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The Thames Freeport

In the Chancellor’s March budget, Rishi Sunak announced the locations for eight freeports across the UK, including the Thames Estuary.

The Thames Freeport will provide incredible opportunities for the Thames Estuary and all the people who live and work in it, helping communities to thrive.

WHAT IS A FREEPORT?

Freeports are zones where normal tax and customs rules are changed to encourage economic activity.

In 2020, the government announced plans to create 10 freeports in the United Kingdom to turbo-charge trade following Brexit. These freeports will become hubs for innovation, boost global trade, attract inward investment and increase productivity.

Freeport status offers wider benefits for businesses such as planning reforms, funding for infrastructure improvements and innovation incentives.

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THE BENEFITS IN A NUTSHELL

The Thames Freeport will help communities to thrive and support us to level up with more prosperous parts of the UK. It will also support our ambition to deliver the greenest estuary on the planet. It has the potential to deliver:

  • 25,000+ new jobs
  • Increased average wages
  • New training and upskilling opportunities
  • Enhanced physical and digital infrastructure
  • £400million in unlocked port investment
  • New foreign investment
  • Catalyse generation of clean energy, including hydrogen
  • Contribution to regional and national net zero targets
  • Innovation in low carbon technology
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WHY IS THE THAMES ESTUARY THE RIGHT PLACE FOR A FREEPORT?

The River Thames is the UK’s gateway to the rest of the world. The Estuary has excellent links into central London and major European cities, as well as vast swathes of riverside and brownfield sites, many with planning consents in place.

A freeport is a magnet for business and investment, and those economic benefits will ripple across the Estuary with jobs, up-skilling opportunities, improvements to infrastructure, and other benefits.

The Thames Estuary has the potential to contribute £115 billion to the national economy by 2050 and provide 1.5 million new jobs. A freeport is a huge step towards delivering this.

Commercial docks worker.

HOW WAS THE THAMES ESTUARY GROWTH BOARD INVOLVED?

Last year, we set out our guiding principles for freeport proposals within the Estuary. These principles laid out the criteria we expect freeports to meet, including tangible benefits for the Estuary region and its residents. They focused on six key areas: economic, investment, innovation, environment, regeneration and community.

The bidding consortium (DP World), Forth Ports (Port of Tilbury), Ford Dagenham and Thames Enterprise Park kept us updated with the progress of their bid so we could see how our principles were met in their planning.

We supported them by lobbying the Government that a Thames Freeport is in the best interests of the UK as well as our region.

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Watch our video for more information about the Thames Freeport bid and why we supported it.

Watch The Video