Two Additional Free Ports for UK
Two sites in Scotland have become the latest areas of the UK selected to host a freeport.
Scottish ministers say the sites in Cromarty Firth and the Forth should become operational later this year. Eight freeports have been set up in England, with another planned in Wales.
Freeports aim to create economic activity – like trade, investment and jobs – near shipping ports or airports.
Teesside became the first to enter operation, in November 2021.The Thames freeport in Essex opened the following month. Sites near Liverpool, Plymouth and Hull have also been set up, as have shared freeports for Felixstowe and Harwich and Southampton and Portsmouth.
The only freeport in England near an airport is by East Midlands Airport in Leicestershire. The locations were announced at the March 2021 Budget by Rishi Sunak, when he was chancellor, from 18 areas that applied.
In Scotland, Cromarty Firth and the Forth were chosen from five areas that applied for freeport status. The SNP-led Scottish government has called the sites “green” freeports, because bids had to include plans for lowering carbon emissions.
However, the SNP’s government partners, the Scottish Greens, say there are “no hard requirements” to meet the climate targets. It says that, internationally, freeports are linked to “crime, money laundering, smuggling, and low wages”.
The tax and customs benefits available to companies, however, mirror those in place elsewhere in the UK.