Scottish and UK Governments.
A free port is a free economic zone (FEZ) designated by the trade and commerce administrations of various countries.
Following Brexit, the UK Government proposed the creation of ten free ports, with eight in England already confirmed.
In a letter to the First Minister, the consortium, which is also backed by a wide range of regional organisations, wrote: “During a recent visit to Aberdeen you highlighted the Scottish Government’s commitment to reposition the north east of Scotland as the net-zero capital of Europe.”
Ms Sturgeon made a trip to the region in April where she discussed proposals to help oil and gas workers move into greener energy.
The letter continued: “This was a hugely welcome statement of intent and your Government can now play a significant role in making this commitment a reality.”
The consortium notes the freeport will bring “large-scale, advanced manufacturing” to the city to “maximise economic benefit from Scotland’s rapidly growing offshore wind and hydrogen sectors”.
And the consortium has told Ms Sturgeon that a key freeport ambition is to “usher in an era of regeneration and reverse the outflow of people from the region since 2015” which has caused significant labour shortages to key industries.
The letter also tells Ms Sturgeon the freeport bid will help some of the most deprived communities in Scotland.
It states: “The positive regeneration impact of a green freeport on these communities will not only ensure access to skills, training and job opportunities within the zone, but guarantees fairness, equality and sustainable employment.”
Five Scottish areas have bid to become green freeports, including: Clyde Green Freeport, Aberdeen City and Peterhead Green Freeport, Opportunity Inverness and Cromarty Firth, Firth of Forth Green Freeport and Orkney Green Freeport.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “A range of ambitious bids have come in from around the country to become a Green Freeport.
“The Scottish Government expects Green Freeports to promote regeneration in the areas selected, create high quality, well paid jobs, and make a significant contribution to achieving Scotland’s net zero ambitions.
“The Scottish and UK Governments are jointly assessing the bids and Scottish and UK ministers will jointly select the winners, following the rigorous process set out in the Bidding Prospectus.
“The Scottish Government expects to be able to confirm the winning bid, jointly with the UK Government, by the end of the summer and has sought assurances from the UK Government that the selection process will not be delayed by the contest to replace the Prime Minister.”