Against the Establishment of Freeports in Scotland

Freeports have historically led to money laundering, tax avoidance, reduced workers’ rights and a loosening of health and safety regulations. There is nothing in the current plans that would prevent this happening in Scotland. The Scottish government initially rejected the UK’s Freeport plans and drew up its own Freeport plans renaming them ‘Greenports’, which put requirements on business seeking to take advantage of the Freeport regime.

The UK Government overruled the Scottish Government and now the Freeports are UK Freeports and the Scottish Government merely ‘hopes’ employers will meet their original requirements such as paying the real living wage or abiding by net zero targets.

Freeports will create two separate workforces in Scotland, one with the full protection of current employment and health and safety legislation and the workforce in the Freeport with far less legal protection and at the whim of the corporations which run the Freeports.

In addition, Freeports do not create additional jobs but rather suck jobs from the surrounding areas, leaving those areas at a disadvantage. The Freeports put increased demand on transport and other infrastructure.

Other Freeport issues include:

A border around the port which will increase paperwork and costs for those using the port.

Lack of guarantees on trade union recognition.

It is unclear how local authorities will gain and they may well lose out on payment of business rates.

Freeports are in effect tax havens. The government will get less income. For example, they will lose employers NICs in the Freeport area.

In the future Scotland will have to live with the detrimental consequences of ‘UK Freeports’ long after we are independent.

Whilst the UK Government uses the simple term Freeports the Scottish Government cynically decided to brand them, and to greenwash them, by calling them Green Freeports. There is no appreciable difference between Freeports and Green Freeports, and the resolution uses the term Green Freeports when opposing the Scottish Government’s use of them and Freeports when talking about them in a UK, Westminster context.

ALBA strongly opposes the creation of two Green Freeports in Scotland – Opportunity Cromarty Firth, and Firth of Forth Green Freeport – as a joint enterprise by the Scottish Government and the UK Government.

ALBA condemns the Scottish Government for the lack of a proper economic development plan for Scotland’s coastal and island economies. ALBA notes that Green Freeports are contrary to developing a proper industrial strategy for the coastal regions of Scotland.

We therefore call on the Scottish Government to cease the development of Green Freeports in Scotland and to reject the UK Government’s promotion and development of Freeports.