GREEN FREEPORTS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR A SCOTTISH MARITIME STRATEGY
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT MUST ADDRESS OWNERSHIP AND OPERATION OF SCOTS PORTS
Launching a paper yesterday (Wednesday) at Rocksalt Café, 46 Constitution Street, Leith showing how the principal ports on the Forth and Clyde are owned by interests out with Scotland and where the operators busiest harbours are on the Thames and Mersey, Kenny MacAskill MP and ALBA Party Depute Leader highlighted that the ownership and operation of Scottish harbours and ports is the real issue not a political spat between the SNP and Greens over freeports. In a statement Mr MacAskill said:
“ Most folk living near the Forth or Clyde will be astounded to know who owns Scotland’s principal ports. Most have probably assumed that it was a public operation or local businessmen. It was of course the former prior to the Tories privatisation of the Ports in 1992.
“ Now though Forth are owned by from across the Atlantic through the Canadian Public Sector Investment Board and Clyde by Peel Ports PLC, based south of the border. How can the interests of Scotlands economy or the coastal communities on the Forth be best looked after by the trustees of a Canadian pension fund or the Clyde by a company with its major interest and assets sited elsewhere?”
Commenting on the fact that the largest port operated by Forth Ports PLC is Tilbury in the Port of London and for Peel Ports PLC it is the Port of Liverpool he added:
“It’s not just ownership that’s an issue but what other ports they operate. How can it be in the best interests of the Forth or Clyde to be run by companies whose biggest ports are on the Thames and Mersey? The strategic interests of the Scottish economy and Scottish communities are losing out to those in competitor estuaries. The challenges are also not restricted to the establishment of direct ferry services to Europe or an increase in cruise liner traffic but include shipyards and renewable energy construction sites where work is badly needed and jobs are at risk.”
Finally, he addressed comments towards the Scottish Government and action that they should take.
“Rather than having an unseemly spat between SNP and Greens on Freeports the Scottish Government should be addressing the ownership and operation of our principal ports. Ports and harbours are vital parts of our national infrastructure. The Scottish Government must reject the free market ethos they have copied from south of the border and take steps to protect Scotland’s national interest through the establishment of a government department and Public Ports Authorities for our key estuaries.”