Thames Freeport has opened for business with the expectation that it will create 21,000 skilled jobs and attract £4.5bn of new investment to the area east of London.
The latest freeport, which the government says will “bring greater prosperity to some of the country’s most deprived communities”, covers a 34 km-wide economic corridor and is supported by a share of £200m of state funding to help develop the port area.
According to the government, Thames Freeport will be “a world class hub of innovation” and put the region at the forefront of the cutting-edge green sectors of the future, such as hydrogen technology, battery storage and electric vehicles.
A new Thames Freeport Skills Accelerator will bring industry together with local schools, colleges and universities to provide training and job opportunities for locals.
A range of financial incentives will be available for businesses to locate in the area, reports Politics.
Businesses setting up a new manufacturing, clean energy or logistics business can access the incentives, including business rates relief for five years, enhanced capital allowances, relief from stamp duty and exemption from employer national insurance contributions for new and additional employees.
Three sites at Ford Dagenham, the Port of Tilbury and London Gateway’s Logistics Park are ready for development.
The launch comes just weeks after the UK’s first freeport opened for business in Teesside, as covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update.
Teesside is predicted to create 18,000 new jobs and benefit the region by £3.2bn over the next five years.
Eight freeport locations in England were announced in the March budget. It is hoped that their package of incentives will help level up some of the more disadvantaged regions of the UK.
Some critics think they may simply move economic activity from one area to another rather that creating new investment.