Green Freeport bid to turn North East Scotland into “net-zero capital of Europe”

A regional alliance, including Peterhead Port Authority, Port of Aberdeen, Aberdeen International Airport and Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils, has launched its formal bid for Green Freeport status.

Illustration. Courtesy of Peterhead Port Authority

It is estimated that the status will boost GVA by £7.5 billion (around $9.4 billion) over the next decade and usher in a new era of investment, innovation, regional regeneration and opportunities.

The announcement follows a recent visit to Aberdeen by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during which she highlighted the Scottish Government’s commitment to repositioning 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.

According to the alliance, the Green Freeport status will make the region’s commitments a reality by bringing large-scale manufacturing to Aberdeen.

This, in turn, would maximise economic benefit from Scotland’s offshore wind and hydrogen sectors and accelerate carbon capture projects on the Buchan coast.

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The partners believe that the fusion of Green Freeport status with the North East’s energy expertise will lead the UK’s decarbonisation drive and just transition to a net-zero economy.

Regional business leaders also joined the representative of the collaborative consortium at the new Aberdeen South Harbour, which will play a key role in unlocking the offshore wind opportunity, to issue a direct call to both the Scottish and UK governments to back the region’s bid.

North East Scotland Green Freeport

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 the expansion of existing businesses to invest, innovate and develop the skills needed to deliver new projects.

The alliance said that the proposals will secure vital trade and support the acceleration of innovation, diversification and decarbonisation of the region’s key sectors. Some of them include:

  • amplifying the value of the green freeport investment to level up deprived communities and enable and accelerate a just transition;
  • delivering an integrated energy cluster focused on the delivery of net zero contributing to national energy and economic security;
  • leveraging private sector investment to attract new manufacturing and subsea engineering companies to enhance 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; and
  • 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.

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