THE River Clyde has a long, proud and successful history as a key maritime industry hub. More recently, it also featured at the centre of global focus on the environment when our Scottish Events Campus hosted COP26 to make crucial decisions on climate issues and the future of the planet. It would be fitting then if the Clyde Green Freeport (CGF) bid is successful and continues to build on these legacies when a final decision is made in a few weeks’ time by Scottish and UK Governments.

The Clyde bid has arguably the most compelling case for Green Freeport status in Scotland and would generate the largest impact on the Scottish and wider UK economy. It’s a multimodal partnership, covering air, sea, road and rail, and will further unlock global trade, doubling capacity to take products from across Scotland to the rest of the UK, Europe and beyond.

Central to the bid is a bold decarbonisation plan which would accelerate the Scottish and UK Governments’ net zero ambitions. The CGF would achieve net zero by 2040 with plans including a roll-out of green fuel for air, rail, road and sea transport – with a new £1 billion hydrogen plant which could fuel 25 per cent of Scotland’s HGVs. Securing Green Freeport status will also be a major boost to thousands of innovative SMEs and supply chain businesses in the West of Scotland, and will attract significant new investment to Scotland’s business engine room.

Support has been forthcoming from many of our corporate and SME businesses and potential new investors. One such investor is Windship Technology, which has developed a zero-emission design for large bulkers and tankers, combining an electric drive and carbon capture system with the rigs of the vessels, solving the decarbonisation problem besetting the shipping industry. To get this technology implemented, Windship Technology needs land and dock facilities to allow the rigs to be manufactured and installed and the CGF proposal has created the ideal location to facilitate this.

If the bid is successful, Windship Technology may come to the Clyde area to expand its workforce and train employees, whilst remaining competitive within the global marketplace, assisted through some of the benefits available with Green Freeport status.    

The bid would additionally help transform some of the most economically-challenged areas in Scotland. Business leaders such as Claudio Veritiero, the CEO at Peel Ports Group, believes that regeneration through investment and job creation will deliver economic and social value. He recently said: “It’s arguable that our bid, more than any other, has the potential to lift huge swathes of population towards strong economic contribution and raising living standards. It’s estimated that the CGF will contribute an uplift of £18 billion by 2034 and create around 30,000 new jobs whilst developing global trading opportunities and taking the region’s world class innovation economy to new heights."

CGF also presents a fantastic opportunity to propel the Scottish aerospace sector towards a leading role in delivering the UK Government’s Jet Zero air travel decarbonisation strategy, with an increased share of the additional £39 billion and 150,000 jobs associated with it. The world’s first climate-neutral airport cluster would be created at Glasgow Airport and the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS) in Renfrewshire, through plans for a solar park, district heating network, electric vehicle fleet and a multi-fuel hub.

In terms of rail, the major rail freight hub and rail terminal at Mossend in North Lanarkshire would see the regeneration of 283 hectares of land through £17 million of investment unlocked by tax benefits and, in the longer term, £300 million to develop the site and create the infrastructure needed.

Given all of these factors, there is a compelling case for the CGF. Too many of our smaller businesses are still missing out on export opportunities and a successful CGF bid would go a long way to helping them and the wider Scottish economy, while delivering an extensive decarbonisation and innovation programme in line with government agenda.

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