Scottish Government Update on Greenports
The Scottish Government has announced that it will progress plans to develop a 'green port' model designed to meet the specific needs of Scotland’s economy.
A statement from Business Minister Ivan McKee stated that the UK Government were not willing to commit to the Scottish Government's fair work conditions and net zero specifications for the proposed free trade zones.
Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack had argued that if Scotland were to develop the freeports alone, the Scottish Government would only have enough funding for one site, while tax rules would leave Scotland’s versions at a competitive disadvantage.
The letter from Jack to McKee set out the UK Government’s offer for Scottish freeports, but explicitly stated that any reference to the real living wage be removed from bidding requirements.
The offer included tax relief of up to £120m over five years at the two sites, with capital allowances, employers’ national insurance contributions and customs benefits set to be exempt from tax.
Funding would have been allocated through the Barnett formula, with approximately £5m having already been provided to the Scottish Government and an additional £13m anticipated to set the projects up.
Commenting on the Scottish Government’s update on progress of the establishment of Green Ports in Scotland, Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:
“This is an incredibly disappointing development and it is highly regrettable that a shared agreement on the design and implementation of a freeports model for Scotland could not be reached between the Scottish and UK Governments. This situation should have been avoided and many businesses will view the lack of cooperation and partnership with dismay.
“The UK Government’s decision to move forward on its own, whilst disappointing, will be welcomed by many ports who have invested significant time and money in anticipation for bidding for the status. We need to receive details urgently of how businesses can bid and what the next steps are. We cannot afford any further delays especially when Scotland is already behind other parts of the UK, impacting on our ability to attract global investment.
“We also understand the Scottish Government intends to pursue its Green Ports model. Business will need the detail of how this will operate and will urgently need confirmation from both governments that investment incentives will be mirrored across the UK to prevent competitive disadvantage for Scottish businesses.”
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