Freeports, Green or otherwise, bad?

From the Scottish Government today:

Opportunity Cromarty Firth and Firth of Forth Green Freeport have been selected jointly by the Scottish Government and UK Government as the locations for Scotland’s first Green Freeports.

Green Freeports are designed to boost innovation and inclusive growth within communities, while supporting Fair Work First practices, creating new green jobs, upholding the highest environmental protections and supporting economic transformation.

Working in partnership with the UK Government, we have adapted the UK Government’s freeport model to develop a sustainable and fair Green Freeport model that fits the Scottish context. 

https://www.gov.scot/policies/cities-regions/green-ports/

Hmmm….the Greens disagree.

I’m going to have to break ranks on this too.

The evidence is clear:

There is clear evidence in a House of Commons Briefing Paper that freeports simply transfer business away from other areas and, according to the Royal United Services Institute, ‘encourage drug trafficking, trade in counterfeits, money laundering and a vast array of other crimes.

Middlesbrough in Tees Valley already has the second highest crime rate in England (110 per 100K) just above that of neighbouring Cleveland (115 per 100K). The crime rate in Glasgow, Scotland’s highest, is 68 per 100K.

Backup evidence:

  1. Full report: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8823/
  2. Additional evidence from Institute for Government on economic factors: There is also a risk that freeports and zones don’t create new economic activity but rather divert existing business into the area with the allure of tax breaks – at a cost to the taxpayer in the form of lost revenue. https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/trade-freeports-free-zones
  3. Additional evidence from Royal United Services Institute: The misuse of freeports in other countries for drug trafficking, trade in counterfeits, money laundering and a vast array of other crimes has drawn the attention of key international stakeholders, including the Financial Action Task Force, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Customs Organization. The European Parliament has gone so far as to call for the abolition of freeports in the EU. https://rusi.org/publication/briefing-papers/free-ports-not-safe-havens-preventing-crime-uks-future-freeports

I’d love to be proved wrong in the years to come.

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11 thoughts on “Freeports, Green or otherwise, bad?

    1. For appearance. It says it will “develop a sustainable and fair Green Freeport model that fits the Scottish context” and if you believe in fairies it might. In reality it will very likely reproduce the horrors set out in the reports you cite. But that will be a couple of years later and the sg will blame Westminster, perhaps with justification.
      Besides it was going to happen and Westminster would blame the Scottish government anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I agree with the Greens on Freeports, even if they are being euphemised by the addition of the adjective ‘green’.

    I think this is one of these situations where the Scottish Government has no real say in the matter. The financing from this is entirely Westminster and the UK government and the BBC and the media lackeys, Tories, Labour and LibDems would have a field day if the SG had opposed and would have been orgasmic if the UK Government had then imposed them on Scotland.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s what I’ve been thinking too. Without the safety net of EU involvement and scrutiny Scotland is now very vulnerable to Westminster controlling finance and decisions, all reported to give a positive union spin

      Does anyone know whether a FoI request would get a breakdown of expenditure in the Scottish Office? I’d really like to know who AJ and co are talking to, what pressure or bribes are they offering businesses and companies to fall in line with unionist thinking and generally what they are doing to justify their ever rising budget

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I concur that here is little to no evidence of freeports doing much for local economies, if anything it tends to be entirely negative once construction is completed.

    I’d guess with “Freeports” being the latest Tory unicorn, SG were left with the choice of participating with SOME control or having it foisted upon them with yet a further strand of propaganda to exploit by HMS James Cook et al..

    Cromarty could do with big investments anyway, when the unicorn inevitably fails to fly, the subsequent sell-off in cheap facilities can be readily re-purposed…

    Never interrupt the enemy etc..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. More Westminster poor, bad policies forced upon Scotland.

    Vote against it. Vote for Independence parties every election. To get rid of the opposition. A higher turnout, every election. Will get rid of the opposition and bring Independence closer. .

    Like

  4. The level of beneficial economic OUTCOMES and net additional IMPACT of former ‘enterprise zones’ in the UK and now ‘free ports’ remain highly problematic.

    But it is politically difficult for a (pragmatic) devolved government within the UK simply to refuse a financial INPUT from a Westminster government initiative which in any event the latter might impose anyway. And any devolved government’s OPPOSITION to receiving such a financial INPUT would be exploited to the full in order to denigrate that devolved government. Much of the Scottish media would have a field day.

    So what to do? Accept the INPUT but do as much as possible to ensure the free port initiative is as good – or as harmless – as it can be by getting commitments to advancing net zero and commitments to fair employment conditions etc. It is the negotiation to ensure best possible conditions for Scotland associated with this Westminster initiative that has resulted in the Scottish free ports being announced long after the ones in England.

    But is it is not just a little ironic that a Unionist government opposed to BORDERS within the UK is content to see the establishment of new ‘BORDERS’ established in various locations across the UK – borders for tax and other regulation around its freeports!

    Liked by 1 person

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