Liverpool among first eight Freeports revealed by Chancellor

The Government has named the first eight Freeport locations around the UK – areas where it will be possible to carry out trade under different customs rules – including the Liverpool City Region’s bid.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in his Budget on Wednesday afternoon that Freeports will be established in Thames (including London Gateway Port and the Port of Tilbury), Liverpool City Region, Solent, East Midlands, Freeport East (Felixstowe and Harwich), Humber and Teeside.

Sunak described the areas as “taking a unique approach” to doing business.

Businesses located in the freeport sites will benefit from: An enhanced 10% rate of Structures and Buildings Allowance for constructing or renovating non-residential structures and buildings; an enhanced capital allowance of 100% for companies investing in plant and machinery for use in Freeport tax sites in Great Britain, once designated; full relief from Stamp Duty Land Tax on the purchase of land or property within Freeport tax sites in England, once designated; and full Business Rates relief in Freeport tax sites in England, once designated.

The Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and local business leaders have welcomed the announcement.

A Free Trade Zone for the City Region will contribute around £850m GVA and create 14,000 jobs, as well as lead on solutions to meet the region’s Net Zero Carbon targets for 2040.

The bid, submitted last month to government, had huge support from the private sector and was supported and formally endorsed by the Liverpool City Region LEP. It builds on the city region’s maritime history and unique position as a Western-facing port with established Transatlantic and Irish Sea trade links.

Asif Hamid, Liverpool City Region LEP chair, said: “This is a groundbreaking announcement for the city region. The multi-gateway, multi-modal Freeport will enable key sites across the Liverpool City Region to attract new investment, create jobs, support the wider economy and increase levels of innovation.

“It also has the potential for future opportunities in hydrogen, offshore wind and tidal power, ensuring our city region becomes a focal point of the Government’s Net Zero ambitions and a global beacon for investment in renewable technologies.”

The core opportunities of a Freeport Zone are:

  • Increase trade through the Port of Liverpool and other city region gateways, improving efficiency of flows and driving employment growth
  • Develop a globally significant cluster of port, manufacturing, logistics and innovation activity
  • Be a central tool in attracting inward investment
  • Regenerate areas of deprivation and create sustainable job creation
  • Make a significant contribution in rebalancing UK freight and logistics
  • Improve links to national, regional and city regional infrastructure assets
  • Support the enablement of national and local ambitions for Net Zero
  • The Freeport will be shaped to support the delivery of city region’s vision outlined in the Local Industrial Strategy and Economic Recovery Plan for a globally competitive, environmentally responsible, and socially inclusive city region

Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of trade body Mersey Maritime, said: “Our entire sector is over the moon with the announcement from the Chancellor this afternoon.

“As an industry we understand the incredible opportunity this project will present for our coastal community. Working with other key sectors in the region and our partners at the LEP, we couldn’t have asked for a better example of public private partnership coming together for the good of the region to drive jobs, growth and sustainability.”

Mark Whitworth, Peel Ports chief executive, said: “This will offer a much needed boost to the region, creating investment, regeneration and redevelopment opportunities, all of which, will have a positive impact on local economic growth.

Mark Whitworth

“Peel Ports are delighted to be part of the bid team. Our recent infrastructure investments provide a modern gateway for businesses in Northern England to trade globally, more efficiently and the tariff and tax benefits offered by Freeports make the port and city region a perfect choice through which to invest in and trade internationally.

“In turn, Freeport status will also bring new opportunities for local businesses, employment, apprenticeships and training to the region and we’re looking forward to further driving long term, sustainable growth for many generations to come.”

Anthony Hatton, director of strategic projects for Peel L&P, said: “We’re proud that our Wirral Waters and Port Salford developments have helped to strengthen the case (for a Freeport).

“Wirral Waters is a nationally significant regeneration site that will support manufacturing and, through the creation of a £23m Maritime Knowledge Hub, will be a focus for dedicated maritime and decarbonisation innovation.

“The inclusion of our Port Salford tri-modal freight facility and distribution park will provide an inland customs site with rail access to the Port of Liverpool and the West Coast Mainline.”

Roy Barry, partner and head of manufacturing and supply chain at independent law firm Brabners, said: “Now, more than ever, unlocking the potential of the North West feels critical to the future success of UK plc.

“Our ports, airports, manufacturers, landowners, property developers, building contractors, urban planners and logistics operators present an outstanding collective vehicle through which to drive prosperity in a post-Brexit landscape and support the Government’s pledge to level up the economy.

“As such, the decision to grant Liverpool Freeport status will accelerate investment and open up its hinterland across the North, providing opportunity for the region’s well-developed logistics clusters as well as the plethora of goods-based firms and manufacturers headquartered here.

“Put simply, it represents a significant vote of confidence in Liverpool and the wider North West to increase its international outlook post-Brexit.”

The proposed regeneration of Parkside colliery formed a key component of the Freeport bid, and Parkside Regeneration chairman John Downes said: “This will deliver a step change in the region’s economic output and strengthen its position as a global logistics hub.

“The port of Liverpool serves a huge hinterland stretching from the Midlands to the Scottish border and provides shipping routes worldwide.

“Parkside has the potential to deliver a major boost to the port’s capacity, creating thousands of valuable jobs for St Helens whilst regenerating a blighted former colliery.”