Forth Ports will submit a green port bid – which will take in part of Fife – to the Scottish Government.
The proposals would encompass key ports, industrial complexes and logistics centres along the north and south shores of the Firth of Forth, including Grangemouth and Port of Leith.
Forth Ports is currently evaluating sites in Fife, along the north shore of the Firth of Forth, from Longannet to Rosyth. Fife Council is supporting the bid.
Grangemouth is home to Scotland’s freight hub and a petrochemical cluster while Forth Ports plans to create a £40 million renewable energy hub at Leith.
Edinburgh Airport is expected to be included due to its international connectivity benefits.
Forth Ports is also backing a green port bid for Dundee which is being led by Dundee City Council and Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc.
Firth of Forth ‘critical engine’ for economic recovery
Forth Ports chief executive Charles Hammond said: “Our interest in creating a Firth of Forth green port is underpinned by our belief in the government policy behind it to create economic zones for investment and regeneration.
“We are committed to supporting the development of this green port policy.
“The Firth of Forth, spanning from Central Scotland to the country’s east coast, is the critical engine for Scotland’s economic recovery.
“The creation of the Firth of Forth green port will encourage greater inclusive growth, fair work practices and help deliver Scotland’s net zero economy.”
What are green ports?
Green ports are the Scottish Government’s spin on freeports, designated zones with lower tax levies and less regulations designed to fuel economic growth in disadvantaged areas.
They will offer “streamlined planning processes” and a package of “customs reliefs”, with a specific focus on net zero and energy transition.
In his March budget, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the locations of eight new freeports in England, including the Thames and Teesside, which was subsequently announced as the base for GE Renewable Energy’s new blade manufacturing plant.
Mr Hammond added: “We are starting to see investment and regeneration benefits since the Thames Freeport announcement earlier this year.
“We believe it is as important that Scotland’s main industrial and business area sees similar benefits in a similar timescale.
“This would support the transition to net zero and at the same time, create good quality green industrial employment.”
Local MP hopes for ‘new economic stimulus’
Fife MP Douglas Chapman welcomed the bid and said it could create a “new economic stimulus” for west Fife.
He added it could make the Firth of Forth the ‘go-to place’ for new businesses.
Mr Chapman said: “We have known for some time that the West Fife coast is packed with potential from Longannet through to Inverkeithing.
“This opportunity should be looked on positively as a platform to deliver jobs and prosperity.
“As an member of the All Party Group on free ports for the past few years, I’ve been watching closely as the UK Government developed plans for eight freeports in England.
“The green ports strategy championed by the Scottish Government takes some of the key elements of a Freeport and adds in vital protections for fair work, apprenticeships and sustainable economic growth.
“While the Scottish Government has still to finalise its prospectus for green ports, Forth Ports have given the initiative a huge vote of confidence through this announcement.
“I look forward to seeing more of the detailed plans as they unfold.”
‘Support investment and jobs’
Fife Council’s head of business and employability services Gordon Mole said: “Fife Council welcomes the confirmation from Forth Ports to submit a proposal for a Green Port for the Firth of Forth.
“This proposal would support investment and jobs in the maritime and green economies, building on the strengths of Fife as a centre for industrial innovation and established manufacturing.
“Fife Council will work with Scottish Government, Forth Ports and regional and national partners in support of this proposal and its ambition to expand opportunities for global trade.”