Colin Smyth
Colin Smyth

South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy & Transport & Rural Affairs Colin Smyth has said Cairnryan must be given serious consideration in the decision to establish two green freeports in Scotland.

The special economic zones, offering tax breaks and lower business tariffs, are being promoted by the UK government as part of its “levelling-up” agenda.

A bidding process will begin in the spring and it is hoped the new sites will open in 2023.

Last year, the Scottish Government said UK ministers risked undermining devolution if they set up the freeports in Scotland or Wales without the backing of devolved governments.

Ministers in Edinburgh later said they would pursue an alternative model called “green ports”, but under the new deal they will be known as “green freeports”.

Colin Smyth said: “This agreement was delayed for months because the two governments disagreed over the name.

“As a result of their petty point-scoring, regions in England already have a head start.

“There are still real concerns over the practical implications of how a Green Port will work in practice. It’s vital that we ensure that workers’ rights are protected within the zones, creating high quality jobs and not undercutting others.

“The Scottish and UK Governments must put their differences aside if we are to achieve our net zero ambitions – we need to forget the arguments of the past and work together to build a greener and fairer future for everyone.

“I am also pushing for Cairnryan to be given serious consideration for one of the sites, providing the final plans include guarantees on the payment of the Living Wage and proper trade union recognition. The council has already given the plan its blessing and the Scottish Government must take the bid seriously if it is interested in supporting the economy in every part of Scotland.

“However, this must go hand in hand with plans to upgrade the A75 and the A77. Irrespective of whether Cairnryan became a Green Port, both governments need to wake up to the fact that these routes are not just vital to the ferry firms and the local economy, but are a strategic priority for the whole of Scotland.

“People have had enough, they are sick of being fobbed off and want to see their Governments to work together to produce some results and get these roads fixed. It’s now time for action.”

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