Consortium backs North East freeport bid

A consortium of businesses and organisations has come together to back the North East England Freeport bid.

Two North East Freeport proposals were drawn up and submitted in February – one lined up for a site in Teesside and the other a virtual free trade zone which could create 60,000 jobs.

A letter outlining the benefits of the virtual trade zone has been sent to Chancellor Rishi Sunak ahead of his Budget on Wednesday (3 March). It noted that a number of North East Freeport sites are "located in some of the region's most deprived areas, still scarred from previous industrial change".

"The Freeport will re-ignite these communities, stimulating £2.7bn private and public sector investment, creating new green jobs and employability programmes to ensure these jobs are accessible to local people," it added.

"Of these new roles, 13,000 will be in higher skilled better jobs.

"Our Freeport proposal will also drive innovation, boost trade and deliver growth in our world-leading clean energy, advanced manufacturing and automotive clusters, in turn creating new opportunities for our digital sector and wider innovation community.

"It will stimulate new investment and accessible employment in some of the most deprived communities in our region." The letter pointed out that the possibility of having a Freeport in the area has "already attracted interest from Britishvolt to establish the world's greenest battery making facility in Northumberland and create 8,000 jobs".

"The Freeport would house the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), a nationally significant infrastructure project bringing together Sunderland and South Tyneside, adjacent to Nissan," it said.

The bid notes that any Freeport would also house three ports, those being Blyth, Tyne and Sunderland.

"Cross-party MPs have supported this proposal, we fully back this bid and are asking you, as Chancellor, to back our region through the creation of a North East England Freeport."