Government fails to support ambitious bid for Clyde Green Freeport in Glasgow City Region

Partners responsible for the Glasgow City Region Clyde Green Freeport bid were disappointed by today’s announcement that Glasgow City Region was not selected by government to host one of two new Green Freeports in Scotland.

The two new Green Freeports chosen by UK and Scottish Government ministers are Inverness and Cromarty and Firth of Forth.

The Leader of North Lanarkshire Council, Councillor Jim Logue, said:

“The news is an extremely significant blow to Glasgow and the wider Regional economy, and in particular to the most deprived communities in Scotland who stood to benefit from proposals for a Clyde Green Freeport.

“Our bid was by far the strongest, not just in terms of the 30,000 new jobs to be created here and the bold decarbonisation plan that would support national net zero targets, but also in terms of the impact on local businesses and on the Regional and wider Scottish and UK economy. We are extremely disappointed.

“Our disappointment is compounded by the fact that one of the successful bidders did not have the full support from its council required by the bid process and was granted a further six months after the deadline to seek that support. In contrast to previous calls for bids for Free Ports, which gave sufficient time for consideration, we had just three months to research and put together an outstanding bid.

“In the end, it is the people of the Glasgow City Region who lose most from this decision.”

The Glasgow City Region bid set out plans to create tens of thousands of new jobs in areas with high levels of deprivation, with almost 40% of Scotland’s most deprived communities based within the Clyde Green Freeport area. The proposals would attract £2.5 billion of capital investment, transform nearly 600 hectares of vacant and derelict land in key locations and provide an £18 billion uplift in GVA.

The formal bid was submitted in June to the Scottish and UK Governments by a partnership of Glasgow Airport, Peel Ports’ Clydeport, Mossend International Railfreight Park in North Lanarkshire and Glasgow City Region councils.

At the heart of the Glasgow bid is a bold decarbonisation plan which would accelerate the Scottish and UK Governments’ net zero ambitions. The Clyde Green Freeport would achieve net zero by 2040 and would include a new district heating system; waste to energy projects; renewable energy generation and projects to roll out green fuel for air, rail, road and sea transport within industries which have been dominated by carbon – including a new £1 billion hydrogen plant which could fuel 25% of Scotland’s HGVs.

Councillor Jim Logue continued:

“As one of the UK’s largest Regions and the powerhouse of the Scottish economy, in today’s economic climate now more than ever, our 1.8 million residents and 50,000 businesses need an economic boost.”

“We would ask Ministers to review our bid, and to consider granting a further Green Freeport in Scotland on the Clyde to ensure the benefits to Glasgow City Region are not lost and that investment, jobs and opportunity don’t go elsewhere.

England is host to eight Freeports. It is not known whether the UK and Scottish Governments intend to open a new bidding round for further Green Freeports in Scotland.

The Clyde bid attracted support from many key businesses and organisations based or operating within the Region including Caterpillar, Malcolm Group, SP Energy Networks, the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde, Morrison Construction and Loganair.

Stuart Patrick, Chief Executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said:

“We are incredibly disappointed with today’s announcement on the Green Freeport bid.

“The Clyde Green Freeport set out ambitious plans, contributing significantly to creating high quality job opportunities, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and regenerating the areas which need it most. With a focus on private and public-sector investment in research and development, the bid was designed to bring together innovators to collaborate, develop and trial new ideas and technologies.

“The loss of the bid marks a significant blow for Glasgow. However, it is critical that we apply further pressure on other projects where key investment can bring job creation and reinvent entire industries across Glasgow and the West.”