TheGovernment of the UKThey will weaken devolution if they create freeports in Scotland or Wales without reaching an agreement with the devolved governments, according Scottish and Welsh ministers.
Devolved governments stated that they are committed to working alongside the UK government. However, UK ministers signalled their intent to move forward without devolved permission and failed to give assurances that they would not legislate within devolved areas.
Ministers stated that they also need urgent clarification from the UK government regarding joint decision-making, funding allocations and funding. The UK ministers have not been willing to guarantee that funding for ports will be equaled in England.
TheScottish governmentIt stated that it had been working with the UK government in order to ensure that the UK’s freeport proposal was responsive to the needs of the UK. New Scottish green ports, based on UK government proposals would offer assistance to businesses that use fair work practices to help Scotland transition to a net zero emission economy.
The Welsh government has written again to the UK asking for an urgent discussion about how they can move forward with these plans, given that there has not been a formal offer for a freeport in Wales.
Minister for businessIvan McKeeHe stated: “The Scottish government is committed to working with the UK government. However, we cannot sign up for a UK policy that does not respect devolution, undermines Scotland’s economy, and fails to provide equal funding to ports in England.
“UK ministers have not worked with us to ensure that their proposals best suit the needs of businesses and communities in Scotland.” The Scottish government will not accept a proposal from the UK that doesn’t include fair work and net zero.
“To ensure that there is no race to the bottom in workers’ rights, and the environment, we will challenge any attempts of the UK government in Scotland to impose our model by legislating in the devolved areas. This would be a violation of the spirit the Devolution settlement. I urge the Secretary of State to Scotland and other UK ministers, to join us in ensuring that we can deliver green ports to Scotland.
Welsh finance ministerRebecca EvansHe said, “We have always tried to engage constructively avec the UK government and reach an agreement on a way to implement freeports in Wales that is consistent with our priorities.
“The UK government is pressing the Welsh government to divert its resources in order to achieve a UK policy priority. We find this unacceptable and have made it clear that the UK government must demonstrate the same financial commitment to Wales’ freeports as in England.
Minister for the economy of WalesVaughan GethingHe said, “As responsible governments, we must see that freeports show value for money. We must also be confident that the UK’s approach will not have any negative consequences.
“We recognize that a Welsh freeport without our support would be less attractive or less competitive than one in England. However, the UK government’s refusal to engage constructively suggests they would rather risk undermining Devolution by implementing a flawed Freeport without our support than to work with us to deliver Wales benefits.”