TWO Scottish cities have been selected as the sites for the UK Government’s first “investment zones” in Scotland.

Aberdeen and Glasgow will officially be designated as investment zones, with each region being supported with up to £80 million of investment in a scheme that also includes numerous tax relief measures.

Indeed, the areas will have enhanced rates for Capital Allowances and Structures and Buildings Allowance as well as being exempt from Stamp Duty Land Tax, Business Rates and National Insurance contributions.

A key part of the UK Government’s levelling up strategy, these are the first investment zones to be announced outside of England.

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The UK Government has said the investment zones are focused around research institutions such as universities and driving growth in areas including technology and the green sector.

Meanwhile, Scottish ministers have tailored the agreement in an attempt to ensure it aligns with the country’s net-zero ambitions.

The zones – which were first announced by former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng during Liz Truss’s brief stint as prime minister – have previously been criticised by the RSPB, who fear they will result in a weakening of environmental protections in the designated areas.

They believe the sites will be used by councils to bring forward new housing and industrial projects at speed, with developers attracted by tax breaks and less regulation.

As plans for nature-friendly development or biodiversity protection are not contained within the policy documents for investment zones, the RSPB claim that nature has effectively been “side-lined” in these areas.

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Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove welcomed “constructive” conversations with First Minister Humza Yousaf and Deputy First Minister Shona Robison.

He said: “This is a historic milestone as we widen the opportunity and ambition of the investment zone programme to grow the economy across the whole of the United Kingdom.

“I am very appreciative of the constructive approach the First Minister and Deputy First Minister have shown in the meetings I have had with them in recent weeks.

“We all have shared ambition to work together to see all parts of Scotland thrive and today’s agreement builds on our successful rollout of green freeports in Scotland earlier this year.”

Gove said with Aberdeen and Glasgow’s reputation for the oil and gas and shipbuilding industry respectively, the funding will help them expand on its contribution to the economy.

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The Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray said: “This is a milestone in the delivery of investment zones in a way that enhances Scotland’s economy while aligning with our distinctive priorities.

“Scotland already has a strong track record in innovation and research and the investment zones can build on these strengths.

“They will form part of a joined-up approach that draws on the expertise of our world-leading research, education and training institutions, dynamic business sector and skilled workforce and will enable local communities to benefit.”