A freeport bid for the Tees region has been submitted to government.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen has submitted Teesside’s bid to establish the UK’s first and biggest freeport to government.
In developing the Tees freeport bid, mayor Houchen has worked closely with all five local councils along with local businesses that rely on the River Tees, as well as those across the region.
Mayor Houchen’s bid covers sites across the region, including Teesworks, Wilton International, Teesside International Airport, the Port of Middlesbrough, the Port of Hartlepool, Liberty Steel and LV Shipping.
Economic analysis carried out for the bid found that the Teesside freeport could create more than 18,000 skilled, good-quality, well paid jobs over the next 5 years.
Covering 4,500 acres, the equivalent of 2,550 football pitches, the Teesside freeport will be the biggest in the UK.
Areas given freeport status within the region would benefit from a wide package of tax reliefs, simplified customs procedures, streamlined planning processes to boost redevelopment and government support to promote regeneration and innovation.
The Tees freeport bid is designed to “turbo-charge” what the region already has a world-renowned reputation for excellence in, such as manufacturing, engineering, chemicals and processing.
It’s claimed the new free-trade zone would boost the local economy by £3.2billion and increase inward investment into Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool by over £1.4 billion.
Mayor Houchen said: “I’m delighted to finally be able to submit the Teesside freeport bid to government so that the people of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool can reap the benefits of these amazing free-trade zones.
“Make no mistake, the Teesside Freeport will absolutely be game changing for Teesside – it will turbo-charge the local economy over the coming years and create thousands of good-quality jobs for local people.
“These free-trade zones are not about reducing environmental protections or workers’ rights. Our bid builds on our region’s enviable global reputation as the go-to place when it comes to engineering, chemicals and processing. It will allow us to become a magnet for even more international investment and create opportunities to reshore manufacturing jobs that we haven’t seen in this country for decades.”
With bids for freeport status from around the country now submitted to government, an announcement on which areas have been successful in their bid could come as part of the Budget on March 3, with the first tax and customs incentives being in place as early as September.
Cllr Mary Lanigan, leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council, said: “A freeport would bring real and lasting prosperity to Redcar and Cleveland and provide jobs which will bring a better standard of living for many families.
“We have worked closely with our partners to ensure the people of our area would benefit from the freeport and that the prosperity it will bring feeds back into our local economy.
“Reaching this point is a key moment and we hope the government will recognise the huge potential for economic growth that we have in Redcar and Cleveland.
“We now look forward to working with everyone involved to make a great success of such a fantastic opportunity.”