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The government received around 40 bids for freeport status ahead of last week’s deadline on Friday (5 February).

Applications are thought to have come from port authorities in Dover, Southampton, Felixstowe and Harwich, London Gateway and Port of Tilbury, Hull, Port of Tyne, Teesport, Bristol, Milford Haven and Grangemouth, among others. 

The FT reports that at least two UK airports – East Midlands, and Bournemouth International – may also have bid.

Favourable customs duties

The government committed to setting up ten freeports earlier this year but has indicated that this figure is not set in stone and that there could be more.

Decisions on winning bids are expected to be announced in spring this year.

Benefits of freeports include:

  • favourable customs duties
  • suspension of VAT
  • business rates relief
  • zero national insurance contributions
  • enhanced capital allowances
  • simplified planning and development rules
  • stamp duty reliefs

Thames Freeport

According to Multimodal, DP World and Forth Ports made a joint bid to bring together London Gateway, the Port of Tilbury and Ford’s Dagenham engine plant in a combined Thames Freeport.

Backed by a coalition including the City Corporation of London, Essex Chamber of Commerce, London First and the Port of London Authority, it is claimed the Thames Freeport will “drive innovation and transformational productivity gains by growing regional clusters in next generation logistics, automation, clean growth and advanced manufacturing”.

Teesside bid

On Teesside, PD Ports is committed to delivering a successful freeport bid that maximises new jobs and investment opportunities throughout the Tees Valley, Multimodal also reports.

The bid has brought together input from more than 100 groups to produce a bid that promises thousands of jobs.