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The UK and Scottish governments have jointly announced that Inverness & Cromarty Firth and the Firth of Forth are the two locations for Scotland’s freeports.

What are freeports?

Freeports are national hubs that aim to encourage regional economic growth by promoting trade, investment, and jobs.  They do this by creating special areas where different economic regulations apply.  For example, at a freeport the government might reduce some taxes on imported goods.

A freeport is a large zoned area within a defined boundary that can include rail, sea, and air ports.  In total, the UK Government is creating at least twelve freeports, including eight in England and one in Wales.

Scotland’s Green Freeports

The UK and Scottish governments have worked together to develop a freeport model that builds on the unique opportunities in Scotland.  The model reflects joint values, protects high standards, and respects devolution.

The UK and Scottish governments jointly reviewed bids through an open, transparent, and competitive process to select the winners based on the bidding prospectus. This included how the proposed freeport would:

  • promote regeneration and high-quality job creation
  • promote de-carbonisation and a just transition to a net zero economy
  • establish hubs for global trade and investment
  • foster an innovative environment

The Inverness & Cromarty Firth and the Firth of Forth regions were successful in the freeport application process.

Each freeport will receive up to £26 million from the UK Government to get established.  Combined, the two freeports have estimated they could create 75,000 new, high-quality jobs, and bring in £10.8 billion of private and public investment.  They will drive growth and level up the surrounding areas whilst working towards net-zero.

Both freeports plan to become operational in late 2023.

The Forth Freeport

The Forth freeport has estimated it could attract up to £6 billion of investment, create 50,000 jobs, and generate £4.2 billion for the region’s economy in the first five years.  It will have a focus on renewable manufacturing, shipbuilding, alternative fuels, carbon capture utilisation and storage, and the development of a new creative hub.  The site includes the ports at Grangemouth, Rosyth, Burntisland, Leith, and Edinburgh Airport.

The Inverness and Cromarty Firth Freeport

The Inverness & Cromarty Firth freeport has estimated it could create 16,500 jobs and attract £3 billion in investment for the area.  It will focus on the renewable and low-carbon energy industries that will drive the transition to net zero.  The site includes the ports of Inverness, Cromarty Firth, Nigg, and Inverness Airport. The plans include an expansion of the Inverness Campus and Powerhouse, along with proposals to deliver innovation and skills support.

More information

Read the announcement of the two freeports for Scotland.