Freeport’s plans could create nearly 26,000 jobs and boost East Midlands by £ 8.4bn

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Another 30,000 indirect jobs are also estimated thanks to the project, helping to improve local supply chains and boost the region’s economy.

The East Midlands Freeport Board has submitted its business case to the government, detailing what two Nottinghamshire MPs described as an “extremely ambitious package”.

A “free port” is a low or zero tax zone, allowing businesses to import and export while avoiding tariffs and reducing bureaucracy.

East Midlands Airport is designated as a Freeport Hub.

The idea was created by the government to strengthen regional economies across England.

The East Midlands Freeport Board includes representatives from councils across the region, as well as universities and local business partnerships. The idea has been publicly supported by Conservative and Labor MPs.

Based at three sites in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire, the project is designed to create tens of thousands of jobs in sectors such as manufacturing, construction, distribution, logistics, transport and clean energy .

The public-private partnership will see more than £ 2 billion invested in the region initially, supporting the development of three anchor sites at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, East Midlands Airport and near Toyota Island in Derbyshire.

Earl Ben Bradley, Head of Nottinghamshire County Council and Member of Parliament for Mansfield.

All three sites are expected to become operational by March and will offer incentives to businesses in terms of tax levies, reduced import and export tariffs and reduced trade tariffs, which will make the creation of new jobs more affordable. .

A skills academy is also planned in the program, focusing on improving the skills of the East Midlands population in key industries to create highly skilled, well-paid and more productive jobs.

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Boosted jobs

Councilor Ben Bradley, Tory MP for Mansfield, said: “It is worth saying that there are a million people who live within half an hour’s drive of these sites, and that’s a lot. of people accessing these jobs and support.

“Each site has its own plan for getting people in and out of work, in terms of transportation, and when you start adding improvements to the Robin Hood line, the Toton-Chetwynd link road, you suddenly bring people from Mansfield at the Freeport sites. fast enough.

“It’s not just about the on-site jobs but the broader supply chain, half of the jobs will be created not at the sites themselves, but in the rest of the region.”

Ms Edwards, Tory MP for Rushcliffe, said the bid focused on the region’s ‘industrial strengths’ and would build on existing skills initiatives between universities and the private sector.

She said: “The good thing about the Freeport is that it plays to our strengths, with sites in Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

“It brought together the local government of the three counties, the public and private sectors, and it is really important that we work together to maximize the potential of the region.

One of the three sites will be based in Ms Edwards’ constituency, with the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power plant becoming a “clean energy hub”.

Loughborough-based Intelligent Energy is already planning to develop a renewable-energy hydrogen Gigafactory at the site, creating up to 1,000 skilled jobs.

The company is also committed to bringing its supply chain with it, it says creating thousands more jobs and making the region a “powerhouse for green manufacturing.”

The last detailed analysis by the project committee indicates that 55,220 direct and indirect roles will be created during the 25 years of the free port’s life. Meanwhile, the council’s plan estimates that the region’s economy will grow by £ 8.4bn.

‘Really positive’

All of these would be additional new jobs in the area, rather than existing roles moved to the sites – and articles suggest the Nottinghamshire site could benefit from the bulk of the new jobs.

But while Earl Bradley, Nottinghamshire Council leader, insisted that the jobs will not come “overnight”, he thinks that the global package is “really positive”.

The offer is part of a larger regeneration project planned across the East Midlands, hooked on four major projects: the Freeport, HS2, the East Midlands Development Corporation, and a possible decentralization package.

There have been recent doubts about the future of the eastern part of HS2, but Mr Bradley is confident Toton will be included in the next integrated rail plan.

He says the freeport is “interdependent, not dependent” on HS2, with plans to deliver the freeport regardless of the outcome of the rail project.

But he said the infrastructure surrounding HS2 and the free port, and the travel plans associated with the bid, will bring people from all corners of the region closer to accessing the benefits of the projects.

It is hoped that the plans will significantly improve the economy of the East Midlands – the region currently receives the lowest level of government investment per capita in the country.

However, concerns have been voiced by the UK think tank in a Changing Europe, which fears that the freeport plans will displace jobs rather than create new ones, and may not be a “solution”. miracle ”to repair local economies.

Following the approval of the business case, the full freeport plan is expected to be tabled in November before an estimated government approval in December or January.

The plan was well received by the East Midlands House.

Scott Knowles, managing director, said; “We are very happy to see these plans for the Freeport, which illustrate the enormous benefits it will bring to the East Midlands economy and the confidence it will give businesses as we return to normalcy.

“Our region already has fantastic national and international trade links – something highlighted during the pandemic – and the free port status means we can cement our role at the center of Britain’s global trade relations post Brexit.

“We are uniquely positioned as the only inland free port among the 10 designated areas, demonstrating the reputation of East Midlands Airport as the country’s leading international cargo carrier and catalyst for the explosive growth of which we have witnessed in the logistics of our region. sector in recent years.

“This free trade area, which will focus on innovation, low carbon emissions and trade, points the way forward for the East Midlands economy – giving investors something tangible to support in order to to generate foreign investment and jobs that will allow growth.

“For our workforce, this will provide much-needed new opportunities for highly skilled, well-paid and more productive jobs.

“We are particularly drawn to the prospect of a skills academy.


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