Decision due

Cromarty and Forth tipped to win freeport bid

Freeports aim to boost trade via a variety of incentives

Ministers will announce the location of Scotland’s two green freeports in the next few days, with the Forth and Port of Cromarty believed to be favourites to get the go ahead.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack today said a decision has been reached on the successful bidders for the tax-beneficial zones and would be announced by senior figures in the UK and Scottish Governments.

“We have reached the end of the process and we want to announce this at the very highest level,” he told the Scottish Affairs Committee meeting in the House of Commons.

“It is about diary management. We are good to go,” he said. “We just need to get the right people in the right place to make the announcement.”

The 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.

Should the decision favour Cromarty and the Forth, it is likely to create an angry reaction from Aberdeen which is expected to lead an energy transition.

In a statement earlier this month, Aberdeen and Grampian 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.”

At today’s Commons hearing, Mr Jack responded to questions on the impact of Brexit by saying that in the first two quarters more trade had been done with the EU than when the UK was a member of the bloc.

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