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Forth Ports group unveils Green Freeport bid

[ June 20, 2022   //   ]

A Forth Ports-led public and private sector consortium has unveiled its vision for a green Freeport for Scotland as part of the bidding for two locations under the Scottish government’s plans.

It encompasses three key ports on the Forth (Grangemouth, Leith and Rosyth); industrial facilities and logistics centres along the north and south shores of the Firth of Forth; and Edinburgh Airport – covering 550 acres of development land.

The partners says that the zone be focused on the Forth estuary but will have a much broader impact across Scotland, with the potential to create up to 50,000 new ‘green’ jobs and unlock £6 billion of private and public investment.

As well as the Forth Ports, the bid consortium includes Babcock, Edinburgh Airport, Falkirk Council, Fife Council, City of Edinburgh Council, INEOS and Scarborough Muir Group.

The Port of Grangemouth, Scotland’s largest port and principal export hub (handling 30% of Scottish GDP and 9m tonnes of cargo a year) and is home to its major petrochemical cluster. The INEOS Grangemouth site has a long-standing track record of strength in petrochemicals. The Grangemouth tax site includes 226 hectares of under-developed land which will help to transform the port into a major logistics, manufacturing, renewable energy hub and R&D centre for the Scottish and UK economies.

At the Port of Leith, close to Edinburgh city centre, Forth Ports has already started work on a £50 million investment in what it describes as the nation’s largest offshore renewable energy hub alongside energy giant, BP and EnBW. The Leith tax site features 167 hectares of Forth Ports-owned, under-developed land. The tax incentives will support the redevelopment of the current port structure into the Leith Renewables Hub offshore wind manufacturing and marshalling site, supported by a cluster of offshore wind SMEs and a start-up incubator.

The Port of Rosyth is Scotland’s largest agri bulks hub, which Forth Ports says has the capacity to expand and create new trade routes to continental Europe. It was until recent the terminus of Scotland’s sole international ferry route, a status that Forth Ports hopes to revise.

The Rosyth site comprises 168 hectares of underdeveloped land from landowners Forth Ports, Babcock and Scarborough Muir Group. The tax incentives will support Rosyth to become a hub for innovation in advanced modular manufacturing in offshore wind, shipbuilding and energy systems.

At the small port of Burntisland on the northern bank of the Forth Estuary, 19 hectares has been ringfenced for designation as a customs site, extending the Leith Renewables Hub across the north and south shores of the estuary and will ‘twin’ the Leith and Burntisland propositions, creating the largest offshore wind development area in Scotland.

At Edinburgh Airport, a 13 hectares customs zone at the Global Air Park is designated for air-related logistics and warehousing expansion targeted at the growth markets of e-commerce, pharmaceuticals and perishables. Edinburgh Airport is the largest freight handling airport in Scotland and the largest mail handler, managing 50% of the nation’s air mail.

Forth Ports chief executive Charles Hammond said: “The Forth is Scotland’s most prized trading and industrial asset and a Forth Green Freeport enables Scotland to reduce emissions while creating technologies and jobs for the future. It will attract billions of investment for renewable offshore wind and hydrogen manufacture, enabling industrial decarbonisation and a reliable, clean energy supply with rapid distribution and export potential. Scotland has just over 20 years to deliver national decarbonisation and our bid provides an unmissable opportunity to deliver this in support of the country’s net zero ambitions.

“Our vision is for the Forth Green Freeport to reindustrialise Scotland and spread the benefits of trade widely into the communities that need it the most, through the establishment of a green growth investment corridor creating 50,000 jobs in renewable energy, green manufacturing and alternative fuels. These jobs will not just be in Grangemouth, Leith and Rosyth, but in Glasgow and Edinburgh; the Lothians, Stirling and Falkirk; and Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy.

“This is a true partnership of private and public sector organisations who share the vision for the Forth with a bid that will benefit the whole of Scotland. It will help establish the Forth as the key industrial site for supporting offshore wind deployment in the North Sea, then build on these strengths to service demand for renewable energy technologies in global markets.

“Our team already has a track record of successfully delivering a freeport in England; we have unlocked large, undeveloped industrial sites; and we have credible investors lined up to deliver the innovation required for inclusive and sustainable growth in Scotland’s economy.”

Leader of Falkirk Council,, Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, added: “The Forth Green Freeport has the aims and objectives of regeneration, high-quality job creation, decarbonisation, a just transition, trade and investment, and innovation at its heart. It presents an opportunity for the governments to bring forward transformational change to the communities along the Firth of Forth. These are communities that have long felt the impact of carbon intensive industries and the decline of traditional industries, and we, along with our partners are committed to ensuring that this transformation occurs as a priority.”

Fife Council spokesperson for Finance, Economy and Strategic Planning, Councillor  Altany Craik, added: “The work undertaken to date ensures that once more, Fife is being promoted as a prime investment location within Scotland. This is consistent with the work we continue to do within our local communities to realise regeneration and investment in our communities. I welcome that Rosyth, Burntisland and other strategic sites within the proposed Green Freeport outer boundary including Longannet, support the bid for this important economic designation. The areas identified provide scope for inward investors to locate and for existing businesses to expand or to diversify.”

The outer boundary area identified to support the proposed Green Freeport sites provides within Fife, important links via the M90, A92 and Fife Circle rail network into Mid Fife. Highlighting this and aligning investment activity with the 2021 Mid Fife Economic Action Plan and Mid Fife Economic Prospectus will ensure that together, we maximise benefits from the prospective Forth Green Freeport designation.”

City of Edinburgh Council leader Cammy Day, said: “If a Green Freeport to Leith and a customs site at the airport are brought forward, we will continue to work to make sure North Edinburgh benefits from a whole East to West corridor of net zero economic growth. We want to see this deliver transformative change for local communities with a strategy that substantially drives forward our net zero ambitions while providing pathways into work and learning for disadvantaged young people from the area.”

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