Freeport given formal approval by Government

The Government has given the East Midlands Freeport (EMF) formal approval to open for business.

As part of the announcement, space research centre Space Park Leicester (SPL) was also given the green light by the Government to become a customs site operator for EMF, bolstering the freeport’s focus on driving innovation and skills.

EMF is England’s only inland freeport with 533 hectares of development land at three sites – East Midlands Airport and Gateway Industrial Cluster (EMAGIC), East Midlands Intermodal Park (EMIP) and the Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station redevelopment site.

EMF, which proponents say is set to create thousands of new high quality jobs in the region and boost the East Midlands’ economy by £8.4bn, will also create trade hubs to drive the low carbon and renewable energy, advanced manufacturing and advanced logistics sectors as well as support investment in research and development.

The freeports model has three objectives for the Government – to establish national hubs for global trade and investment, create innovation hotbeds, and promote regeneration.

Formal Government approval enables businesses locating on the three EMF sites to have access to a range of special incentives. Tax benefits include a zero rate of secondary national insurance contributions for freeport employees, enhanced capital allowance for plant and machinery, enhanced structures and buildings allowance, and relief from both stamp duty land tax and business rates.

The approval will also release over £25m of seed capital funding to deliver infrastructure and investment projects including new roads, transport infrastructure and a Hydrogen Skills Academy.

Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison said: “The East Midlands has a thriving manufacturing sector and we want to capitalise on those strengths while also developing new green growth industries.

“The East Midlands Freeport, the only inland Freeport, is up and running and will bring high quality jobs, investment and trading opportunities for businesses in the region.

“This will help us deliver on our mission to grow the economy and level up right across the UK.

EMF chair, Nora Senior CBE, said: “Space Park Leicester is a trailblazing collaboration which is leading pioneering research and I’m delighted it’s on board with EMF. SPL has become the latest organisation to join an innovative, inland freeport designed to boost jobs and power the region’s economy. Securing a customs site operator was the final piece of the jigsaw for the freeport and means that EMF can now officially open for business and become fully operational.

“EMF is focused on green tech and innovation and teaming up with the space sector will only attract more businesses to make the freeport their home.”