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BPA urges UK-wide approach to freeports

[ November 6, 2020   //   ]

The British Ports Association (BPA) has today written to government ministers across the UK urging that Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish ports are not left behind.

In the letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Scottish Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Ivan McKee, Welsh Minister for Finance Rebecca Evans and Northern Ireland Economy Minister Diane Dodds, BPA points out that because some of the policy tools in freeports, such as the planning and enterprise easements, are devolved and other levers such as tax and customs are reserved, there are potentially some differences in the way and timescales for designations across the UK. There are also some political differences over Freeports policy although all four governments are keen to look at strategies to promote regional growth especially given recent impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

BPA is however keen that the four nations work together and that the devolved administration’s embrace the vision which aims to stimulate growth and investment around port clusters. Unless timescales are aligned there could be a risk of economic displacement away from areas waiting for a freeport designation, it says. It is critical that a consistent process is established now, as parliamentary elections in Scotland and Wales next year and periods of purdah could bring further interruptions to the process.

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