Skip to content

Welcome the Rt Hon Ruth Kelly, Chair of the Thames Freeport

News / Freeports

17th November 2021

The Thames Estuary Growth Board is delighted to welcome the Rt Hon Ruth Kelly as the inaugural Chair of the Thames Freeport.

As a former Secretary of State, Ruth has a profound knowledge of government and understanding of the logistics sector. This experience will be a huge asset for propelling the Freeport’s transformation and ensuring it benefits local people through skills and jobs opportunities, as well as bringing a huge range of environmental benefits.

Rt Hon Ruth Kelly, Chair of Thames Freeportcommented “I’m pleased to lead a coalition of public sector partners and businesses at the forefront of their industries during a period of seismic change.  The Freeport will create an irresistible investment platform around our world-class ports – London Gateway and Tilbury – that will deliver a step-change in terminal capacity, supply chain resilience and manufacturing capability for UK plc.

“The Freeport will drive fresh large-scale inward investment, while driving regeneration in areas of need across our region and creating a centre of excellence for the country as we electrify, automate and digitise our future.”

Kate Willard OBE, Estuary Envoy and Chair of the Thames Estuary Growth Board, said “I am absolutely delighted that the Rt Hon Ruth Kelly has been appointed to this important role. The Thames Freeport has the potential to catalyse huge good green growth and lift up communities across the Estuary. Ruth’s knowledge and background make her ideally placed to understand how to make the Thames Freeport deliver these positive changes for businesses, people and the environment, to help us achieve net zero and level up the region. And I am very excited to begin working with her.”

Thames Freeport is a ‘digitally linked economic zone,’ it comprises the international ports at London Gateway and Tilbury, Ford’s world-class Dagenham engine plant, and the Thames Enterprise Park, a billion-pound inward investment proposal that will become a vibrant manufacturing, energy and logistics super-hub.

The Thames Estuary Growth Board has supported the creation of a freeport in the Thames that supports levelling up, net zero and global trade, and benefits businesses, communities and the local environment.

Now open for business, Thames Freeport has seen a huge surge in interest from businesses want to locate here in the months since the Chancellor’s announcement in the March budget this year.

As well as being attractive to businesses the Thames Freeport will bring a range of socio-economic and environmental benefits including:

  • Creating 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.
  • Catalysing generation of clean energy, including hydrogen.
  • Contributing to regional and national net zero targets.
  • Supporting innovation in low carbon technology.

The Thames Freeport will play a key role in the development of a Thames Estuary Hydrogen Ecosystem, as outlined in the recently launched Hydrogen Route Map that sets out the steps for investment and development. The Thames Freeport offers a great opportunity for investing in this clean energy and decarbonising traffic and logistics around the Estuary.

In addition to green tech innovation and production, we have an ongoing workstream involving stakeholders, including the Thames Freeport partners, to understand how we can make better use of the river for freight to reduce traffic and pollution.

The Board and partners are working together closely to make sure the – already commercially attractive – Thames Freeport exemplifies good green growth.

Read about our principles for supporting the Thames Freeport.

Find out more about the Thames Freeport