A dynamic business and public sector partnership has lodged an innovative bid for the North East England Freeport, which economic experts have predicted would generate a £2.1 billion boost to UK exports.
More than 30,000 new jobs are expected to be created for the region plus a further 31,000 jobs will be generated in the construction industries and boost the local economy by £3.4bn over ten years.
The regional consortium formed to operate the North East England Freeport as a virtual free trade zone includes Nissan, the Ports of Tyne, Blyth and Sunderland, Newcastle Airport, seven local and two combined authorities, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), plus leading north east universities and innovation organisations.
The proposed Freeport would build on existing regional strengths to drive forward the North East clean growth industrial vision and drive exports and economic recovery.
It would become a national hub for global trade and investment, a hotbed for innovation, a catalyst for sustainable economic regeneration, while minimising barriers to trade in a post-Brexit UK.
The North East England Freeport will include three significant tax sites totalling approximately 600 hectares on which businesses will be able to receive a range of special incentives to invest and grow.
Martin Lawlor, CEO at the Port of Blyth, said: “This bid consortium offers unrivalled clean growth and manufacturing expertise, and we have the vision, ambition and experience to make this a flagship freeport the UK can be truly proud of.
“We are excited by both the innovation within our bid and the transformative impact our freeport will have on the region if we are successful.”
Matt Beeton, CEO at the Port of Tyne and Interim Chair of the North East England Freeport, said: “Our model offers an unrivalled, ‘best of all worlds’ approach, uniting the private and public sectors to provide the region with an exceptional opportunity to benefit from the levelling up potential of digitally enabled economic zones.
“Developing over 60,000 new jobs in the region and £3.4bn regional GVA is incredibly important and demonstrates that ports are a catalyst for future economic growth.”
Nick Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Newcastle International Airport, said: “Fast and frequent connections to growth markets are key to the success of the freeport and the advancement of the North East’s key business sectors.
“Air connectivity will strengthen the North East England Freeport proposition and will help to drive productivity improvements through logistics supply chains, with the ultimate aim of supporting the growth sectors in the region – from pharmaceuticals and life sciences to technology and advanced manufacturing.
“The Airport is delighted to play a role in the across-region partnership that will deliver this project.”
Lucy Winskell, Chair of the North East LEP, said: “The North East is a perfect candidate for a freeport given its trading pedigree, its capabilities in green industries and the challenges it faces.
“Our model is deeply collaborative and highly innovative.
“Our seaports, airport, businesses, universities and political leaders are working together to deliver a cutting edge, digitally enabled freeport which brings new growth across our region and regenerates many of the communities that need it most.”
Jamie Driscoll, Mayor of North of Tyne said: “The North East has always been a strong manufacturing and exporting region.
“We want to secure the future for our workers, our kids and our grandkids. This means developing our low carbon industries and building a green future.”