Tuesday was the deadline for bidders to submit “notes of interest” to establish green ports in Scotland.
A number of groups including port owners and local authorities have submitted proposals to the Scottish Government. However, the process was thought to be only consultative, providing an “indication of the geography and sectors likely to benefit” rather than a formal application.
There is a lack of clarity over the establishment of so-called green ports not least because there is a standoff between the UK and Scottish Governments over what to call them.
There is also a lack of clarity on when the Scottish Government plans to announce which port project is likely to succeed or even how many there will be.
It is thought Whitehall officials may complicate plans further by soliciting direct bids from Scottish port authorities to become “freeports” instead, in line with the eight English freeports that were announced in the budget in March.
In a statement, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “We continue to urge UK Ministers to work with us to ensure proposals best meet the needs of business and communities in Scotland and to ensure there is not a race to the bottom on workers’ rights and the environment.”
The statement insisted that the Scottish Government “remains committed” to working in partnership with the UK Government to “ensure the benefits of green ports are equally felt by businesses across the UK”.
The spokesman added: “The notes of interest exercise is part of our stakeholder consultation on green ports. It is designed to provide an indication of the geography and sectors likely to benefit from this policy. The responses received demonstrate a clear appetite for green ports in Scotland. We thank everyone who has submitted a note of interest.”
Bids so far:
Partners based around the Cromarty Firth have joined forces to “explore the opportunity” for the area to become a free trade zone and have submitted a green port bid. Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF) includes the Cromarty Firth Port Authority and Global Energy Group, owner of Port of Nigg.
A spokeswoman for OCF said: “We can confirm we have submitted an expression of interest to the Scottish Government to become a green port, which we believe would create a sustainable 50-year pipeline of supply chain opportunities in the Highlands, primarily in the rapidly developing offshore renewable energy sector.”
Aberdeen Harbour and Peterhead Port
Partners envisage a city region freeport based around Aberdeen Harbour and the port of Peterhead, which includes Aberdeen International Airport.
A recent feasibility study has shown that up to 22,000 jobs could be created as a result of the freeport package of tax breaks, customs benefits and the creation of innovation hubs.
Aberdeen City Council Leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: “The prospect of establishing a freeport in the Aberdeen City Region offers a superb opportunity.
“Both Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Council are working with the port authorities, other stakeholders and the UK and Scottish Government to present our case which will bring thousands of new jobs, fresh inward investment and extensive trading opportunities.”
Port of Leith and Grangemouth
Forth Ports, owner of seven ports on the east coast of Scotland, has submitted a bid to establish the Firth of Forth Green Port encompassing industrial complexes and logistics centres along the north and south shores of the Firth of Forth and at Edinburgh Airport.
The centre of the bid is Port of Leith where the port owner has plans to create a £40 million renewable energy hub which was recently backed by a seven-figure investment from energy firm, BP. It also includes Grangemouth, home to Scotland’s petrochemical cluster. Forth Ports is currently evaluating sites in Fife, along the north shore of the Firth of Forth, from Longannet to Rosyth.
Port of Dundee
The Dundee bid will be led by Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP), with support from Dundee City Council and Port of Dundee owner Forth Ports.
MSIP chief executive Greig Coull said it would make the innovation campus more attractive as it seeks to attract major employers to the city.
The campus aims to attract firms specialising in sustainable transport and mobility in a bid to replace the 850 jobs lost with the closure of the Michelin tyre factory.
Forth Ports said it stood “shoulder to shoulder” with the MSIP bid.