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United political support for North East Scotland Green Freeport bid

By Kyle Ritchie

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Parliamentarians from across the political divide have united to throw their weight behind the North East Scotland Green Freeport bid.

As the consortium leading the ambitious plan submitted its vision to the UK and Scottish governments on Monday, MPs and MSPs pledged to campaign in the weeks ahead to ensure the region is first in line for the vital investment.

Final analysis of the economic benefit of the bid found that up to 32,000 highly-skilled jobs will be created and Gross Added Value (GVA) income will be boosted by £8.5 billion over the next 10 years if the region becomes one of two areas in Scotland to be granted transformational green freeport status.

The North East Scotland Green Freeport consortium – led by the Port of Aberdeen, Peterhead Port Authority, Aberdeen International Airport, and the region’s two local authorities ­– has vowed to use the designation to place the area at the heart of the global energy transition.

Parliamentarians have collectively supported the North East Scotland Green Freeport bid.
Parliamentarians have collectively supported the North East Scotland Green Freeport bid.

The status will lead to the north-east becoming the Net Zero Capital of Europe through the development of pioneering carbon-free technologies – a move which will also help regenerate and transform local communities and provide opportunities for those who need them most.

The bid will bring large-scale, advanced manufacturing to Aberdeen to maximise economic benefit from Scotland’s rapidly-growing offshore wind and hydrogen sectors and accelerate carbon capture projects on the Buchan coast.

The partners believe that the fusion of green freeport status with the north-east’s world-leading energy expertise will lead the UK’s decarbonisation drive and just transition to a net zero economy.

It will also create a regional customs hub for premium and globally recognised Scottish food and drink exports, building direct links to key markets for products such as Scotch whisky, seafood and meat produce.

As final preparations were being made to submit the bid to Westminster and Holyrood, local politicians gathered at Aberdeen International Airport to hear first hand how green freeport status could help support decarbonisation of the aviation industry.

Sustainable aviation fuel and the roll-out of drone technology are among the initiatives that could be pioneered locally if the bid succeeds.

Group head of capital and planning at Aberdeen International Airport Jon Matthews said: “We are delighted to have cross-party support and we are urging politicians of both parliaments to make the strongest case possible to the respective governments.

“The North East Scotland Green Freeport bid is a real opportunity to establish our region as the Net Zero Capital of Europe.

"It will deliver a sustainable economic future for the region with 32,000 fair-work long-term jobs. The strength of our bid lies not only in our net zero and global export ambitions, but in the strong collaboration we have here, built on world class foundations.

“In addition to our international airport – the most connected regional airport in the UK – and two major marine ports with combined goods exports of more than £1 billion in 2021, we have cross-party support from an array of stakeholders, private sector and academia.

"We can really harness the team-North East approach to deliver a prosperous new chapter in our industrial story, with far-reaching benefits.”

Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan David Duguid said: “I am delighted to back the consortium’s bid for a freeport in the North East.

“I have regularly met with Peterhead Port Authority who have worked over several years to ensure our town was part of this fantastic bid.

"A freeport would bring unprecedented benefits to Peterhead, which is why this is a truly exciting moment for our area.

“Peterhead has a great future and has a lot to offer, from our bustling port and fish market to the Acorn CCS and Hydrogen Project at St Fergus, and key energy infrastructure sites around the power station.

"The consortium deserves huge praise for preparing such an excellent bid for the North East.”

SNP MP for Gordon Richard Thomson said: “Having made the case through the passage of the legislation at Westminster for a green freeport model, I very much welcome this north-east bid which can help meet Scotland’s net zero ambitions, supports the local economy, and also upholds high standards of environmental protections and fair work practices.

"It is clear there is support from businesses for green freeports and I look forward to the North East bid progressing.”

Further information about how to back the bid can be found at www.northeastscotlandgreenfreeport.com

Leader of Aberdeenshire Council Councillor Mark Findlater said: “This is an exciting time, and it is a great opportunity for Peterhead and the North East of Scotland.

"I fully support the proposed North East Scotland Green Freeport. In Aberdeenshire, Green Freeport status would accelerate the development of Scotland’s only carbon capture cluster, Acorn at St Fergus, and contribute to the decarbonisation of Scotland and Europe.

“A successful bid has the potential to create thousands of high-quality jobs for our communities in this North East corner of Scotland.”

Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce is also drafting an open letter of support which businesses can sign to demonstrate support. Further information is available at www.agcc.co.uk

Deputy Leader of Aberdeenshire Council Councillor Anne Stirling said: “The North East Scotland Green Freeport bid presents a unique opportunity for this region.

"A Green Freeport will allow us to further leverage private sector investment to attract new manufacturing and subsea engineering companies, enable local and wider regeneration, and will deliver a globally recognised integrated energy cluster.

"We are delighted to support this bid, and with our renowned resilience, adaptability and track record in innovation are confident that Green Freeport status for the North East of Scotland will have impact not only locally, but globally.”

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