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Thames Freeport is open for business!

17th September 2021

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, officially opened the Thames Freeport this week, marking an exciting new chapter for British trade and, as a Thames Freeport partner, we were delighted to join him at the event.

The financial freedoms for freeport zones, and the Thames Freeport’s unique location and shovel-ready brownfield sites make it exceptionally attractive to businesses and support the region’s long-term growth and levelling up.

The Thames Freeport will boost the local and national economy significantly, creating 25,000 quality jobs, skills opportunities, unlocking green initiatives and attracting investment.

Before joining the launch, my very brilliant Deputy Chair and Thames Estuary Growth Board Joint Lead for Freeports, Perry Glading, spoke to the BBC’s vibrant Jason Rosam about what the Freeport means for businesses, communities and green, growth across the Estuary.

Hear about what the Freeport means for businesses, communities and green, growth across the Estuary

You can listen on BBC Sounds here (must be logged in to listen) 1:18:25 – 1:24:30.

Screenshot of Jason Rosam's BBC Sounds programme

You can read the interview below:

Jason Rosam (JR): It’s the official opening today of the Thames Freeport, an event that happening in central London, but I want to know what is a Freeport? You might be asking the same question, what does it mean for us here in London? Well let’s speak to Perry Glading who is the Thames Estuary’s Deputy Chair who joins us now – good morning to you Perry!

Perry Glading (PG): Good morning Jason.

JR: So today’s an exciting day, although its already open isn’t it, the Thames Freeport? Or is this the official opening?

PG: This the commercial opening it hasn’t got full accreditation by government yet. It’s one of eight freeports across the country that’s made an application. Hopefully it will get the accreditation to be open towards the end of this year.

JR: Whare is the Thames Freeport? Is it the entirety of the Thames?

PG: No, it covers an area about 45km across. Its principally based around two major ports in Thurrock which are DP World’ London Gateway, and Forth Ports’ Port of Tilbury, but also covers London Enterprise Park, and Ford Dagenham so quite a big chunk of the Thames on the north side of the river.

JR: But what actually is it?

PG: Well, the Thames Freeport is a government initiative to bring economic growth to the area, particularly post-Covid, that’s very important, of course. And it gives significant tax breaks and savings for employers, and the ability for significant investment in that area with those tax incentives.

JR: And who benefits from this?

PG: Well, everyone benefits from this – the whole community benefits, the business benefits, but particularly the UK overall would benefit because this brings in investment from within the UK or from the rest of the world into this area of the UK; creating economic growth and also significant new jobs, particularly jobs of higher value, and upskilling, particularly for all those in the area.

JR: How many jobs do you think will go to Londoners?

PG: The view is that this would create at least 25,000 new jobs in a period of time and clearly those jobs are geared for the locals and the local communities. That growth would benefit Londoners and indeed those in south Essex and north Kent.

JR: Sure, and as you pass the square mile and Canary Wharf, and you twist around the Thames there – what does that look like now, and what is it going to look like in say 10 years’ time? Are we going to see a complete transformation of that part of the Thames?

PG: You will, and I think what you will see is some good, green growth. There’s going to be significant focus on the use of the river – you will see more use of the river. You’ll see good, green growth. You’ll see investment in green things such as hydrogen development so I think the area will look different, but it will look different from a green perspective. That’s good for communities rather than significant factories being built left, right and centre. This is all about quality growth, working alongside communities to make it a good place to live and work.

JR: We’re talking about dream homes this morning [on the programme], so I was wondering will that be a factor on that part of the Thames in the freeport area? Will there be new homes that rise up in in gleaming tower blocks and things like that there?

PG: I don’t know about tower blocks, but certainly new homes, and that’s a particular focus – working alongside the freeport – that local authorities have got. There will be significant need for new homes because you’re creating a number of new jobs, this is about creating a quality place to live and develop, rather than too many high-rise developments. There has to focus on what is good for communities as well.

JR: And are people excited about it there? Are they enthralled by it; can they not wait for it? Or is it difficult to get that across to people?

PG: This is private sector-led, they [bidding partners led by DP World (London Gateway), Forth Ports (Port of Tilbury), London Enterprise Park, and Ford Dagenham] been doing a lot of work with government to make sure this is in the right shape. Starting today that commercial messaging will get out there, and good, clear information as to how this would benefit the communities will start to be rolled out. There will be a better understanding coming in the future months.

JR: And what’s your role within it all then, Perry?

PG: I am Deputy Chair of the Thames Estuary Growth Board which is a strategic partner of the government that was set up just over about a year / a year and a half ago. Our work is all about developing what is good for the Thames Estuary. This comes off the back of some work Michael Heseltine had started with regard to the development of the region. We’re working with all the local authorities in and around Essex, Kent and East London and the City, the Port of London Authority to develop a better use of the Thames and Freeport as part of that.

JR: And do you think that the Thames is very much now, and in the future is still the lifeblood of London and we’re still going to be using it much more in the future?

PG: It’s the lifeblood of the UK! You know when you look at the 20miliion people that live within about 120 miles of the Thames that’s a significant part of the UK, so an enormous benefit for those in and around the Thames in London but also of such a strategic and global important position for the UK as well.

JR: We’re very proud of the Thames here in London. Whenever you see it, the Thames gets you, doesn’t it? Its very special to be by the Thames, and on the Thames when you get a chance to get on a boat.

Well, listen Perry its lovely talking to you about the Thames Freeport. Thank you very much for explaining it to us. Perry Glading there, Deputy Chair from the Thames Estuary Growth Board.

The Thames Freeport is opening today officially at an event in central London. We’ll see Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, opening that. And its going to be a nice bright day for the official opening of the Thames Freeport!

Find out more about the opportunities at the Thames Freeport: