Teesport owners launch River Tees masterplan

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As a major UK port operator, PD Ports plays a critical role in managing the 483 million tonnes of cargo passing through UK waters each year, and is an important contributor to the £829bn-plus value delivered to the UK economy as a result.

Across its operations, the firm continues to invest heavily in the growth and development of the company’s UK-wide ports and logistics platforms, strengthening local and national economies, whilst supporting many thousands of jobs in the supply chain.

Alongside businesses and stakeholders, the Port of Tees and Hartlepool (Teesport) has attracted more than £1bn of direct and indirect investment to the Tees Valley in the last decade, creating more than 2,500 new jobs along the way. The development of new partnerships has resulted in winning major national projects including the MGT biomass power station and national distribution centres for global retailers Asda and Tesco.

During that time, the Middlesbrough-based port has transformed from a small North-East operation to one of the UK’s major container hubs.

This has been achieved despite enduring some of its darkest days including the global financial crisis in 2008 and the loss of SSI in 2015, notwithstanding the current challenges presented by Covid-19.

But, as the firm’s chief operating officer and vicechairman Jerry Hopkinson explains, PD Ports is a business with a long-term vision.

“Through the realisation of the Teesport masterplan, we aim to deliver material economic change and social betterment for not only the people of the Tees Valley but right across the Northern Powerhouse, aligned with the government’s plans to rebalance the national economic picture,” he says.

The port is the main artery that generates and supports investment, economic growth, job creation and prosperity for the Tees Valley. The contribution of the port and the industries that depend on it is in excess of £1bn GVA every year, accounting for around eight per cent of the region’s economy.

Middlesbrough was founded on river-related activity and that proud heritage remains as strong today with Teesport handling more than 28 million tonnes of cargo each year. The port and the industries that depend on it directly support over 5,500 jobs, with many more supported through supply chains.

The masterplan vision aims to propel Teesport as complementary components of a rebalanced UK economy, enhance the international competitiveness of the UK and Tees Valley and facilitate its continued growth.

As the custodians of the River Tees, Jerry highlights the critical role the many businesses operating along the waterway play in the future success of the area and the potential benefits freeport status could bring to the region.

He explains: “PD Ports is a longstanding supporter of freeports and we were delighted to welcome ministers to announce their plans last year.

“In June we submitted our response to the government’s consultation on freeports, which underlines the huge investment and jobs boost that a freeport located on the River Tees can deliver for the local and regional economy.

“We have also stressed how the right freeports model could turbocharge development opportunities at a number of sites located on both banks of the River Tees.

“An innovative and ambitious freeport could enable the whole Tees Valley to further capitalise on its strengths as a leading chemicals and manufacturing centre, increasing the potential for additional inward investment and creating thousands more jobs.”

This builds on the 32,000 jobs already identified by the Tees Valley Combined Authority in its response to the government’s consultation.

The response also highlights the region’s success in creating strong partnerships to attract new investment, including PD Ports’ track record of working alongside businesses and stakeholders to bring over £1bn of direct and indirect investment to the Tees Valley. This critical point reflects the government’s clear view that freeports should be founded on close collaboration between the private and public sectors.

Jerry continued: “Both ourselves and the Tees Valley Combined Authority have highlighted the transformative potential that freeport status offers and we’ve worked hard to see how we can bring that potential to reality.

“As the custodians of the River Tees, we share the ambition of both local and national government, our partners across the region and, most importantly, our fellow citizens in the Tees Valley to work together to use freeport status to win new investment, drive regeneration and create thousands of jobs here on Teesside.

“The River Tees is one of our region’s – and indeed the north of the UK’s – greatest assets, able to handle amongst the largest vessels in the world, offering state-of-the-art port facilities and infrastructure and thousands of acres of strategically located development land.

“Combined with the region’s leading research and technological capabilities, its highly skilled workforce and proud manufacturing traditions, there is, literally, nowhere else in the UK better equipped to make freeports a success and there are few places where the chance to secure regeneration would be more welcomed by its people.

“We’re calling on government to give the port and the region this opportunity and very much look forward to working together with the Tees Valley Combined Authority, Tees Valley mayor, businesses, our communities and other stakeholders throughout the region to secure this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”