Scottish Greens will have ‘nothing to do with’ new freeports

Scottish Greens finance spokesman Ross Greer described the move as 'greenwashing'.

Scottish Greens will have ‘nothing to do with’ new freeports STV News

The Scottish Greens will have “nothing to do with” the establishment of two new freeports in Scotland.

It comes after a deal was agreed between the UK and Scottish governments for the ‘green freeports’.

Ross Greer, the Greens’ finance spokesman, however described the move as “greenwashing” as he said there is “nothing genuinely green” about the hubs.

It marks a significant division between the SNP and their Green partners in government after a co-operation agreement was reached between the parties in August last year.

The hubs, which are special economic zones offering tax breaks and lower tariffs for businesses, were announced on Monday.

They form a part of Boris Johnson’s promise to ‘level up’ the UK, with the sites expected to be in operation by spring 2023.

The Scottish Government, meanwhile, has said that it will have an equal say on all bids for the freeports, and that the hubs will help to create “sustainable and satisfying” jobs in the country.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Greer warned that previous freeports have not delivered on the jobs promised.

“The Scottish Greens won’t have anything to do with the establishment of these so-called green freeports,” he said.

“To be clear, this is just greenwashing, there’s nothing genuinely green about them.

“What freeports are are a really effective way to give tax relief and to throw public money at multinational companies who are already doing their best to avoid tax.

“The last time the UK had freeports, which was only a couple of years ago, according to the UK Government, they only created a quarter of the jobs that were promised and that was at huge public expense.

“Most of what they did was just move jobs around the country from other areas into these freeports, so they actually created more regional inequality.

“And internationally, freeports are associated with crime, money-laundering, smuggling, low-wages.”

Greer added: “If reports this morning are accurate, these new so-called green freeports in Scotland won’t actually require companies within them to adhere to the fair work conditions, they’ll simply encourage it.

“And we know that multinational corporations, unless they’re required to adhere to fair work, certainly won’t actually deliver those kind of quality, well paid jobs that we would expect.”

Scotland’s finance secretary Kate Forbes has indicated that the agreement reached with the UK Government recognises the “distinct needs” of Scotland’s economy.

And she has insisted that all bidders for the freeports will be expected to adhere to fair work practices, including on payment of the Real Living Wage.

On Good Morning Scotland, Forbes dismissed suggestions that the freeports are ‘green in name only’.

“Well, obviously green freeports, or green-ports as we called them, are excluded from the co-operation agreement with the Greens,” she told the BBC.

“When it comes to the approach that we have taken, it is a very distinctive approach to the approach that’s being taken elsewhere.”

Forbes added: “If this was green in name only, then there might be a point here.”

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