THE location of Scotland's first "green freeports" has been announced by the Scottish Government. 

Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport and Forth Green Freeport were jointly selected by the Scottish and UK governments. 

The two winning bids will be supported by up to £52 million in start-up funding and will benefit from tax reliefs and other incentives through a combination of devolved and reserved powers.

Green freeport applicants in Scotland were required to demonstrate how they would contribute towards a just transition to net zero emissions by 2045 and sketch out how they create new, green jobs in their area. 

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “This is a milestone achievement in the process to deliver Green Freeports for Scotland. Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport and Forth Green Freeport will support businesses to create high-quality, well-paid new jobs, promote growth and regeneration, and make a significant contribution to achieving our net zero ambitions. 

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“A rigorous joint selection process has been followed. The successful applicants showed a strong determination to embed fair work practices, including payment of the Real Living Wage, and to enshrine net zero initiatives in their work.

“We look forward to working closely with them to ensure they deliver maximum positive impact and become operational as soon as possible.

“We will also work with the unsuccessful bidders to consider how they can build on the plans set out in their bids to deliver jobs and growth in their regions outside the Green Freeports programme.

“Scotland has a rich history of innovation, trade and manufacturing and as we look to seize the many opportunities achieving net zero offers, the creation of these internationally competitive clusters of excellence will help us to create new green jobs, deliver a just transition and support our economic transformation.”

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said:

“Scotland has areas of outstanding opportunity but there are also places that can benefit from more investment to truly level up communities that have been overlooked.

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“This is a shared challenge faced by us all across the UK, which is why I’m delighted the UK and Scottish governments have collaborated to deliver two Green Freeports in Scotland, which will undoubtedly be transformative for future generations.

“Inverness and Cromarty Firth and the Firth of Forth are fantastic areas for these new Green Freeports to set up, ensuring the benefits are felt right across Scotland. This will help to create exciting new jobs, boost business and encourage investment in the local areas and beyond.”

However, the Scottish Greens have labelled the ports a "gimmick". Their introduction was one of the areas excluded from the Bute House agreement between the Greens and the SNP

The Scottish Greens finance spokesperson, Ross Greer MSP said: "There is nothing green about so-called green freeports. They are a failed and dated Tory gimmick which hands public cash over to multinational corporations. They offer big tax breaks to businesses while driving down terms and conditions for workers and risking significant damage to the environment.

"Where Freeports have been attempted they have only made regional inequality worse by moving jobs around the country, rather than creating new ones. Internationally, they have been consistently associated with crime, money-laundering, smuggling and low wages while driving down environmental standards.

"Under the deal struck for Scottish freeports there are no hard requirements for the companies to meet climate targets or implement fair work practices. Warm words don't protect people and the environment from greedy corporations, legal obligations do. In this case there is plenty of the former and nowhere near enough of the latter.

"Freeports will only benefit the super-rich and the big corporations who have pushed hardest for them. Local people and communities certainly won't see the benefit if precedent from across the world is anything to go by.”

But politicians from the SNP have welcomed the announcement, claiming it will be a "major driver" to local economies. 

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Dunfermline and West Fife MP, Douglas Chapman said: 

“This long-awaited announcement is very welcome and could prove to be a major driver to our economy in West Fife with the likes of the Port of Rosyth and our coastline towards Kincardine benefitting from significant investment in new green industries, skills, entrepreneurship and long term, sustainable well-paid jobs.

“This announcement comes a matter of months behind Dunfermline becoming Scotland’s 8th City which was another signal that this constituency is on the up and has the potential to grow and attract new opportunities to the area.

“Dunfermline now sits at the heart of our regional economy, with state-of-the-art new high schools and a new college all coming online from the middle of this decade, and now an opportunity to revive our port facilities. We have all the ingredients to make Dunfermline and West Fife one of the most attractive places to start and grow a business, a family and a successful, sustainable green economy.”

During a visit to Inverness, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was asked for his response to the scepticism expressed by some about the benefits of green freeports. 

He said: “They’re going to bring jobs and investment to the region. Actually, going out and about today talking to people, they are so excited about what this means for their local area.

“That’s why we’ve seen in England that once we’ve announced freeports, you see companies investing more money, jobs created.

“I want to bring those same opportunities here to Scotland, so I’m delighted that we’re able to do that today.”