Delay frustration

Bidders hopeful of decision on green freeports

Container ship KC Liner
Freeports will be granted a number of trading benefits

Bidders awaiting a decision on Scotland’s green freeports are hoping a decision will be announced before the end of the month and possibly as early as this week.

Two winners will be selected from five bidders – North East Scotland Green Freeport (NESGF), Opportunity Cromarty Firth, Orkney Green Freeport, Forth Green Freeport (FGF), and Clyde Green Freeport.

The bidders are competing for a package of support that will include £52m in seed funding from the UK Government, tax and customs allowances and investment incentives for areas around airports, seaports and rail terminals.

Rumours circulated in the north east last week that the government was planning to announce the outcome of the bid process following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

It was claimed that a press conference was planned by Opportunity Cromarty Firth and quickly cancelled when it became clear no announcement was scheduled.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said last month that a decision had already been reached privately, but no reasons have been given for the delay in making an announcement which is already said to have cost Scotland three investment projects.

However, the SNP’s Green Party partners said earlier this year that they would not support what they regarded as a ‘greenwashing’ deal with fewer jobs likely to be created than promised. Co-leader Patrick Harvie was blamed by the UK government for insisting on special conditions in the Scottish bids.

Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce believes that backing the NESGF bid – covering the ports in Aberdeen and Peterhead would offer some compensation for the windfall tax imposed on the region’s energy companies.

In a statement following the Autumn Statement, the Chamber’s policy director Ryan Crighton said: “Aberdeen and its energy sector is again plugging the UK’s fiscal deficit and the bare minimum we should be getting in return is a Green Freeport and the acceleration of support for the Acorn project on the Buchan coast. 

“We must now hear positive announcements on both of these projects in the months ahead. Anything else will amount to a complete betrayal of this region.”

Riversimple – which has developed the pioneering Rasa hydrogen vehicle – has been in talks about building a 150,000 sq ft manufacturing plant in Aberdeen if it secures freeport status.

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