Tees Talk: freeport hailed for jobs, inward investment and regeneration

On a day of good news for the Tees region, the freeport won many of the headlines. Business leaders from PD Ports, AV Dawson, Sembcorp and Womble Bond Dickinson give their views on what it will mean for Teesside.

Jerry Hopkinson, chief operating officer and vice chairman, PD Ports

As the Statutory Harbour Authority for the River Tees, we are delighted that the government has awarded our region this opportunity and are now looking forward to continuing to work closely with them to maximise the benefits this will bring to our region.

This marks the beginning of a new chapter in the Tees Valley’s renaissance – Freeport status will enable us at PD Ports to build on our successful track record of attracting investment and delivering real, sustainable jobs across the region for the region.

The River Tees is a national asset for trade and our newly found freeport status will further help us to unlock its full potential and deliver the prosperity this region deserves.

Gary Dawson, managing director, AV Dawson’s Port of Middlesbrough

The announcement that Teesside has been successful in its bid to become one of the first freeports is fantastic news for our region. The delivery of this ambitious bid is a testament to the Tees Valley Combined Authority, Tees Valley mayor and the statutory harbour authority, PD Ports, working together with river users and other key stakeholders, to produce a strong and compelling argument to bring a freeport to the Tees Valley.

With our Port of Middlesbrough site being a designated area of the new freeport zone, we believe this will enable us to better compete within international markets and attract more business to the region. We also believe the freeport will bring exciting opportunities and potential inward investment to the wider Tees Valley.

This announcement illustrates the government’s commitment to delivering on its levelling up agenda and will build on the already growing momentum in the Tees Valley, bringing further jobs growth and prosperity, propelling the region forward.

Andy Koss, CEO, Sembcorp Energy UK, Wilton International

We’re delighted with today’s news. A freeport on Teesside will promote regeneration in the region and will be an excellent spur to sustainable inward investment and job creation.

Teesside has a long association with the chemical sector and we know that this creates highly skilled roles, generates significant value for the UK and helps to develop supply chains for the region.

At Sembcorp Energy UK, we have development land available and an established “plug and play” infrastructure, enabling the benefits of a freeport zone to be realised quickly as new investors will have the utilities they need as soon as they are operational. We will continue to work with our partners in the region to make this a success.

We also believe that this announcement will support a transition to a low carbon economy and our own plans and those of our existing customers to decarbonise our operations, as Teesside is also well placed to deliver on the Government’s Net Zero targets.

Peter Snaith, partner and head of manufacturing, Womble Bond Dickinson

We warmly welcome the government’s decision to establish a freeport on Teesside. This is excellent news for our region. It will provide a vital boost to the on-going regeneration of the area and also support the region’s post Covid-19 economic and social recovery.

It is encouraging that the government recognises the obvious strength of the Teesside bid as a front-runner in the process and the potential of a freeport in the Tees Valley to deliver the government’s objectives at pace.

In his report on the freeports opportunity back in 2016, Rishi Sunak referred to Teesport and our local industry as a case study to outline the benefits that freeports can deliver for the UK. We are delighted to see that we are now being handed the opportunity to use this new initiative to realise the full potential for our region and to embark on the journey towards the next renaissance for the Tees Valley.

The government’s model for a UK freeport will undoubtedly help to secure a sustainable future for the world class industries that have existed on Teesside for decades and it will help to attract further inward investment, but this is not just about our chemicals and process industries. A local freeport can provide the seed bed for new technologies and fresh opportunities for generations to come.

We are proud to have played our part in bringing the stakeholders in the Teesside bid together and in helping to motivate our community to grasp this opportunity. We are excited by the prospect of what is to come.

We have a privileged position, representing a broad cross-section of the stakeholders in our new freeport. We will now work even harder to support those entities that need to work in coalition to ensure the vision for our region becomes a reality.