THE UK Government will undermine devolution if it establishes freeports without consulting devolved governments, Scottish and Welsh ministers have said.

Both governments say that Downing Street has signalled its intention to move forward without devolved consent.

They have also raised concerns as Tory ministers have failed to provide any assurances they will not legislate in devolved areas. 

Both Scottish and Welsh ministers have said that they will “robustly challenge” any attempts by the UK Government to legislate in devolved areas.

READ MORE: Free Port plan for Scots city should be shunned ... and this is why

Freeports, usually located around airports or shipping ports, allow goods that arrive from abroad to be exempt from tariffs, normally paid to the Government. 

Tariffs are only paid if the goods leave the freeport and are moved elsewhere in the UK, otherwise, they are sent overseas without the charges being paid.

However, instead of freeports, the Scottish Government wants to pursue greenports which they say would “aim to offer a package of assistance to businesses that adopt fair work practices and contribute to Scotland’s just transition to a net-zero emissions economy”. 

The UK Government potentially legislating in devolved areas has also raised concern among both the Scottish and Welsh governments. 

The National:

Business Minister Ivan McKee said: “The Scottish Government remains committed to working in partnership with the UK Government, however we cannot sign up to a UK policy which does not respect devolution, undermines the Scottish economy and fails to provide equivalent funding to what is on offer for ports in England. 

“UK ministers have failed to work with us to ensure their proposals best meet the needs of business and communities in Scotland. 

“Should the UK Government move forward with a proposal that does not include a commitment on fair work and net zero, the Scottish Government will not support this initiative.

​READ MORE: Why would anyone think Free Ports are a good idea?

“To ensure there is not a race to the bottom on workers’ rights and the environment, the Scottish Government will challenge any attempts by the UK Government to impose their model in Scotland by legislating in devolved areas, which would be a breach of the spirit of the Devolution settlement. 

“I would strongly encourage the Secretary of State for Scotland and other UK Ministers to work with us to ensure we can deliver green ports in Scotland.”

The Welsh Government has again written to the UK Government asking for an urgent discussion on how they can take these plans forward given there has yet to be a formal offer made for a freeport to be established in Wales.

The National:

Welsh Finance Minister Rebecca Evans added: “We have consistently attempted to engage constructively with the UK Government and reach agreement on a way of implementing freeports in Wales which is consistent with our priorities and values as a Government. 

“The UK Government is pressuring the Welsh Government to redirect its resources to deliver a UK Government policy priority. 

“This approach is unacceptable to us, and we have made clear that the UK Government needs to demonstrate the same level of financial commitment to Freeports in Wales as they have in England.”