Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has welcomed the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, that his bid to set up the UK’s first and biggest freeport in Teesside has been given the green light.
The bid, submitted to Government just a month ago by Mayor Houchen, covers sites across the region, including Teesworks, Wilton International, Teesside International Airport, the Port of Middlesbrough, the Port of Hartlepool, Liberty Steel, LV Shipping and PD Ports. By spreading out the Freeport maximum benefit can be gained for the people of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.
A key part of Mayor Houchen’s plan for jobs, the Teesside Freeport will create 18,000 skilled, good-quality jobs within 5 years, boost the local economy by £3.4billion and support offshore wind, clean energy, chemicals and process, and advanced manufacturing sectors. It also offers the opportunity to reshore good-quality manufacturing jobs from overseas. All without reducing environmental protections or workers’ rights.
Covering 4,500 acres, the equivalent of 2,550 football pitches, the Teesside Freeport will be the biggest in the UK and will increase inward investment into Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool by over £1.4 billion.
Areas given Freeport status within the region would benefit from a wide package of tax reliefs, simplified customs procedures, streamlined planning processes to boost redevelopment and government support to promote regeneration and innovation.
Today’s announcement is the culmination of years of work by the Mayor who has been at the forefront of developing the UK’s Freeport policy for the last three years. First working alongside Rishi Sunak before he entered government, and then taking the lead in driving forward the case for Freeports and making sure their delivery is a success.
Mayor Houchen said: “Future generations will look back on today and say this was the day Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool was reborn as an industrial powerhouse.
“The Teesside Freeport marks the start of us returning to our rightful place on the world stage as a global player in advanced manufacturing and engineering. Today’s announcement now means that investors from across the world will choose to bring their investment to Teesside instead of elsewhere in the world. Investment that previously would have wandered off to Holland or Germany will now come to Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool – creating thousands of well-paid jobs for local people.
“With the largest development site in Western Europe, amazing infrastructure, a workforce to be envied and now the UK’s largest Freeport, we’ve put the building blocks in place for local people to benefit from the tsunami of jobs and investment that will come to our area in the weeks and months ahead.
“It’s taken nearly four years to turn this plan into a reality, but good things come to those who wait – and better things come to those who fight for what they deserve. The future of our area has been set on a new path. A path of prosperity, investment, jobs and a better life for local people.
“As we look towards our recovery from Covid, this allows us to not only recover but come back bigger, better and stronger than ever.”
Posted on 3rd March 2021