3 Mar

East Midlands Freeport given green light for take-off!

East Midlands Airport Cargo operations

The East Midlands received a major economic boost today with the government's announcement that it will be one of eight new Freeports in England, creating an estimated 60,000 new skilled jobs for the region.

Today’s 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, Unipers 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 last month by a consortium led by the Local Enterprise Partnerships representing Leicester, Leicestershire, Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. 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.

Kevin Harris is Chair of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited Board of Directors. He said:

“This is fantastic news for the East Midlands as the Freeport will drive our region’s economic prosperity for years to come.

“It represents an opportunity to attract international investment, capitalise on our key strengths and increase jobs and exports across key industries.

“The benefit to businesses will be streamlined planning, tax relief and simplified customs procedures that will support their growth, and in turn, local communities will benefit from additional employment opportunities and better infrastructure; both of which are targeted at improving people’s livelihoods.”

Clare James, East Midlands Airport’s Managing Director and LLEP Board 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’.”

Nick Rushton, Leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: 

“This is great news and a real boom for the East Midlands. Creating thousands of much-needed jobs and advancing our position as a green technology trailblazer would certainly help the region’s economy to bounce back and expand. This is a once-in-lifetime opportunity to put the East Midlands on the map and I’m pleased the Government has recognised the bid’s potential.”

Councillor Richard Blunt, Leader of North West Leicestershire District Council, said:

“Today’s news is very welcome – a freeport in the East Midlands is really exciting opportunity for North West Leicestershire with huge potential to support the economic recovery and growth of the area.

“How we rebuild our local economy after the Covid-19 pandemic will be key to the long term to prosperity of our district, so to see the Freeport plans receive Government backing is a real positive. North West Leicestershire is proud to be a green district with ambitious Zero Carbon plans and it’s good to see the freeport bid also acknowledge its desire to be forward thinking in its decarbonisation and green ambitions.

“As the local planning authority, North West Leicestershire District Council will take a key role in determining future planning applications for the freeport and so we keep an open mind on the proposals and look forward to seeing them develop.”

Andrew Bridgen, Member of Parliament for North West Leicestershire, said:

“This is fantastic news from the Chancellor for both North West Leicestershire and the wider region. This will attract investment, spur local and regional economic growth and enhance international trade. The freeport will bring tens of thousands of new jobs and improved local infrastructure as the Government rolls out its levelling up agenda.”

Councillor Jonathan Morgan, Leader of Charnwood Borough Council and LLEP Board Director, said:

“I welcome this significant boost to the East Midlands and look forward to seeing it help kick start a region-wide regeneration.

“This is also great news for Charnwood. I am sure residents and businesses will welcome the jobs being created, the investment in the area and the opportunities that the Freeport will bring.”

Jane Hunt, Member of Parliament for Loughborough, said:

“I am thrilled that the East Midlands has been chosen as the location for a Freeport. It will capitalise on our geographic location and will further support our world class facilities such as East Midlands Airport, the Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park and Charnwood Campus, the Life Sciences Opportunity Zone.

“Businesses large and small will be able to take advantage of the Freeport and thousands of jobs will be the result for the people of Loughborough. This will be all the more important in the months and years ahead as we come out of the Covid pandemic.”

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.”

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 8 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 eight 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.”