A Thames Freeport involving East London will be created generating thousands of new jobs and generating millions of pounds of investment.
In today’s Budget Statement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that freeports will be located at East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, the Humber region, the Liverpool City Region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside.
A bidding consortium involving Ford Dagenham in East London and the owners of Tilbury and London Gateway ports in Thurrock joined forces with Thames Enterprise Park to submit a freeport application to Government. Today’s announcement is a shot-in-the-arm for the region as it recovers from the pandemic.
Freeports are zones where normal tax and customs rules are changed to encourage economic activity. Freeport status also offers wider benefits for businesses such as planning reforms, funding for infrastructure improvements and innovation incentives.
Ford is expected to use the benefits of freeport status to explore new business opportunities including further electric vehicle production,
Welcoming the announcement, Cllr Darren Rodwell, Chairman of Local London and Leader of Barking & Dagenham Council, said: “As diesel engine production ends in 2030, the decision to give the Thames Freeport the go ahead will help secure jobs using greener more sustainable technology on the Dagenham Ford site.
“This complements our own efforts to create more new jobs alongside a new film studio and the three markets of London, as London continues to grow eastwards.”
Local London sits on the Thames Estuary Growth Board, which has campaigned for freeport status.
Kate Willard OBE, the Thames Estuary Envoy, and Chair of Thames Estuary Growth Board, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been selected as a freeport location. We believe that the Thames Estuary is the right place to have freeport status, and are so pleased that the Government thinks so too.
“Getting a freeport is an essential part of the Estuary’s recovery and will help it to level-up at this crucial moment in time, post-Brexit and post-Covid. The Thames freeport will unlock £400 million of port investment in deprived areas and create more than 25,000 quality jobs, with significant investment in upskilling opportunities.
“The Thames Freeport that DP World, Forth Ports, Ford Dagenham and Thames Enterprise Park will deliver will be a pioneering, world-class freeport, and a magnet for inward investment.”
The Thames Freeport will have wide-ranging benefits for local communities with new jobs, up-skilling opportunities and investment in infrastructure. They include:
- £5.1 billion additional GVA
- Over £4.5 billion in new public and private investment
- 25,000+ new jobs with many more across supply chains, with significant investment in training and skills
- 1,700 acres of development land – much with planning consent
- £400 million port investment into some of the most deprived areas
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