East Midlands Freeport set for take-off!

Published on: Wednesday, 3rd March 2021

The East Midlands received a major economic boost on Budget Day 3rd March, with the government's announcement that it will be one of 8 new Freeports in the England, creating an estimated 60,000 new skilled jobs for the region.

The news recognises the joint work and efforts by partners from both the public and private sectors and politicians from all parties to deliver an ambitious and innovative project that will transform the region's social and economic future.

Based around the East Midlands Airport and Gateway Industrial Cluster (EMAGIC) in North West Leicestershire, Uniper’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station site in Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands Intermodal Park (EMIP) in South Derbyshire, the Freeport will bring significant investment to develop and drive innovation, alternative energy sources and green technology supporting SME's and large regional employers, including Rolls-Royce, Toyota, and Alstom (formerly Bombardier).

The East Midlands Freeport bid was submitted by a consortium led by the Local Enterprise Partnerships representing Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Leicester, and Leicestershire.  It included private sector businesses and local authorities, with support from universities, business groups, local MP's and the proposed East Midlands Development Corporation.

The consortium will now work with the government to develop the proposals into an Outline Business Case providing further information on how the Freeport will be delivered.

Elizabeth Fagan CBE, Chair of the D2N2 LEP, said: "I am delighted with today's news.  The East Midlands Freeport will create thousands of jobs, accelerate the region's commitment to decarbonisation, and drive low carbon energy investments.

"Our bid was built on strong collaboration across business, local authorities and other sectors and will deliver a powerful and unique proposition not just for our region but for the whole of the UK."

Clare James, East Midlands Airport’s Managing Director, said: "I’m delighted that the government has recognised enormous potential in the East Midlands and how it will be enhanced by a Freeport in the region.  Today’s news will shine a spotlight on a part of the country which has so much to offer investors, existing businesses that wish to grow, and the supply chains that are linked to them.

"The global connectivity that East Midlands Airport brings to the bid is more important than ever as the UK looks to strike trade deals around the world.  Furthermore, as the region’s international gateway for people and products, it will continue to play a significant role in the government’s ambition for a ‘global Britain’.

Leader of Derbyshire County Council Councillor Barry Lewis, said: "This is excellent news for Derbyshire - an East Midlands Freeport will make our county an even more attractive location for businesses to invest, thrive and survive.

"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 promises not only to bring more jobs to the area but the right kind of sustainable low carbon industry needed for our region to thrive in the future."

East Midlands Chamber Chief Executive Scott Knowles, said: "Our region already has fantastic national and international trading links – something highlighted during the pandemic – and freeport status means we can cement our role at the centre of Britain's post-Brexit global trading relationship.

"We are in a unique position as the only inland freeport among the 10 designated zones, which is testament to East Midlands Airport's reputation as the country's most important mover of international freight and the catalyst for the explosive growth we've witnessed in our region's logistics sector in recent years.

"This free trade zone, which will have a focus on innovation, low carbon and trade, signals the direction of travel for the East Midlands economy – giving investors something tangible to back in order to deliver the inward investment and jobs that will enable growth."

Maria Machancoses, director of Midlands Connect said: "It's fantastic news that East Midlands Airport has been confirmed as the location of one of 8 UK Freeports, as well as the Humber Freeport, which contains Immingham Port in Lincolnshire. We will now work in earnest with local authorities to make sure these sites are well-connected, and that businesses have the road and rail infrastructure needed to trade with local, national and international partners."

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