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UK and Scottish governments reach agreement on Green Freeports

A partnership agreement to establish two Green Freeports in Scotland has been reached between the UK and Scottish governments, with the former expected to provide up to £52m in funding.

Freeports are special areas within the UK where different economic regulations apply and during last year’s Budget, the first eight in England were announced.

Following discussions in recent months, both governments have agreed:

  • To establish a joint applicant prospectus, with Ministers and officials from both governments having an equal say throughout the assessment and selection process.
  • That applicants in Scotland are required to contribute towards a just transition to net zero emissions by 2045, delivering net zero benefits and creating new green jobs.
  • That applicants in Scotland are required to set out how they will support high-quality employment opportunities that offer good salaries and conditions, as well as how fair work practices will be embedded in the Green Freeport area.

Both governments have agreed that a joint offer set out in a prospectus offers the maximum benefits for the Scottish economy as both will be able to deliver tax reliefs and other incentives through a combination of devolved and reserved powers.

Commenting, the UK Government’s Minister for Intergovernmental Relations and Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove said:

“This is a truly exciting moment for Scotland and I am delighted we will be working together with the Scottish Government to set up two new Green Freeports.

“Green Freeports help inject billions into the local economy, while levelling up by creating jobs for local people and opportunities for people all over the UK to flourish.  

“By collaborating and using opportunities like Green Freeports, we can work to level up the whole of the UK and bring benefits and opportunities to communities that need it most.” 

The Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, Kate Forbes added:

“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.”

According to the Scottish Government, the term Green Freeports reflects their net zero aspirations.

The UK Government will continue to use the term Freeports for its programme in the rest of the UK.

The next steps in the process will be set out by Ministers as soon as possible, with a finalised joint prospectus and joint assessment process expected to be published in March, with winning bids announced over the summer.

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