BUSINESS groups and public bodies are backing plans to set up so-called “greenports” in Scotland.

Nine informal notes of interest were submitted by organisations across Scotland as ministers continue with a public consultation.

The Scottish Government’s greenport model has been presented as an adaption of the UK Government’s freeport plan.

SNP ministers say it will help deliver a net-zero emissions economy and incorporate a “fair work first” approach.

The notes of interest come as part of a Holyrood consultation with stakeholders, which is designed to provide further insight into the places and businesses that can benefit from greenports.

The Scottish Government says it is continuing to engage with the UK Government to agree a joint proposal that best meets the needs of business and communities in Scotland.

Business Minister Ivan McKee commented: “This demonstrates a real appetite for the comprehensive and exciting proposals published by the Scottish Government to deliver green ports. With nine notes of interest submitted by industry and public bodies to help deliver these plans, it is evident our ambitions on fair work and net zero are aligned to the interests of business.

“With clear industry support we would once again encourage the UK Government to recognise that green ports are aligned to the needs of businesses and communities in Scotland."

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He added: “Green growth is crucial to our economic recovery – something recognised by UK Ministers with the publication of the UK Board of Trade report on green trade and the Chancellor’s comments on the importance of ensuring a green recovery. Given these UK-wide ambitions, we would expect UK Ministers to support the Scottish Government’s green port ambitions on fair work and net zero.

“We remain committed to working in partnership to deliver green ports that will help create a sustainable economy that promotes good jobs and supports our important net zero commitments.”

Freeports are designated areas where arriving goods are exempt from tax charges, with payments only required when they leave the port. They aim to encourage economic activity in a specific area – prior to 2012 there were five in the UK, but they were scrapped under the Tory-LibDem coalition. The current Conservative Government is keen to bring them back to post-Brexit Britain.

The Scottish Government has proposed altering freeports to greenports, which would be similar but involve staff being paid the living wage and a requirement to commit to the net-zero transition.

The SNP have expressed concerns over the freeports system, warning they are linked to criminality, tax evasion and poor workers’ rights – and could trigger a “race to the bottom” on standards.

Earlier this week, The Telegraph reported that the UK Government was set to launch freeports north of the Border despite Scottish ministers’ opposition.

Tory ministers are said to be unhappy with the Scottish proposals. They say changing the name “undermines the freeport brand”, and accused the Holyrood government of “irresponsible nationalism”.

As talks between the two sides stalled, a UK Government source said: “As things stand, it appears the Scottish Government are seeking to manufacture a constitutional row rather than work with us on what's best for the economy.”