A north-east MSP has hit out at the Scottish Government after ministers hinted they would turn down the chance to set up free ports in the region.
Peter Chapman called on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to consider introducing the zones – claiming jobs and investment would be created as a result.
Earlier this week, Holyrood trade minister Ivan McKee suggested the Scottish Government would turn down Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s offer of introducing free ports in Scotland.
Free ports are zones which, for the purposes of customs and trade, are considered independent jurisdictions.
The Evening Express understands Aberdeen and Peterhead have both expressed interest in obtaining the status.
And Mr Chapman urged ministers to listen to the north-east over the issue.
The Tory MSP said: “The SNP is happy to miss the boat with this and once again shows Nicola Sturgeon’s complete negligence towards the north-east – it’s scandalous.
“Ports across the north-east, including Aberdeen, have voiced strong support in wanting to be a part of this fantastic policy which will drive up investment in the region as well as create jobs.
“Aberdeen will flourish under this initiative yet the SNP’s disregard for our city and region has once again shown through.
“Peterhead is another area which is also ideal for a free port and has room for expansion yet the SNP simply don’t care about economic growth and jobs in the town.
“The north-east has the chance to be at the forefront of this initiative and I’m determined to see the area benefit from these proposals.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hit back at Mr Chapman, insisting there would be no need for free ports of the UK was still a member of the European Union.
In response in Parliament, she said: “I don’t think free ports are any substitute for being a full member of the single market.
“We will listen to and support anything that is in the best interests of Scotland.
“However, the Conservatives should take a long, hard look at themselves about Scotland’s trading position.”