Green freeports in Scotland: ‘There will be a fair process’, says Kate Forbes despite ‘lovers’ tiff’ with Scottish Greens

Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes insists there will be a fair process in the implementation of green freeports in Scotland despite Scottish Greens criticisms of the plans (Photo: Jane Barlow).

Kate Forbes’ comments come as the UK and Scottish governments have agreed there will be two “green freeports” in Scotland.

The ports will be special economic zones offering businesses tax breaks and free tariffs.

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The announcement coincides with Boris Johnson’s visit to Scotland on Monday morning as he has said that freeports are part of leveling up plans.

Yet, Scottish Greens disagree with the deal, saying the freeports give tax breaks and public money to multi-national companies.

Ross Greer of the Scottish Greens told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland that the ports are a “corporate giveaway” and are a means of “greenwashing”.

Green freeports are excluded from the cooperation agreement with the Greens and the SNP.

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Greens split with SNP over plans for two ‘green freeports’

The SNP government was initially against freeports, however, the Scotland’s finance secretary has said four things have changed since the initial disagreement.

Speaking to Good Morning Scotland on Monday, Kate Forbes said: “Those are firstly that we will have equal say on the decision so we are proceeding on the basis of a partnership of equals.

“Secondly, we will get full, fair funding. The funding for the green freeports has essentially doubled from what it was a few months ago.

“Thirdly, there are decarbonisation plans at the very heart of the green freeport approach.

“And lastly, and most importantly for us, fair work will be embedded at the heart of that.

“There will be a fair process.”

Iain Stewart, parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland said he agreed with the Prime Minister that the ports will make a ‘transformational impact’ across the UK.

Mr Stewart said that the collective achievement of the greenports across the UK is expected to create additional economic activity of £25 billion.

Speaking on the BBC programme, he said: “This forms part of our long term vision of the economy particularly as we look to grow back after the restrictions of the pandemic.”

The freeports in England have already been announced and the freeports in Scotland will be jointly decided by both governments.

“Some of the levers are returned in Scotland and that’s why quite rightly we had a good negotiation with the Scottish Government.

“If this is a case of a lovers’ tiff on Valentine’s Day between the Greens and the SNP then that’s not for me to intrude in.”

All applicants for the freeports will have to lay out how they intend to implement fair working practice – including the real living wage – with the bidding taking place from March onwards.

“If a bidder doesn’t adhere to fair work practices then they won’t win” said Ms Forbes.

She added: “We will not support an economic initiative like this unless it shifts the dial on net zero.”

Ms Forbes said the aims is to publish a prospective on the ports in Scotland in March with the hope that winning bids will be announced over the Summer.

“We hope that greenports are operational at the end of the year.” said Ms Forbes.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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