Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has today (November 16) confirmed Teesworks will bid for Freeport status as the Government announced the process for applications was now open.
The government has today announced the bidding process has opened to establish up to 10 Freeports across the UK, with the first expected to be open by the end of next year.
Bidders will need to submit bids by February 5th next year, with an assessment panel reviewing the bids in March and decisions made later in spring 2021.
Areas given Freeport status will 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, helping to create thousands of jobs and boost post-Brexit growth.
Teesworks’ bid for Freeport status would make it the largest Freeport in the UK. A detailed policy paper submitted to Government in 2019, developed by Mayor Houchen, found that a Freeport on the River Tees could create up to 32,000 jobs and add £2billion to the regional economy.
Mayor Houchen said: “For years I have been pushing a case for a Freeport right here in Teesside - it was a policy made on Teesside for Teesside - so it is great we are now at the stage where official bids can be made.
“Teesside isn’t just in a great position to secure Freeport status, we can have the first, the biggest and the best Freeport in our region. It would be revolutionary for our amazing river businesses, our manufacturing and logistics plans for the Teesworks site, and of course all the exciting projects we have in the pipeline for Net Zero Teesside and offshore wind.
“Announcing Teesside as the UK’s first freeport will be crucial in this Government’s commitment to levelling up. In the last election, voters in the Tees Valley placed their faith in this Government, many for the first time, on the promise that investment would finally be coming their way, and that included a Freeport.
“Teesside is the perfect place to take a lead in post-Brexit international trade with the first Freeport in the UK. This would be a massive opportunity for our area and would help bring huge investment and jobs for local people in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, putting more money in their pockets for them and their families in the process.
“Announce Teesside as the UK’s first freeport and the Government will unleash potential that will be welcomed by local people for generations to come. We are ready to be first out of the blocks and to lead the way for the rest of the UK to follow.”
Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: “Our new Freeports will create national hubs for trade, innovation and commerce, levelling up communities across the UK, creating new jobs, and turbo-charging our economic recovery.
“As we embrace our new opportunities as an independent trading nation, we want to deliver lasting prosperity to the British people and Freeports will be key to delivering this.”
Robert Jenrick , Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said: “Our Freeports will be international centres for trade and investment, powering regeneration, job creation and entrepreneurship.
“I am delighted that ports, councils and their private sector partners can now apply for Freeport status – with all the special opportunities it will bring to their communities and the country.”