Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : First Freeports launched in major economic boost [December 2022]

The press release issued by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on 7 December 2022.

The United Kingdom’s first Freeports in Plymouth, Solent, and Teesside are now fully up and running after receiving final government approval.

  • Teesside, Plymouth and South Devon and Solent Freeports fully operational after final government sign off
  • Up to £25 million in seed funding from Government will be released to turbocharge development in each Freeport
  • Freeports will play key role in creating tens of thousands of jobs and driving economic growth with billions of pounds of investment

The United Kingdom’s first Freeports in Plymouth, Solent, and Teesside are now fully up and running after receiving final government approval today (Wednesday 7 December).

The Freeports becoming fully operational is a major milestone in the government’s mission to level up communities across the country and will help spread opportunity and drive economic growth.

Each of these Freeports will now receive up to £25 million seed funding and potentially tens of millions of pounds in locally retained business rates to upgrade local infrastructure and stimulate regeneration.

Businesses in Freeports can take advantage of tax incentives, unlocking much-needed investment and bringing high quality jobs in industries of the future to some of the nation’s most overlooked communities.

Combined, the first three Freeports are expected to bring millions of pounds in investment and thousands of highly skilled jobs, turbocharging local economies and benefitting the whole of the UK.

Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison said:

We are taking full advantage of the freedoms of leaving the EU and these Freeports in Teesside, Plymouth and South Devon and Solent will attract new business to often overlooked areas, creating thousands of jobs.

Now they are up and running, these Freeports will harness local expertise to grow vital industries and turbocharge our national economy.

Freeports will generate prosperity and spread opportunity throughout the UK by driving innovation and throwing open our doors to trade with the world.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has given the final greenlight for the Freeports which are set to receive up to £25 million each to drive local plans.

This means:

• Teesside can continue to drive investment and industrial growth in renewables, advanced manufacturing and the chemicals and process sectors, creating more than 18,000 highly skilled jobs in the northeast.

• Plymouth and South Devon will harness the region’s marine and defence expertise to deliver thousands of skilled jobs injecting millions of pounds of investment into the region.

• Solent will grow its ambitious maritime economy, making the Solent a thriving hub for the world’s marine and maritime sector.

Ben Murray, Maritime UK Chief Executive, said:

The freeport programme is catalysing economic growth and job creation in coastal towns and cities around the UK. We’re delighted to see the first three officially launched with ambitious plans to develop their local proposition for inward investment, innovation, and exports.

From marine autonomy to defence, advanced manufacturing to decarbonisation, these freeports will help strengthen our maritime clusters and grow our maritime sector; already one of Britain’s biggest industries. We look forward to continuing to work with government to harness the potential of maritime to accelerate levelling-up.

Richard Ballantyne OBE, Chief Executive, British Ports Association said:

Congratulations to the Plymouth, Solent and Tees Freeports as there has been a lot of hard work to get to this stage. We welcome the next chapter of this key economic policy and want to see Freeports work for their regions as well as the whole of the UK.

We believe strongly that the business benefits Freeport areas include will be pivotal in attracting new investment and jobs to our important coastal regions. This is an exciting time to be involved in the ports sector and we are pleased that policy makers see our industry as a focal point for levelling up.

Freeports benefit from a package of measures, comprising tax reliefs, customs advantages, business rates retention, planning, regeneration, innovation and trade and investment support.

We expect the remaining five English Freeports to join Plymouth, Solent, and Teesside in receiving final approvals shortly, and we remain committed to ensuring all four corners of the UK can reap the benefits of our Freeports programme.