Scottish and UK governments urged to support Green Freeport

Both Scottish and UK governments have been urged to support the North East of Scotland Green Freeport, which will transform the region into the ‘Net Zero Capital of Europe’.

Scottish and UK governments urged to support Green Freeport

Credit: Aberdeen International Airport (ABZ)

Up to 30,000 high-quality jobs will be created in the North East of Scotland under ground-breaking plans to transform the region into the ‘Net Zero Capital of Europe’.

A major regional alliance on 10 June 2022 announced its formal bid for Green Freeport status, which will boost GVA by £7.5 billion over the next decade and usher in a new era of investment, innovation, regional regeneration and opportunities for those that need them most.

The region is focused on becoming the global epicentre of the energy transition to lead the world in creating carbon-free energy and the technology needed to achieve Net Zero.

The announcement follows a recent visit to Aberdeen by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during which she highlighted the Scottish government’s commitment to reposition the region as the ‘Net Zero Capital of Europe’ and Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s pledge to boost Scotland’s transformation as a ‘green energy hub’ and deliver the UK government’s commitments on Net Zero.

North East Scotland Green Freeport will make these commitments a reality. It will bring large-scale, advanced manufacturing to Aberdeen to maximise economic benefit from Scotland’s rapidly-growing offshore wind and hydrogen sectors and accelerate pioneering 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.

Senior representatives of the collaborative consortium were joined today by North East business leaders at the new Aberdeen South Harbour, which will play a key role in unlocking the massive offshore wind opportunity, to issue a direct call to both the Scottish government and UK government to back the region’s bid.

North East Scotland Green Freeport will comprise a special economic zone within which a number of levers and tax incentives will be available to attract new inward investment and support expansion of existing businesses to invest, innovate and develop the skills needed to deliver a wide range of pioneering new projects.

The ambitious proposals will secure vital trade and support the acceleration of innovation, diversification and decarbonisation of the region’s key sectors:

  • Stimulating local and wider regeneration, amplifying the value of the Green Freeport investment to level up deprived communities and enable and accelerate a just transition
  • Deliver a globally recognised integrated energy cluster focussed on the delivery of Net Zero contributing significantly to national energy and economic security
  • Leverage private sector investment to attract new manufacturing and subsea engineering companies which will maximise the significant opportunities for the regional and Scottish supply chain provided by ScotWind and INTOG licensing
  • Accelerating the delivery of Acorn, Scotland’s only carbon capture cluster, and establishing Europe’s largest direct air capture facility on the Buchan coast
  • Accelerating the impacts of a new Green Hydrogen Production and Distribution Hub to produce the renewable gas for regional and national markets, and ultimately export
  • Capitalising on the brand new £400 million Aberdeen South Harbour expansion which provides 24 hour non tidal access and deep-water facilities on the East Coast
  • Harness the region’s existing expertise in freight logistics across global supply chains and become a UK test-bed for the development of innovative solutions for future trade systems, including the use of drone technology across ports and customs infrastructure
  • Stimulating investment in innovation and automation to transform our crucial seafood sector, supporting to increase world class food and drink exports to the world.

Bob Sanguinetti, Chief Executive of Port of Aberdeen said: “In this climate emergency, the UK needs a region with a proven track record of delivering innovative energy solutions and economic opportunities at pace. The fusion of Green Freeport status with a region internationally renowned for its resilience, adaptability and pioneering entrepreneurial spirit would deliver a prosperous new chapter in our industrial story. One which, quite literally, could help change the world.

“So, let’s back North East Scotland Green Freeport. Let’s accelerate Scotland and the UK’s journey to Net Zero. Let’s anchor the world’s leading energy companies and talent right here for another 50 years.”

Jon Matthews, Group Head of Capital and Planning at Aberdeen International Airport (ABZ) commented: “Aberdeen International Airport is delighted to be a key partner for North East Scotland Green Freeport bid. Achieving green freeport status will significantly help to transform the region, specifically in delivering new world class renewable energy opportunities and help the country move towards Net Zero.

“There are exciting opportunities to help decarbonise the aviation industry through sustainable aviation fuel if a Green Freeport status was secured. This is very much aligned with our own ambitious Net Zero plans for the airport, which critically require the green freeport fiscal and operational levers to deliver.”

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