Meachers Global Logistics has hailed the creation of freeports at eight sites around England, saying Solent’s new status will create a much better environment for international trade.
The Chancellor announced plans for ports to become low tax zones in his Budget speech, saying they would create special economic sites, which would attract money and jobs.
The freeports include East Midlands airport; Felixstowe and Harwich; Hull; London Gateway and Solent.
Each zone includes a port and the zones can stretch as far as 25 miles, linking other areas in designated ‘tax sites’.
The Solent LEP, a partner in the freeport bid, said the proposal had the potential to attract £2bn investment and create 52,000 jobs.
Gary Whittle, Meachers’ commercial director, described the news as “fantastic”.
He said: “Many of our customers import into the UK and export goods around the world from the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth.
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“The proximity to these ports of our exceptional facilities has always been an asset to the business and we see the announcement as strategically important for us and our customers.
“The Freeport status granted today will make the Solent an even better environment for international trade and this is an exciting prospect for our business, customers and the wider industry.”
Thames Freeport is a digitally-linked economic zone, connecting Ford’s Dagenham plant and the ports at London Gateway and Tilbury and it said businesses could take advantage of the tax benefits of relocating: “The freeport policy’s special economic measures will turbocharge the best of the private sector, attracting value add manufacturing activity to the ports, the Thames estuary and the wider south east, alongside supporting key infrastructure projects in the coming years,” said Stuart Wallace, COO at Tilbury port owner, Forth Ports.
“The Thames Freeport will be that catalyst to level up the left behind communities along the estuary.”
AFC Energy, a hydrogen fuel cell company for EV charging solutions, also welcomed the news: “Freeports have the opportunity to become significant commercial centres for the UK, boosting inward investment, creating jobs and driving the country’s economic recovery,” said AFC Energy chief execuitve Adam Bond.
“As part of the government’s drive to ‘build back better’, we believe it is crucial that these freeports are developed in a sustainable way and capitalise on the opportunity to reduce GHG emissions by adopting zero-carbon technologies - particularly in port-side operations and the maritime sector as demanded by the UK’s Maritime 2050 Strategy.”