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Boost for Thames Estuary as Freeport opens for business

News / Freeports

17th December 2021

Thames Freeport will turbocharge the region’s green energy credentials, inject billions into the economy and help level up the region by creating jobs and opportunities for local talent.

Thames Freeport has opened for business and will play a key role in the government’s central mission to level up across the United Kingdom.

The Thames Freeport estimates it will draw £4.5 billion of new investment and create 21,000 skilled jobs, bringing greater prosperity to some of the country’s most deprived communities.

Positioned on the doorstep of the UK’s busiest ports and largest labour market of London and the south east, the Thames Freeport will create a new global gateway for trade and benefit communities such as Thurrock, Barking, Dagenham and Havering, which have high rates of unemployment and child poverty.

This is the second freeport to open in the UK and comes just weeks after the UK’s first freeport opened for business in Teesside.

Thames Freeport covers a 34 km-wide economic corridor and is supported by a share of £200 million of government funding and tax incentives.

The freeport will be a world class hub of innovation and put the region at the forefront of the cutting-edge sectors of the future, with significant investment in hydrogen technology, battery storage and electric vehicles.

A new Thames Freeport Skills Accelerator will also bring industry together with local schools, colleges and universities to provide training and job opportunities so that local people can gain the skills they need and secure employment.

Minister for Levelling Up Neil O’Brien MP said: “This is a truly exciting and momentous moment for London and the south east. Thames Freeport will turbocharge the region’s green energy credentials, inject billions into the economy and help level up by creating jobs and opportunities for local talent. Ford’s Dagenham site is a great example of how British businesses will directly benefit and help to put our country at the forefront of the industries of the future.”

Ruth Kelly, Chair of Thames Freeport, said: “The Thames Freeport will be a new centre of excellence for the country. The Thames Freeport partners come together to offer a platform for global Britain. The freeport provides Ford with a great opportunity as a test bed for customer-focused mobility technologies; London Gateway has fantastic global connections and land ready for development now; while the Port of Tilbury continues to deliver growth across processing, advanced manufacturing and next generation logistics.”

Perry Glading, Deputy Chair and Joint Lead for Freeports at the Thames Estuary Growth Board said: “We would like to thank the team who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the Thames Freeport is one of the first to become operational in the country. This is not just about being one of the first, this is about being the best. The Thames Freeport will unlock a host of opportunities in green tech, research and innovation, investment and provide exciting careers for people in the Estuary. This will all help us level up and address the region’s high levels of deprivation.”

Martha Grekos, Joint Lead for Freeports at the Thames Estuary Growth Board said: “We are delighted that the Thames Freeport is officially open. We have supported the Thames Freeport throughout the bid process because it will have a positive ripple effect across the region. As well as supporting the Government’s levelling up agenda, it will unlock investment, jobs and skills opportunities that will benefit people across the Estuary. The Thames Estuary is good place to do business.”

At the Budget in March 2021, the Chancellor announced 8 successful prospective freeports locations in England, following a fair and open and assessment process. These include:

  • East Midlands Airport
  • Felixstowe & Harwich (known as Freeport East)
  • Humber
  • Liverpool City Region
  • Plymouth & South Devon
  • Solent
  • Teesside
  • Thames

Teesside Freeport opened for business in November and has a specific focus on green energy and offshore wind power.

Freeport East, including the ports of Felixstowe & Harwich, will begin initial operations later this month as eligible businesses that base themselves in the tax site start to benefit from tax incentives.

Work is continuing with other freeports to ensure they reach this important milestone as soon as they are able.

The UK government also remains committed to establishing the freeport programme in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as soon as possible.

Read the Government’s Statement

Find out more about the Thames Freeport