Parliamentarians unite to add their support to the North East Scotland Green Freeport campaign

Parliamentarians have come together to support the North East Scotland Green Freeport bid, submitted today (Monday, 20 June)

Monday, June 20, 2022
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 today (June 20, 2022), 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 £8.5bn 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.

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 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.

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.

Jon Matthews, Group Head of Capital and Planning at Aberdeen International Airport, 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 over £1bn 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.”

Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative Shadow Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport and North East MSP, said: “I fully support the North East Scotland Green Freeport bid which would be transformational for our region. Securing freeport status in the North East would potentially create up to 32,000 jobs while generating billions of pounds for our economy and leading our transition to net zero.

“Aberdeen, from its expanded port to its airport and Peterhead, including its port and St Fergus, are ideally placed for a revolutionary freeport development. I regularly meet with the consortium and commend the group on their fantastic work in preparing such an excellent bid.”

Richard Thomson, SNP MP for Gordon, 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.”

David Duguid, Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, said: “I am delighted 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.”

Andrew Bowie, Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, said: “The North East Scotland Green Freeport bid underlines the great economic boost that awaits the North East if successful.

“We have heard the potential for tens of thousands of jobs to emanate from this exciting project, into every corner of the region. Partners including Aberdeen International Airport have done a power of work to present a compelling, mature prospectus.

“Now that there is the political will recognising the many opportunities presented by freeports, it's time for both Scotland's governments to press on with taking advantage.”

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

The following parliamentarians and councillors have added their support to the campaign:

Stephen Flynn, SNP MP for Aberdeen South, said: "Industry across the city, including Aberdeen Airport, is set to maximise the benefit from a successful Green Freeport bid and it is this potential that makes our city so well placed to win the bid."

Kevin Stewart, SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, said: “Our city must be first in line for investment if we are to become the net zero capital of Europe and Aberdeen Airport has a crucial role to play in that process - I hope the UK Government do the logical thing and back the bid.”

Maurice Golden, Conservative MSP for North East Scotland, said: “This bid is a great example of how the North East can play a crucial role in turbo-charging the economy. Freeport status wouldn’t just bring jobs, opportunities and innovation to the area. It would create growth from which the entire country would benefit.

“As we look to the future we need to find a way to protect jobs and skills in the north east in a way that is sustainable, practical and brings everyone along with it. By securing green freeport status, this bid could help keep the area at the forefront of energy innovation while contributing to wider efforts to reduce our carbon emissions.”

Gillian Martin, SNP MSP for Aberdeenshire East, said: “As we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, we have the opportunity to move forward with an ambitious economic transformation. A green freeport in the North East will help us to create a sustainable economy that promotes good jobs with fair wages and conditions, while also supporting our net zero commitments.

“I welcome support for a green freeport here in the North East which can help seize on the region’s economic potential and deliver greater, greener and fairer prosperity.”

Jackie Dunbar, SNP MSP for Aberdeen Donside, said: “I fully support the innovative and exciting bid from Aberdeen International Airport, Port of Aberdeen, Peterhead Port Authority and Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils, to bring a green freeport to North East Scotland, particularly as Aberdeen International Airport – a critical partner of the bid – is in my Aberdeen Donside constituency.

“This bid, if successful, will boost GVA by £8.5 billion over the next decade and it will usher in a new era of investment, innovation, regional regeneration and opportunities for those that need them most across North East Scotland. Estimates say that the bid could bring 32,000 highly skilled, highly paid jobs to the region – I want to help make this happen. The green freeport model could also put our bonnie region on the map as a world leader in creating carbon-free energy and the emerging technology needed to achieve net zero, as well as bring large-scale, advanced manufacturing to Aberdeen and it will maximise economic benefit for the region from Scotland’s rapidly-growing offshore wind and hydrogen sectors.

“I have submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament to raise awareness of the bid, of the benefits it could being to Aberdeen Donside, wider North East Scotland, and I will be writing to the Scottish and UK Government’s indicating my support for the bid and urging both Governments to accept North East Scotland as one of Scotland’s new green freeports.”

Audrey Nicol, SNP MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, said: “I welcome this green freeport bid, which will be of vital importance to my constituents in Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, and the wider North East. The bid has huge potential for investment and the creation of highly skilled jobs that have fair work principles at their heart. It will also support the North East’s ambition to become a global leader in green energy and support emerging technologies and innovation.

“Only last week I visited the Net Zero Technology Centre here in Aberdeen where pioneering innovators showcased their fantastic clean energy projects. The bid will also make a significant contribution to Scotland’s net zero ambitions and our long term low carbon future and energy security.”

Councillor Ian Yuill, Co-Leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “For 50 years, Aberdeen and the North East have been the centre of the UK's world-beating energy sector. The North East of Scotland Green Freeport would build on this. The City Council have worked with our partners and others to submit the strongest possible bid for a Green Freeport.

“If this bid succeeds, it will have a key role in securing business and jobs for the North East for years to come. This would build on investments already made by Aberdeen City Council, the Port of Aberdeen and the Scottish and UK Governments through the City Region Deal and Energy Transition Fund.

“Decades of enterprise, technology, research and innovation in offshore engineering and talent across the supply chain, equip Aberdeen and the North East with the foundation to deliver the vision of Aberdeen becoming the Net Zero Capital of Europe.”

Councillor Sandra Macdonald, representing the George Street/Harbour ward of Aberdeen City Council and Labour Group Leader, said: “North East Scotland has played a vital role in the energy sector over the last fifty years, with the focus of oil and gas production on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS).

“As a result, we are uniquely well placed to lead the energy transition on the UKCS. Our mainland ports have the best connections to current and future sources of offshore wind, marine renewable energy, hydrogen and carbon storage, and we have large and growing capacity for handling energy-related equipment, infrastructure and global trade in general.

“Britain’s energy transition must put energy workers as well as consumers at the heart of policy and that is why North East Scotland is the ideal location for one of Scotland’s green freeports and is positioned to lead the energy transition for the UK as a whole.”

Councillor Mark Findlater, Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, 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.”

Councillor Anne Stirling, Deputy Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, 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.”