Freeport East welcomes the UK Government’s Freeports Delivery Roadmap, designed to maximise support for inward investment, trade, and job creation. It includes over 50 measures across transport planning, energy infrastructure, skills support, and innovation funding, alongside a new £150m fund for business investments in freeports and investment zones.
The recently published Roadmap follows the government’s proposal to extend tax reliefs to 2031 on freeport development sites, boosting efforts to attract inward investors to Freeport East.
Steve Beel, Chief Executive of Freeport East highlights the Roadmap’s significance for local communities, “The new commitments in the roadmap come at an important time for us. As our progress with inward investment continues, we are keen to ensure we see the wider changes needed to maximise the full potential of Freeport East.
“Our work to secure more investment in our local grid capacity, our push to secure the delivery of strategic infrastructure investments, such as rail enhancements at Ely Junction, and our vitally important skills agenda, are just some of the examples where the roadmap will give us greater opportunity to deliver for our local area. As well as strengthening our reputation as an inward investment destination, these initiatives will directly benefit our local communities.”
Since its 2021 introduction, the Freeports policy has attracted nearly £3 billion in investment, creating over 6,000 jobs in two years. The new Roadmap outlines strategic measures to maximise the potential of strategically located port communities, creating innovation and investment hubs with clear delivery timeframes.
Freeport East has already attracted significant interest, with a £200m facility for the Range at Gateway 14 now completed and Scottish Power planning the development of a multi-hundred MW, £150m green hydrogen production facility at the Port of Felixstowe.
Lesley Wagland OBE, Essex County Councillor and Director of Freeport, emphasises the Roadmap’s significance in ensuring Freeport East realises its full potential. She said, “The importance of this roadmap lies in the opportunities it presents for all local partners to ensure that Freeport East delivers to its maximum potential and also contributes to broader benefits for our communities and businesses.
“As the only county in the country with two freeports, Essex is well-placed to maximise the benefits of these broader Government commitments. Through Freeport East, we see this as an opportunity for the entire East of England to spearhead efforts in delivering more public and private investment, positioning our economy for sustainable growth, and creating the high-quality jobs and skills opportunities we all want to see.”
Additional measures in the Roadmap include an enhanced role for the UK Infrastructure Bank in financing infrastructure upgrades for freeports. It also emphasises joint working between Freeports, Institutes of Technology, and local colleges, linking jobseekers to opportunities through Jobcentre Plus. Government departments will also join forces to tackle investment barriers, establishing an independent advisory panel for freeports to amplify the business voice.
Minister for Levelling Up Jacob Young said, “We are already seeing the vast and undeniable opportunities that Freeports are bringing, having brought in almost £3 billion of investment, which will create thousands of long-term jobs in sectors of the future.
“Our action plan in the Freeports Delivery Roadmap will maximise the potential of these communities to become centres of innovation and investment, with clear delivery timeframes to ensure rapid progress.
“Our goal is to improve lives for local people in areas historically overlooked and Freeports are helping us achieve that.”
Further details on Freeport East tax sites and wider benefits can be found here.