February 8, 2021 @ 8:27 by Richard Dawson
A business and public sector partnership has officially lodged a bid for the North East England Freeport, which experts believe could generate a £2.1 billion for UK exporters.
Government support for the proposal would see the North East England Freeport provide a collaborative opportunity for the whole region to thrive, boosting the local economy by more than £3.4 billion over 10 years and providing a gateway to long-term global competitiveness.
The North East England Freeport could create 30,000 jobs in the region and a further 31,000 in the construction industries.
The regional consortium formed to operate the freeport includes Nissan, the Ports of Tyne, Blyth and Sunderland, Newcastle Airport, seven local and two combined authorities, the North East LEP and a number of North East universities and organisations.
Analysis by freeport experts Vivid Economics, has found that a freeport in the North East would build on existing regional strengths and drive forward a clean growth industrial vision, boosting exports and the economic recovery.
This includes the well-established automotive and advanced manufacturing sectors, a growing clean energy industrial base incorporating offshore wind and renewables, and strengths in innovation, logistics and digital technologies.
Expected GVA per freeport worker is thought to be £110,000, while the total GVA uplift of securing freeport status would be £3000 per capita within the North East LEP area.
Approval could generate £2.7 billion in new regional private sector investment and £3.4 billion GVA across the whole region.
The North East England Freeport bid will include three significant tax sites totalling approximately 600 hectares on which businesses will be able to receive a range of special incentives to invest and grow.
They are located in some of the most deprived communities in the region and will create new jobs and supporting skills and employability programmes to ensure jobs are accessible to local people.
Matt Beeton, CEO at the Port of Tyne and interim chair of the North East England Freeport said: “Our model offers an unrivalled, ‘best of all worlds’ approach, uniting the private and public sectors to provide the region with an exceptional opportunity to benefit from the levelling up potential of digitally enabled economic zones.”
Nick Jones, chief executive of Newcastle International Airport, said: “Fast and frequent connections to growth markets are key to the success of the freeport and the advancement of the North East’s key business sectors.
“Air connectivity will strengthen the North East England Freeport proposition and will help to drive productivity improvements through logistics supply chains, with the ultimate aim of supporting the growth sectors in the region – from pharmaceuticals and life sciences to technology and advanced manufacturing.”
Martin Lawlor, CEO at the Port of Blyth, added: “This bid consortium offers unrivalled clean growth and manufacturing expertise, and we have the vision, ambition and experience to make this a flagship freeport the UK can be truly proud of.”