Thames Freeport, a Forth Ports joint venture, today said that it is open for business, just hours after the UK Government announced that it would be one of eight new freeports in England.
It is a digitally linked economic zone connecting Ford’s Dagenham engine plant, the global ports at London Gateway and Tilbury, and many local communities.
The Chancellor yesterday announced Thames as one of eight regional freeports in the Spring Budget, following a bidding process that began earlier this year.
He confirmed that the freeports will be located at East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, the Humber region, the Liverpool City region, Plymouth, Solent, and Teesside as well as the Thames.
An announcement is expected soon on the location of a Scottish freeport.
In January, the Scottish Government produced proposals for its model of ‘green ports’ focused on inclusive growth, fair work practices and delivering a net zero economy.
The Thames Freeport’s pitch to businesses is that relocating offers tax advantages which makes it easier and cheaper to move goods in and out of the country.
It said that the other benefits would include:
£5.1bn in additional gross value added or economic output.
More than £4.5bn 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 of it with planning consent.
£400m port investment into some of the most deprived areas.
Thames Freeport is a joint venture with DP World, which began as the operator of the free trade zone in Jebel Ali in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
In addition, Tilbury – now owned and operated by Edinburgh-headquartered Forth Ports – used to be a freeport.
Forth Ports’ chief operating officer Stuart Wallace said: “This is fantastic news and we are ready to hit the ground running.
“The freeport builds upon the successful completion of our new port, Tilbury2 and provides the platform for further expansion.
“The freeport policy’s special economic measures will turbocharge the best of the private sector, attracting value add manufacturing activity to the ports, the Thames Estuary and the wider South East, alongside supporting key infrastructure projects in the coming years.
“The Thames Freeport will be that catalyst to level up the left behind communities along the estuary.”
Dr Graham Hoare, chairman and executive director for business transformation at Ford of Britain, said: “The Thames Freeport will be a new centre of excellence for the country as we electrify, automate and digitise our future.
“The freeport provides Ford with a great opportunity as a test bed for a variety of customer-focused mobility technologies and other business opportunities at Ford Dagenham in the future.”
Alan Shaoul, chief financial officer at DP World in the UK, which owns the port and logistics park London Gateway, said: “We are open for business and would urge anyone looking to expand to get in touch to find out more about the benefits of locating at Thames Freeport.
“Our London Gateway site alone has almost 10 million square feet of land that has planning consent, and the capacity to expand materially its operational area and therefore attract new foreign direct investment within the lifetime of this parliament.”
The Thames Freeport said it plans to work with the Port of London Authority, Thurrock Council, Barking and Dagenham Council, the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, the Thames Estuary Growth Board and other key stakeholders.
It will continue to develop key Thames Freeport programmes, including the proposed hydrogen fuel production, storage and fuelling project.
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