Major boost for Fife as SNP and Tories reach deal to extend green freeports until 2034

The UK and Scottish Governments have struck a deal to extend tax breaks for projects linked to Fife’s green freeport for another five years until 2034.

In a major boost for the region, it means businesses operating in Rosyth and Burntisland will be able to benefit from tax relief for a full decade.

UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the plans last week in his Spring Budget after first proposing the extension last November.

The initiative, which aims to boost business investment with lower taxes and light-touch regulation, is a joint project in Scotland between Holyrood and Westminster.

It’s been estimated up to 7,000 jobs could be created in Fife.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt. Image: Shutterstock.

Forth Ports was one of two winning bids last year alongside the Inverness and Cromarty Firth consortium in the Highlands.

Both freeports will be covered by the new extension.

It’s hoped the two special economic zones could help create 75,000 jobs in total.

A spokesperson for the Forth freeport said: “Investment decisions made by companies wishing to locate within a green freeport are, by their nature, long term ones, especially among our target sectors which include offshore wind and alternative fuels.

“We therefore welcome any decision by the Scottish and UK Governments which results in the tax relief window being extended until 2034.”

Two investment zones which offer similar tax breaks – located in Glasgow and Aberdeen – will also benefit from the announcement.

SNP finance chief Shona Robison. Image: PA.

SNP finance chief Shona Robison, a Dundee MSP, said: “I am pleased that Scottish and UK ministers have reached agreement on extending the tax reliefs window for green freeports.

“We strongly support firm joint action to ensure that the green freeports and prospective investment zones all live up to a clear set of policy commitments, particularly in relation to our just transition to net zero.”

The successful Forth Ports bid outlined plans to create new manufacturing and shipbuilding jobs in Rosyth.

The blueprint also included plans for offshore wind and carbon energy generation facilities, to ensure environmental promises are met.

SNP finance chief Shona Robison said: “I am pleased that Scottish and UK ministers have reached agreement on extending the tax reliefs window for green freeports.

“We strongly support firm joint action to ensure that the green freeports and prospective investment zones all live up to a clear set of policy commitments, particularly in relation to our just transition to net zero.

But not everyone is in favour of the low-tax economic zones.

The Scottish Greens – who share power with the SNP – are firmly opposed to freeports despite those in favour claiming they can help the environment.

North East MSP Maggie Chapman said: “Freeports are a failed Thatcherite gimmick.

“They are effectively onshore tax havens that are used by corporations and big business to avoid paying their fair share.

“They may be called green freeports, but there is nothing green about them.”

‘Major vote of confidence’

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The chancellor confirmed at the Spring Budget that freeport tax relief will be extended by five years to help maximise new investment.

“It’s a major vote of confidence in the programme and shows what can be achieved when Scotland’s two governments work together.

“Up to £52 million is being invested by the UK Government to create the new Freeports at Inverness and Cromarty Firth and Firth of Forth, bringing regeneration, attracting up to an estimated £10 billion in investment and creating around 75,000 new, high-skilled jobs.”

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