The East Midlands has received a major economic boost using the government’s announcement that it will be certainly one of eight new Freeports in England, creating approximately 60,000 new skilled jobs for that region.
Based around the East Midlands Airport and Gateway Industrial Cluster (EMAGIC) in North West Leicestershire, Uniper’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station site in Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire and also the East Midlands Intermodal Park (EMIP) in South Derbyshire, the Freeport will bring significant investment to develop and drive innovation, alternative energy sources and green technology supporting SME’s and large regional employers, including Rolls-Royce, Toyota, and Alstom (formerly Bombardier).
The East Midlands Freeport bid was submitted with a consortium led by the Local Enterprise Partnerships representing Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Leicester, and Leicestershire. It included private sector businesses and native authorities, with support from universities, business groups, local MP’s and also the proposed East Midlands Development Corporation.
The consortium will work with the government to develop the proposals into an Outline Business Case providing further information on how the Freeport will be delivered.
Elizabeth Fagan CBE, Chair from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “I'm delighted with today’s news. The East Midlands Freeport will create thousands of jobs, accelerate the region’s resolve for decarbonisation, and drive low carbon energy investments.
“Our bid was built on strong collaboration across business, local authorities and other sectors and will deliver a powerful and different proposition not just for our region but for the whole of the UK.”
Kevin Harris is Chair of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Ltd. Board of Directors, said: “This really is fantastic news for the East Midlands as the Freeport will drive our region’s economic prosperity for many years.
“It represents an opportunity to attract international investment, capitalise on our key strengths and increase jobs and exports across key industries.
“The benefit to businesses will be streamlined planning, tax relief and simplified customs procedures which will support their growth, and as a result, local communities will benefit from additional employment opportunities and better infrastructure; both of which are targeted at improving people’s livelihoods
Clare James, East Midlands Airport’s Managing Director, said: “I’m delighted that the Government has recognised enormous potential within the East Midlands and how it will be enhanced with a Freeport in the region. Today’s news will shine a spotlight on the part of the country which has so much to offer investors, existing companies that wish to grow, and the supply chains that are linked to them.
“The global connectivity that East Midlands Airport brings to the bid is more important than ever as the UK looks to strike trade deals around the world. Furthermore, as the region’s international gateway for people and products, it will continue to play a significant role in the Government’s ambition for any ‘global Britain’.”
Dave Johnson, Sites Manager, Uniper, said: “Today’s budget statement by the Chancellor is great news for the region. The creation of a Freeport complements our wider vision for the Ratcliffe power station site, which will see it move towards becoming a zero carbon technology and hub for the East Midlands.”
Leader of Derbyshire County Council Councillor, Barry Lewis, said: “This is excellent news for Derbyshire — an East Midlands Freeport can make our county an even more attractive location for businesses to invest, thrive and survive.
“We’re fully committed to initiatives that help our economy to construct back better and by accelerating the region’s resolve for decarbonisation and boosting the area’s status as a leading innovation hub for green energy, a Freeport promises not only to bring more jobs to the area but the right kind of sustainable low carbon industry needed for our region to thrive later on.”
Kay Cutts MBE, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “This is great news for the region. Alongside the seaport at Immingham, which may help Lincolnshire and the wider Yorkshire and Humber region, this new freeport can create jobs, skills and business across the East Midlands and attract investors throughout the world.
“Having this freeport here in the heart of Britain will boost productivity and growth, and eventually improve lives in the years ahead.”
Leader of Rushcliffe Borough Council, Cllr Simon Robinson, said: “We’re delighted the East Midlands has been chosen for this hugely significant project to provide an environmental and business opportunity that can enhance Rushcliffe as a great place to live and attract high skilled jobs.
“Low carbon and green technology initiatives for that site at Ratcliffe-on-Soar here in the Borough will potentially bring international investment and a large number of employment opportunities, it’s an exciting time for Rushcliffe and the region.”
South Derbyshire District Council Leader, Councillor Kevin Richards, said: “The success of the bid presents a chance to provide significant economic advantages to South Derbyshire and the East Midlands region.
