Fife feels the squeeze

Councillor Jim Young
Councillor Jim Young

Fears have been raised about the long-term prospects and viability of Methil’s Energy Park.

They come after the Scottish Government announced port sites in Dundee and Edinburgh were each to be given ‘enterprise zone’ status.

This means both dock areas are considered vital to stimulate private investment, create jobs and improve the economy by focusing on the manufacturing, life sciences and low-carbon renewable energy industries – sectors that Methil was set up to host.

Incentives will be offered to attract industry to each, including a possible reduction in business rates.

Local MSP Claire Baker and Councillor Jim Young told the Mail they fear the commitment to the two projects will “suck opportunities away from Fife”.

Ms Baker said: “The evidence suggests that up to 80 per cent of the jobs created by enterprise zones are taken from elsewhere, so I’m concerned that opportunities will be sucked away from Fife at a time when we desperately need more jobs and investment.

“The decision to overlook Fife when designating enterprise zone status also calls into question the SNP Government’s commitment to Fife Energy Park at Methil docks.”

Area councillor, Jim Young, added: “Only last week we learned parts of my ward are among the most impoverished in Fife, with 40 per cent of families with young children living below the breadline.”

Cllr Young echoed the fear that the SNP Government’s enterprise zones would pull jobs and investment away from where they were needed most.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government told the Mail that its enterprise agencies would continue to work with businesses in other parts of the country, including offering research and development grants and Regional Selective Assistance.

“Business will also benefit from rates relief schemes which are much more generous than elsewhere in the UK,” added the spokesman.