Teesside the first freeport to become operational in £3.2bn boost for North East economy

Mon 22 Nov 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News


Teesside Freeport became the first of the UK’s much-anticipated freeports to become operational since Chancellor Sunak confirmed their reintroduction in 2020.

The North East site is predicted to provide 18,000 jobs over the next five years with a focus on green energy, manufacturing, and innovation. It will be the biggest of the eight confirmed sites.

Local boost

According to the government, the port will generate £3.2bn for the local economy.

It has secured multimillion pound investment from GE Renewables to build a new offshore wind blade manufacturing plant with up to 750 manufacturing jobs and a further 1,500 roles in the supply chain.

Freedom to innovate

Minister for EU relations Lord Frost said leaving the EU had given Britain the freedom to set up new freeports to boost trade with the world’s fastest growing markets.

“As well as more freeports, we want to go further and faster to create a competitive, regulatory environment which supports innovation and boosts inward investment,” he said.


The government confirmed the first three freeports to become operational in the autumn budget, also including Humber and Thames.

Freeports benefit from a range of tax breaks and incentives, including National Insurance Contributions relief, capital allowances for buildings and machinery, and relief on stamp duty and business rates.

Local authorities will retain 100% of business rates growth generated by freeport tax sites for the next 25 years, reports the BBC. This can be invested in further regeneration in their area.


Teesside, which includes a former steelworks and coal-fired power plant, is Europe’s largest brownfield site.

Andy Koss of Sembcorp Industries, which manages the Wilton International complex on Teesside, told the Guardian there had been lots of inquiries about the site.

“Every plot of land we can develop here has at least one inquiry,” he said. “Some have more than one.”


Opinions differ on the likely effectiveness of freeports, with some critics suggesting they will simply move economic activity from one place to another.

Lewis Atter of KPMG, who advised on the creation of the Humber freeport, thinks the benefits will be bigger than the Treasury’s internal estimates, with growing interest as more information has been revealed about the freeports.

“We’re definitely seeing internationally mobile investors – not yet signed on the dotted line but close – linked to tax sites,” he said.

Other freeports

Other successful prospective freeports locations include:

  • East Midlands Airport
  • Felixstowe & Harwich
  • Liverpool City Region
  • Plymouth & South Devon
  • Solent