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Letter to Treasury

McKee concern at delay in setting up green port

Ivan McKee

Ivan McKee: ‘disappointed’ (pic: Terry Murden)

Trade Minister Ivan McKee has expressed disappointment that the Treasury has delayed negotiations over a proposed green port in Scotland.

As part of the UK government’s plan for recovery Scotland is expected to get one of 10 UK-wide tax-efficient freeports – renamed green ports by the Scottish government as it insists on the inclusion of conditions such as fair work and commitments to net zero.

Last weekend he urged the UK Government to confirm it was ready to launch the Applicant Prospectus by close of business on 22 March, stating that if he had not heard back by that date “we may have to conclude that the UK Government has effectively withdrawn from this process”.

There was no communication from London and just ahead of the election campaign launch Mr McKee wrote to Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay expressing his disappointment. He said he was particularly concerned that now the Scottish election campaign has begun nothing can be done until May.

Mr McKee said Holyrood had been working on the plan since the Budget announcement on 3 March.

“Industry stakeholders across Scotland have been very clear that the process in Scotland should launch as soon as possible in order to minimise any competitive disadvantage as a result of launching some months after the process for England,” he writes.

“Unfortunately, we are now in a position that, as a result of the continued delay on the part of the UK Government in agreeing the final text for the applicant prospectus, this deadline has not been met.”

He reminds Mr Barclay that because of the election campaign neither government can publish the prospectus nor launch the bidding process during that period.

Mr McKee says that should the SNP be returned to government “we will not support the imposition of any model here in Scotland that does not have the delivery of our ambitions for net zero emissions and a Fair Work First approach at its core.”

In a response to Daily Business a UK Government spokesman said: “We are continuing to work constructively with the Scottish Government and are keen to get Freeports up and running in Scotland as quickly as possible. Freeports in England have already been announced and we’re keen that Scotland does not lose out.”

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