Investment News | 16 February 2021

East Midlands Freeport bid to create 60,000 jobs

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A consortium co-led by the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership has submitted an East Midlands bid for Freeport status, which could create around 60,000 jobs across the region.

Along with the LEP for Leicester and Leicestershire, it has applied to the Government to create an inland Freeport, which could bring significant investment to develop and drive innovation, alternative energy sources and green technology.

It would be based around the East Midlands Airport and Gateway Industrial Cluster (EMAGIC) in North West Leicestershire, Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station, in Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands Intermodal Park, in South Derbyshire.

At the heart of the bid is the chance to 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 Alstom (formerly Bombardier).

Elizabeth Fagan CBE, chair of the D2N2 LEP said: “The East Midlands Freeport is an integral part of the LEP’s ambition to transform our region’s social and economic future.

“Through strong collaboration and partnerships, we have assembled a compelling bid that will deliver key government policies, support evidence-based local plans, and drive private sector ambition.”

Freeports, championed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, are designed to attract major domestic and international investment.

In November, the Government set out details of how it will create 10 new Freeports across the UK to create jobs and regenerate communities.

It has confirmed that UK Freeports will benefit from streamlined planning processes to aid brownfield redevelopment, a package of tax reliefs to help drive jobs, growth and innovation, as well as simplified customs procedures and duty suspensions on goods.

Elizabeth Fagan said: “Freeport status will capitalise and grow 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 prosper.

“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.”

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

Councillor Barry Lewis, leader of Derbyshire County Council, said: “We’re fully committed to initiatives that help our economy to build back better and by accelerating the region’s commitment to decarbonisation and boosting the area’s status as a leading innovation hub for green energy.

“A Freeport would not only bring more jobs to the area but the right kind of sustainable low carbon industry needed for our region to thrive in the future.”

Scott Knowles, chief executive of East Midlands Chamber, said: “The UK’s exit from 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 with the EU and beyond.

“For the East Midlands this presents us with a massive opportunity. We already have the expertise, land, much of the necessary infrastructure and, of course, businesses – but obtaining a Freeport with a focus on innovation, low carbon and trade is central to us realising that opportunity to its full extent.”

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