Blog: Scottish freeports branded ‘Brexit greenwash’ as bidding process closes – The National

In February, both the UK and Scottish Government’s announced that two “green” freeports will be established in Scotland, which would offer tax breaks and lower tariffs for businesses using the special economic zones.

Five bids for the tariff free zones have been put in from the north east, along the river Clyde, in Inverness, the Firth of Forth and in Orkney.

READ MORE: Explained - Why is there an SNP-Green row over freeports in Scotland?

However the policy is backed by the SNP but not by the Greens, with MSP Ross Greer previously describing them as a “Thatcherite gimmick”.

The issue lies in the Scottish Government’s bid to brand the zones as “greenports” as opposed to the UK’s freeport model, with extra provisions on meeting net zero targets and aligning with fair work rules. The Greens have repeatedly refused to back the policy.

And now, as applications for the scheme close, North East Greens MSP Maggie Chapman has said it would be “ludicrous” to expect the trade zones to create up to 30,000 jobs.

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire council’s, the Port of Aberdeen, Peterhead Port Authority and Aberdeen Airport are hoping their joint application will be chosen.

The National: The Scottish Greens are opposed to freeports in Scotland and have called them 'greenwashing'The Scottish Greens are opposed to freeports in Scotland and have called them ‘greenwashing’

The SNP and Scottish Tories have backed the introduction of two green freeports in Scotland, with both governments striking a £52 million agreement in February.

Speaking ahead of the deadline, Chapman said: “The evidence shows that freeports have a terrible record of delivering on their promises of jobs and economic transformation.

“These proposals are just a UK Government Brexit project that has been greenwashed.

“Freeport status will result in tax avoidance and the loss of public resources and wealth to the private sector.

“At a time when we need to be investing in our communities, these tax dodging schemes will result in further money being diverted away from those who need it.”

Chapman previously described freeports as the “chlorinated chicken of industrial policy”.

READ MORE: Secret Union polling appeal granted as plea issued for support from Yes movement

The two green freeports will have a number of perks for the winning bid. The UK and Scottish Governments will provide “revenue” support to establish governance structures and business plans in the ports, seed capital for land assembly and infrastructure, a range of tax and National Insurance reliefs and customs “easements”.

North East MSP Liam Kerr said: “Freeports present a stellar opportunity for the north-east and the whole of Scotland. People across the north-east will be sick fed up of this kind of student politics.

“If this sort of extremist opinion is reaching the SNP’s ears at Holyrood, they’ve got questions to answer.

The National: Liam Kerr accused the Greens of playing 'student politics'Liam Kerr accused the Greens of playing ‘student politics’

“Wherever there’s progress to be made, you’ll find the Scottish Greens shouting it down.”

As well as the Greens, an SNP trade union group also warned against green freeports, and stated that working with Westminster to deliver them could “undermine devolution”.

On the confirmation of five freeport bids, Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said: “I’m pleased to see a range of bids come in from across the country to become a Green Freeport.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson recovers at home after undergoing sinus operation at hospital

“We expect Green Freeports to promote regeneration in the areas selected, create high quality jobs and enhance our decarbonisation plans in the just transition to a net zero economy.

“We will now jointly assess and decide on the winning bids, following the rigorous process set out in the agreed joint prospectus in which each government has an equal say. Further details of the successful applicants will be set out in the coming months.”

The Scottish Government confirmed bids were received from Clyde Green Freeport, Aberdeen City & Peterhead Green Freeport, Opportunity Inverness and Cromarty Firth, Firth of Forth Green Freeport and Orkney Green Freeport.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s