In the Spring Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed the locations of eight of the 10 new freeports in England.
They will be located at the Solent, East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, the Humber region, the Liverpool City Region, Plymouth and Thames and Teesside, with a further two to be announced. Those also bidding for freeport status include Southampton, Dover and Bristol.
The freeports, which can be up to 27 miles across, will benefit from import and export tax reliefs with the aim of helping create jobs, growth and innovation. The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership says its plan could generate 50,000 jobs, more than half of them in the Solent area, in sectors including maritime, science and research, logistics and defence. The new freeports will begin operations from late 2021.
The UK previously had seven freeports between 1984 and 2012, and it is hoped that bringing them back will help regenerate deprived areas and bring economic opportunities to poorer regions and ‘level up’ the country. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to announce their own freeport initiatives.