East Midlands makes Freeport bid in opportunity to create thousands of jobs

 East Midlands makes Freeport bid in opportunity to create thousands of jobs

An East Midlands bid for Freeport status continues to be submitted to the government by a consortium led through the two Local Enterprise Partnerships that represent Leicester, Leicestershire, Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

The bid would generate a “unique” inland Freeport at the heart of the UK with “unrivalled” rail connectivity to all UK ports and bring significant investment to build up and drive innovation, alternative energy sources and green technologies, creating close to 60,000 new skilled jobs to regions of deprivation in the East Midlands.

In response to the Government’s Freeport prospectus, the East Midlands has put forward a proposition 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 consortium says the sites’ central and strategic location will give you employment and skills opportunities over the East Midlands and strengthen connectivity across the wider Midlands region to stimulate investment and develop and grow industrial strengths in advanced manufacturing, automotive and logistics.

At the center of the bid is the opportunity to accelerate the region’s commitment to decarbonisation and boost the area’s status as a leading innovation hub for green energy supporting SME’s and large regional employers including Rolls Royce, Toyota, and Bombardier.

Freeports, championed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, are made to attract major domestic and international investment. In November this past year, the government set out details of the way it will create 10 new Freeports across the UK to create jobs and regenerate communities.

The government has confirmed that UK Freeports will benefit from:

• streamlined planning processes to aid brownfield redevelopment
• a package of tax reliefs to assist drive jobs, growth, and innovation
• simplified customs procedures and duty suspensions on goods

The East Midlands bid has been submitted by a consortium including private sector businesses, local authorities, East Midlands Development Corporation with support from universities, business groups, local MP’s and also the Midlands Engine.

Kevin Harris, Chair of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Board of Directors, said: “Central Government support for the development of Freeports is a major opportunity for the East Midlands. The geographic location in our region, and the high amounts of entrenched expertise in the fields of logistics and import/export found here, make the East Midlands an obvious choice for the location of a Freeport.

“Leicestershire is home to East Midlands Airport, which is already the largest dedicated freight airport in the united kingdom. Its integration with the East Midlands Gateway logistics hub will ensure the smooth running of the Freeport from day one. Furthermore, it boasts the scope and ambition to grow, meaning that our Freeport capacity can continue to grow to meet the demands of increased investment.

“I’m proud that the LLEP is working in partnership with D2N2 to provide a Freeport to the East Midlands. When the bid is successful, this project is going to be of huge benefit to our region, providing innovation, regeneration, and the ‘Skills for the Workforce’ that are a major priority of the LLEP. The benefits conveyed by an East Midlands Freeport will emanate from the heart of the country and mean that success for the East Midlands is shared through the wider UK economy for many years.”

Elizabeth Fagan CBE, Chair of the D2N2 LEP, said: “The East Midlands Freeport is an essential part of the LEP’s ambition to change our region’s social and economic future. Through strong collaboration and partnerships, we've assembled a compelling bid that delivers key government policies, support evidence-based local plans, and drive private sector ambition.

“Freeport status will safeguard our industrial strengths in advanced manufacturing, automotive and logistics and boost our competitiveness in new green opportunities to create thousands of jobs and provide SME businesses with a fantastic opportunity to develop and grow.

“It is a project that can be delivered now, allowing us to build back better from the impacts of Covid-19, to level up the region and regenerate our communities to deliver significant economic green growth.”

East Midlands Chamber Chief Executive Scott Knowles, said: “The disruption the pandemic has brought has highlighted the importance of the East Midlands like a centre for trade in the UK. Our logistics sector is continuing to grow faster here than elsewhere in the country and the airport has played a central role within this as the country’s most important mover of international freight.

“The UK’s exit in the EU amplifies the opportunity for developing new international trade opportunities, to reimagine supply chains and to build greater resilience in existing customer and supplier relationships using the EU and beyond. For that East Midlands this presents us having a massive opportunity.

“We already have the expertise, land, a lot of the necessary infrastructure and, obviously, businesses – but obtaining a freeport having a focus on innovation, low carbon and trade is central to all of us realising that opportunity to its full extent.”

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