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Sir Ian Wood's 'unwavering support' for north-east to win green freeport status

Leading Aberdeen entrepreneur Sir Ian Wood today pledged

Wednesday, June 29, 2022
Five areas want to become freeports under a scheme agreed by the Scottish and UK governments, but only two will be announced as winners this summer.

Final analysis of the economic benefit of the North East of Scotland Green Freeport bid found that up to 32,000 highly-skilled jobs will be created and Gross Added Value income will be boosted by £8.5billion over the next 10 years if the region is granted green freeport status.

A letter signed by Sir Ian on behalf of the board of Aberdeen's Energy Transition Zone says a north-east green freeport will be "crucial" to the UK and Scotland achieving net-zero carbon targets and argued the region is "uniquely positioned within the UK to take advantage of this opportunity".

It further highlights ambitions set out by both First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who backed a Scottish Government pledge to help reposition the region as the "net-zero capital of Europe", as well as Chancellor Rishi Sunak whose Government allocated £27million to match the funding made available by the Government to ensure the ETZ, which falls squarely in the area of a north-east green freeport, would be a "green energy hub".

Sir Ian is chairman of the ETZ.

The letter seen by the Press and Journal argues the North East of Scotland Green Freeport will make "both the Scottish and UK Government commitments a reality", adding that the tax and customs levers on offer "will be a crucial driver in achieving Scottish and UK net-zero targets at pace".

At the centre of discussions
It also says the ETZ board had been "at the centre of discussions" around the freeport bid and that it would provide "private sector representation on the governing board through implementation, delivery and operational phases".

The letter went on: "Our significant engagement with companies across the energy industry - from global energy companies and large service companies to small to medium-sized enterprises and start-ups - has underlined the significance of securing green freeport status as part of this process.

"These conversations and our first-hand knowledge given the companies we represent, have left us in no doubt that green freeport status for the north-east of Scotland would catalyse private sector investment from indigenous companies and existing overseas investors and help attract globally-mobile investment."

It further argues a freeport in Aberdeen and Peterhead would "cement the bridge" between oil and gas and the low carbon energies such as hydrogen.

"We are uniquely positioned within the UK to take advantage of this opportunity."

The freeports will mean the creation of two special economic zones offering tax incentives and lower tariffs for areas around airports, seaports and rail terminals.

Parliamentarians from across the political divide have united to throw their weight behind the north-east bid.

MPs and MSPs are campaigning in the weeks ahead to ensure the region is first in line for the vital investment.

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.

As well as the clear benefits in supporting the region's journey to becoming a globally-significant renewable energy hub, other sectors would benefit too from a freeport.

As one of the UK's premium food and drink producing areas, the creation of a regional customs hub will enable an increase in export activity for products such as whisky, craft beer, seafood, meat produce and ice-cream - building direct links to key markets across the world.

Chamber's letter of support
Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce is drafting an open letter of support for the local freeport bid which businesses can sign to demonstrate support. Just click here.

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