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Devolved authorities urged not to miss out on freeport benefits

Port of Cromarty Firth
Port of Cromarty Firth

Harbours in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could be disadvantaged, compared to English peers, unless devolved administrations move quickly to develop policies for potential new freeports, it was claimed last night.

The warning from British Ports Association (BPA) chief executive Richard Ballantyne came ahead of today’s publication of the freeports bidding prospectus for England by HM Treasury.

Mr Ballantyne said there were growing concerns among BPA members that “dealignment and delays” to policy in other parts of the UK may be disruptive to the market, which relied on a level-playing field for free and fair competition.

There are also further discussions to be had to make sure freeport zones are “geographically big enough and sufficiently flexible to enable regional growth ambitions”, he added.

Aberdeen has previously been mooted as a potential location for one of 10 freeports the UK Government aims to create around the UK.

Freeport status would allow goods coming in and leaving to be subject to different tax and custom rules.

Meanwhile, bosses at Port of Cromarty Firth are celebrating a double win at the Maritime UK Awards.

PCF left the event, streamed live from Plymouth, with the business of the year and coastal powerhouse gongs.

Chief executive Bob Buskie said it showed the north port was “a force to be reckoned with in the UK maritime sector”.

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