“It will undoubtedly attract new purchase of addition to supporting the growth of existing businesses in the district.”
Ruth Edwards, the Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe said: “The opportunity of growth and investment in the East Midlands is enormous. The East Midlands Freeport will unlock this potential, securing long-term, high quality jobs for people across Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Leicestershire.
“The Ratcliffe on Soar site in Rushcliffe is among the three locations central towards the bid. I look forward to promoting the advantages a freeport will bring to my constituency and also to the wider region.”
Mrs Heather Wheeler, the Person in Parliament South Derbyshire, said: “This is very good news for our local economy and our environment. This will keep our local business owners competitive, encourage re-shoring of manufacturing, bring new jobs, take thousands of polluting lorry journeys off our roads and allow us to really deal with local flooding issues once and for all in this area.”
Leader of Nottingham City Council, Councillor David Mellen, said: “I’m very happy to see that this proposal has taken a significant step forward with the Chancellor’s announcement today. Providing jobs for the citizens of Nottingham is going to be answer to recovery.
“We want to create more jobs inside the city but are aware that many Nottingham residents travel to workplaces in the region, including in the region around East Midlands airport.
“We want the public transport offer to those workplaces to be improved and investment in the government in our region that has been left behind in funding compared with other areas. The Freeport is an important part from the development needed.”
Leader of Derby City Council, Councillor Chris Poulter said: “I am very pleased to hear today’s announcement. Using a Freeport so close to Derby is a major boost to the future economic plans, bringing by using it the potential for many thousands of jobs for the city and the region.
“Derby is a city of innovation already the place to find world class brands serving global markets and we look forward to working with Government, the non-public sector and our local partners to leverage the full benefits of Freeport status.”
East Midlands Chamber Chief Executive Scott Knowles, said: “Our region already has fantastic national and international trading links – something highlighted throughout the pandemic – and freeport status means we can cement our role in the middle of Britain’s post-Brexit global trading relationship.
“We are in a unique position as the only inland freeport among the eight designated zones, that is testament to East Midlands Airport’s reputation because the country’s most important mover of international freight and also the catalyst for the explosive growth we’ve witnessed within our region’s logistics sector in recent years.
“This free trade zone, which will have a focus on innovation, low carbon and trade, signals the direction of travel for the East Midlands economy – giving investors something tangible to back in order to deliver the inward investment and jobs that will enable growth.”
Maria Machancoses, director of Midlands Connect said: “It’s fantastic news that East Midlands Airport has been confirmed as the location of one of eight UK Freeports, along with the Humber Freeport, which contains Immingham Port in Lincolnshire. We'll now work in earnest with local authorities to make sure these sites are well-connected, and that businesses have the road and rail infrastructure required to trade with local, national and international partners.”
Councillor Richard Blunt, Leader of North West Leicestershire District Council, said: “Today’s news is extremely welcome – a freeport in the East Midlands is actually exciting opportunity for North West Leicestershire with huge possibility to support the economic recovery and development of the area.
“How we rebuild our local economy following the Covid-19 pandemic will be key to the long term to prosperity of our district, to see the Freeport plans receive Government backing is indeed a positive.
“North West Leicestershire is proud to be a green district with ambitious Zero Carbon plans and it’s best to see the bid freeport bid also acknowledge its need to be forward thinking in its decarbonisation and green ambitions.
“Because the local planning authority, North West Leicestershire District Council will take a key role in determining future planning applications for that freeport and so we keep an open mind on the proposals, and look forward to seeing them develop.”
Andrew Bridgend, Person in Parliament for North West Leicestershire, said: “This really is fantastic news from the Chancellor for North West Leicestershire and the wider region. This can attract investment, spur local and regional economic growth and enhance international trade. This can bring tens of thousands of new jobs and improved local infrastructure because the Government rolls out its levelling up agenda.”
Nick Rushton, Leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: “This is great news and a real boon for that East Midlands. Creating thousands of much-needed jobs and advancing our position as a green technology trailblazer would certainly assist the region’s economy to recover and expand. This is a once-in-lifetime opportunity to put the East Midlands on the map and I’m pleased the federal government has recognised the bid’s potential.”