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 Scotland’s two new Green Freeports - an empowered opportunity
Marine economy

Scotland’s two new Green Freeports - an empowered opportunity



Read our report on Scotland’s Green Freeports

In January 2023, the long-awaited announcement was made that two new Green Freeports would be created on the Forth and in Inverness & Cromarty Firth.

The UK’s 12 freeports, including Scotland’s two Green Freeports, are intended to form central pillars of the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda.

To be successful, the Scottish bidders were asked to demonstrate:

  • Promotion of regeneration and high-quality jobs
  • Promotion of decarbonisation and just transition to net zero
  • Establishment of a hub for global trade and inward investment
  • Fostering of an innovative environment

A freeport or a free zone is not necessarily a new concept, having first been introduced in the UK in the 1980s but discontinued in 2012. Therefore, a big question will be how these new freeports will differ in shape and focus from their predecessors. Similarly, how will Scotland’s Green Freeports differ from their counterparts in England and Wales.

In autumn 2023 and to coincide with Harper Macleod’s third annual Marine Economy Week, over two roundtable events we brought together a range of stakeholders with an interest in the Green Freeports to focus on the opportunities for Scotland.

The stakeholder representatives who kindly provided their time and insight, covered a wide spectrum of interests, including local authorities, development agencies, business groups, infrastructure providers, skills development and other professional advisors, as well as representatives from each of the Green Freeports themselves.

The discussions were constructive and wide-ranging, spanning issues such as public and private sector collaboration, international investment, skills, local infrastructure provision and the transformative potential both zones can deliver for their respective communities.

What became immediately clear was the energy and desire for these two new zones to be successful, and to not just deliver on their strategic ambitions, but to create long-lasting and sustainable differences to their immediate communities and the whole of Scotland. It tells you something when the most used words at both events were “potential”, “opportunity” and “change”.

This report is not intended to be an analysis of the economics or politics around the two zones, but a reflection of what we heard when we spoke to those involved or with a keen interest.

To encourage an open and healthy discourse, we agreed not to quote or name any of our participants.


Glasgow Edinburgh Inverness Elgin Thurso Shetland
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