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East Midlands Freeport

Volume 730: debated on Thursday 30 March 2023

Today I have the pleasure of announcing that east midlands freeport has received final Government approval, in a huge boost for the midlands. This is another significant milestone for the freeports programme and demonstrates the speed in which these areas, and the programme, are moving to deliver the freeport benefits. This gives a clear signal: the Government are backing these areas to grow and thrive.

Freeports play a major role in this Government’s economic strategy by mobilising investment through a combination of tax reliefs on new economic activity, a special streamlined customs procedure, an ambitious programme of public investment, and wide-ranging support from the UK Government to help businesses trade. These measures will drive growth, create jobs and, in turn, bring opportunities and prosperity to the communities that surround them: a real example of levelling up in action.

East midlands freeport will now receive up to £25 million in seed funding, and potentially hundreds of millions in locally retained business rates to upgrade local infrastructure and stimulate regeneration. This is alongside generous tax reliefs and a simplified customs procedure, all backed by a package of trade and innovation support for businesses located there.

Armed with these tools, east midlands freeport will drive investments in and around the East Midlands airport and Gateway industrial cluster in north-west Leicestershire, the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station site in Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands Intermodal Park in south Derbyshire. This will bring jobs, in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, automotive and space, to local communities.

And this is only the beginning. Across Government, we are working closely with the English freeports to support them to achieve their objectives and deliver transformational benefits for their local areas.

We also recently announced two new freeports in Wales as well as two green freeports in Scotland. Discussions continue with our stakeholders in Northern Ireland about how we can extend the benefits associated with the freeport programme there.

This is an incredibly exciting time for UK freeports and the wider levelling up agenda as we start to see local areas bring their plans to life with big private investments, upgrades to local infrastructure, and bold regeneration initiatives in those areas that need a boost, creating real impacts for local people.