Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

UK Government freeports plan ‘underwhelming’ for Scotland

Aberdeen Harbour is one of the potential locations eyeing up freeport plans.

Plans by the UK Government to establish “one or two” ports with special tax status in Scotland have been branded “underwhelming” by a ports boss.

Richard Ballantyne, chief executive of the British Ports Association, said there are around 30 “cargo gateways” across Scotland, with “many” able to make the case for so-called freeport status.

It follows months of strained talks between the UK and Scottish governments over how to set up ports with the ability to defer tax until products are moved on.

The ports boss appeared before MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s economy and fair work committee, where he was quizzed about their potential locations.

Freeport locations

Mr Ballantyne said while freeports are “quite a good and attractive offer”, he was “somewhat underwhelmed” by the number being proposed.

A total of eight freeport locations have been selected across England, with the UK Government committed to establishing “at least one” each in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Interest has been shown from Aberdeen, Peterhead, Cromarty Firth, Dundee and Grangemouth.

Aerial view of Peterhead port.

Mr Ballantyne told MSPs: “In England we’ve got eight – we were somewhat underwhelmed with the aspiration there should only be eight.

“We didn’t see the need to cap the number of ports and that has to be said as our position in Scotland.

“The Scottish Ports Group, which includes all the main Scottish port operators and many others, has around 30 or so cargo gateways in Scotland – some of them quite modest of course – but you could probably make the case for many of those locations that they should be a freeport.

“The proposal and suggestion that there might be one or two freeports stemming from the UK Government’s freeports policy is somewhat underwhelming.

“We have to be careful of picking winners in a sector that is traditionally market-led and made its own decisions and based on competition.

“We are now seeing government intervention coming in by capping the number.

“We are pushing for a more inclusive policy.”

The first minister is facing calls to review a decision to drop out of UK-wide talks on freeports.

The SNP-Green administration at Holyrood has said it wants to pursues its own “green ports” plan, after talks collapsed with UK counterparts.

SNP Trade Minister Ivan McKee had been moving to an agreement in the summer, but could not get UK Government Scottish Secretary Alister Jack to adopt red-line requests.

The party’s new Green coalition partners previously described the freeports policy as “state sponsored tax dodging with no place in a progressive Scotland”.

On the situation facing both governments, Mr Ballantyne said there is a “bit of divergence”.

He added: “We’re not sure whether that will go ahead in parallel, in partnership with the UK Government, or whether there will be separate mechanisms as has been mooted lately.”

A Government spokesperson said: “Freeports will be hubs for trade, innovation and commerce, regenerating communities by attracting new businesses, investment and opportunity as we level up across the United Kingdom.

“We want to establish Freeports in Scotland as soon as possible, ensuring communities across the UK can feel the benefits of this programme.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

More from the Press and Journal UK politics team

More from the Press and Journal