Bid for Freeport providing 13,500 jobs and £650m economic boost to be submitted

A CGI showing how the new Port of Felixstowe Logistics Park could look. The logistics park is part of the plans for the...

A CGI showing how the new Port of Felixstowe Logistics Park could look. The logistics park is part of the plans for the Freeport - Credit: FREEPORT EAST

A bid for a Freeport which could create 13,500 jobs and bring over £500million to the region is to be submitted.

Freeport East, a partnership of business and local government in Suffolk and north Essex, is bidding for Felixstowe and Harwich to be made one of 10 Freeports in the UK — and one of seven in England.

Bids have to be submitted to government by noon today (February 5).

According to figures submitted as part of the bid, the Freeport could attract over £500million of investment to the East and be worth £650million to the UK as a whole.

A Freeport aims to drive economic growth by exempting goods coming into the area from taxes and tariffs, while also simplifying regulations for businesses in the area. 

The plans for Freeport East include development at both Felixstowe and Harwich ports, as well as the planned Gateway 14 site outside Stowmarket.

Bosses at the project expect government investments in improving the road and rail network would follow a successful bid. 

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George Kieffer, chairman of the project board, said: “Just as the sun rises in our region before it spreads across the UK, so Britain’s future starts at Freeport East.

“The key ports of Harwich and Felixstowe are already critical for overseas trade. But with a reliable supply of sites nearby to host innovation hubs, attract new businesses, and the base infrastructure which underpins these, Freeport East is clearly the government’s best choice for this designation.

“This is a golden opportunity for our towns, regions, and ultimately our country to prosper.”

Clemence Cheng, executive director of Hutchison Ports, which owns both Felixstowe and Harwich ports, added: “Freeport East is uniquely placed to deliver on the government’s objectives for Freeports, to provide hubs for global trade and investment, promote regeneration and create hotbeds for innovation. We connect exporters across the UK with markets worldwide and the economic benefits of our truly global Freeport will be felt in all regions.

“Working with our local councils, LEPs, partners and innovators we will deliver a green energy hub that will help deliver net-zero transport systems and complement sustainable developments in other regions.”

The Treasury is expected to announce which bids have been successful in the spring.

If successful, construction could begin on Freeport East projects within 18 months.