Freeport East welcomed by Mayor James Palmer as ‘launchpad for the future’

Mayor James Palmer, who backed the proposal for two East Anglian ports, Felixstowe and Harwich, to be awarded freeport status, has welcomed Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement that the twin ‘Freeport East’ bid has been successful.

The Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough says the new enterprise hub, focussed on Suffolk’s Port of Felixstowe and Harwich International Port in Essex should be welcomed by businesses and residents in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire as a major magnet for domestic and international investment into the East Anglian region.

Freeport East is a public and private sector partnership. The new global freeport will perform as an enterprise hub, carrying out business inside the UK’s land border but with different customs rules applying, making it easier and cheaper to trade.

Although strict rules on the physical size of freeports meant Freeport East cannot at this stage include Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Mayor Palmer backed the bid because of the clear benefits for the whole area.

Mayor Palmer said: “It’s fantastic news that Freeport East has secured one of only eight allocations. It’s a huge boost for the East of England, a vote of confidence in our future prosperity. One of the strengths of the Freeport East bid was commitment to wider growth and real cutting-edge innovation of the type Cambridgeshire is a world leader in.

“With our strong, existing links to the proposed Freeport East area – along the A14 and our freight rail links too – we are ideally placed to contribute to, and benefit from, the expansion of trade and innovation this new status will bring about.”

In addition, it will massively strengthen the case for improvement and expansion of the Ely Railway Junction and further upgrades to the A14.

This is a launchpad for the future, for investment, and the most joined-up regional growth in many generations.”

About Freeport East

Freeport partnership:

The Freeport partnership includes Hutchison Ports UK, Harwich Haven Authority, Trinity House, Haven Gateway Partnership, New Anglia and South East Local Enterprise Partnerships, Suffolk and Essex County Councils, East Suffolk Council and Tendring District Council.

The agreed vision is:

A Global Freeport for the 21st Century, the combined strength and unrivalled size of Felixstowe and Harwich provides the perfect Gateway between Britain and the rest of the world. With its strong and unique transport connections, this Freeport gives as much benefit to the Midlands and Northern Powerhouse of the UK as it does to the East of England, through its unparalleled access to the wider world. Already the UK’s biggest container port, with deep sea and European Ro-Ro services, the Freeport will grow further through shovel-ready sites and an ongoing pipeline of land to become an innovation testbed for cutting-edge port technology and clean energy. Through its links with world-class research-intensive universities and global digital innovators, this Freeport will develop emission-free Smart Port benefits for all – enabling the UK to meet the Government’s carbon agenda for ports earlier than 2050, and becoming a leader on the world stage.

The Port of Felixstowe and Harwich International Port:

The Port of Felixstowe is the UK’s largest container port – accounting for 40% of container imports to and exports from the UK, handling 4 million TEUs each year – with excellent road links and the best rail connections of any port to the Midlands and the North of England.

Harwich International Port on the Essex side of the estuary is a major ferry terminal with twice daily services to the Netherlands and a dedicated passenger rail station with frequent services to London. Harwich is also the operations and maintenance base for the Galloper Windfarm, part of the Suffolk and North Essex Energy Coast, and Trinity House in Harwich is the research centre for the UK’s General Lighthouse Authorities.

The Government’s Freeports policy:

The government has confirmed bids for sea, air and rail ports in England to get Freeport status will be announced before the end of the year, with the government aiming for the first of the new sites to be open for business in 2021.

Freeports will benefit from:

  • streamlined planning processes to aid brownfield redevelopment
  • a package of tax reliefs to help drive jobs, growth and innovation
  • simplified customs procedures and duty suspensions on goods

Seizing on the opportunities presented by leaving the EU, Freeports will be created across the nation to help drive Britain’s post-Brexit growth.

Designed to attract major domestic and international investment, the hubs of enterprise will allow places to carry out business inside the UK’s land border but where different customs rules apply. They have been successfully used in countries around the world to drive prosperity and boost trade.

Read the Government’s Freeports consultation response at:

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