Posted by Colin Weston at 01/02/2021 11:25:19
The Humber’s freeport bid, carrying with it hopes of thousands of jobs and millions of pounds of investment, will be sent to Whitehall this week.
Regional businesses have joined forces with the four local authorities and two enterprise partnerships to assemble the “most compelling bid for freeport status that the UK government will get to consider”.
It features custom zones locations across the patch - including the four main ports - with three new tax sites highlighted for land east of Port of Hull, Goole and Able Marine Energy Park at North Killingholme.
Those behind the bid’s steering committee, chaired by Associated British Ports’ Humber director, Simon Bird, said it will act as a catalyst to accelerate growth in debarbonisation and offshore wind operations, maintenance and manufacturing.
Mr Bird said: “This is a hugely exciting bid. The Humber Freeport will not only unlock economic growth in our area, but the benefits will be felt well beyond into most Yorkshire and much of the Midlands. Growth will be focused on business that will help us to decarbonise our economy and create a green and sustainable economy for the future.”
The region is already home to the UK’s busiest ports complex in Immingham, with the Humber combined handling around 17 per cent of the nation’s trade. Within that it is a gateway for materials that fuel 10 per cent of the nation’s energy and 25 per cent of the UK’s vehicles. It also welcomes almost a third of our national timber supply and underpins the farming, food, retail, construction, automotive and pharmaceutical sectors.
Those behind the bid said an agreement has been reached to complement tax sites by targeting significant seed capital resources to ensure the benefits of freeport status is felt across all four Humber local authority areas, including at the South Humber Industrial Investment Project site between Grimsby and Immingham.
Pioneer Park, a new industrial estate is just emerging, with EV specialist MyEnergi literally leading the charge, while green jet fuel developer Velocys has also secured planning consent for a new refinery.
Further details as to exactly what constitutes the entire bid are anticipated in the coming days.
Cllr Philip Jackson, leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, said “I believe we have pulled together a compelling bid for supporting sites across the Humber that will be truly transformational, and provide long-term opportunities for jobs and growth. In North East Lincolnshire, it means that we’ll be able to maintain the momentum demonstrated in recent years across some of our most important economic sites.”
Cllr Stephen Brady, Leader of Hull City Council, said: “The Humber has set out a very strong case for freeport status that will be crucial to our region’s future prosperity and growth. A successful bid will ensure that Hull is well placed to continue to attract the high levels of investment and quality jobs we’ve delivered over recent years, particularly in the low carbon economy.”
It is seen as securing significant inward investment from blue-chip multinationals with the potential to attract and drive both supply chain and innovation eco-structures.
The potential to tap into labour from Leeds east also has those on the Humber Ports Steerco purring that “no other part of the UK can boast the unique combination of an existing pivotal role in UK trade and energy supply with the potential to level-up and tackle deprivation and decarbonise our economy through the growth of green jobs”.
Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers, who sits as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Freeports, added “I have long been an advocate of freeport status for the Humber which is home to the largest port complex in the UK. As both an MP in the region and chair of the APPG, I am convinced that the Humber presents one of the strongest and most obvious candidates for this designation.
“Post-Brexit, freeports represent a game-changing policy to target investment and increase employment in parts of the country that need it most. ABP have developed a fantastic bid to build on the great work that is already taking place in the Humber and I am pleased that it has received widespread support locally.”
Henri Murrison, Northern Powerhouse Partnership director said: “The Humber is home to a number of the UK’s most critical ports, ensuring vital sectors like renewable energy can continue working to power the nation. Its future is dependent on remaining globally competitive as a destination for inward investment, and becoming a freeport will make a significant difference in the work to achieve Net Zero as a nation by leading the agenda.
“The Northern Powerhouse, from communities in West Yorkshire, the Sheffield City Region and north of Lincolnshire will see the jobs benefits, and wider work to drive up productivity will give a credible economic uplift to contribute to closing the North – South divide.”