Today's green light for Thurrock Thames Freeport should be massive economic boost for local community say business leaders

By Neil Speight

3rd Mar 2021 | Local News

WHILE the budget has concentrated on battling the effects of coronavirus, Thurrock has its own huge story to tell today with confirmation by the Chancellor that the Thames Freeport - which centres on Thurrock - has been approved.

Nub News will be reporting on the overall impact of the budget locally later, with a reaction from local business and pointing out what it means to residents and employers, but the granting of freeport status to the two ports the Thames in the borough is also huge news.

The Thames Freeport is one of eight across the UK approved today (Wednesday, 3 March) meaning the area will become an independent economic zone connecting the global ports at London Gateway and Tilbury with Ford's Dagenham engine plant and providing an economic boost to the region with an influx of employment opportunities expected.

Businesses looking to expand are already being urged to take advantage of the tax benefits of relocating to the Freeport and being part of a customs zone, which makes it easier and cheaper to move goods into and out of the country.

The projected benefits of Thames Freeport which is expected to add more than five billion pounds to the region's economy include:

More than £4.5 billion in new public and private investment

25,000+ new jobs with many more across supply chains, with significant investment in training and skills

1,700 acres of development land – much with planning consent

£400 million port investment into some of the most deprived areas

Stuart Wallace, Chief Operating Officer at Forth Ports (owner of the Port of Tilbury), said: "This is fantastic news and we are ready to hit the ground running. The freeport builds upon the successful completion of our new port, Tilbury2 and provides the platform for further expansion.

"The freeport policy's special economic measures will turbocharge the best of the private sector, attracting value add manufacturing activity to the ports, the Thames Estuary and the wider South East, alongside supporting key infrastructure projects in the coming years. The Thames Freeport will be that catalyst to level up the left behind communities along the estuary."

Dr Graham Hoare OBE, Chairman and Executive Director, Business Transformation, Ford of Britain, added: "The Thames Freeport will be a new centre of excellence for the country as we electrify, automate and digitise our future. The freeport provides Ford with a great opportunity as a test bed for a variety of customer-focused mobility technologies and other business opportunities at Ford Dagenham in the future."

Alan Shaoul, Chief Financial Officer at DP World in the UK (owner of the port and logistics park, London Gateway), commented: "We are open for business and would urge anyone looking to expand to get in touch to find out more about the benefits of locating at Thames Freeport.

"Our London Gateway site alone has almost 10m square feet of land that has planning consent, and the capacity to expand materially its operational area and therefore attract new foreign direct investment within the lifetime of this parliament."

The Freeport says working with the Port of London Authority, Thurrock Council, Barking and Dagenham Council, the South East LEP, the Thames Estuary Growth Board and other key stakeholders it will 'continue to develop key Thames Freeport programmes, including the proposed hydrogen fuel production, storage and fuelling project'.

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