Port of Blyth & Partners Launch Landmark Freeport Bid

North East England Freeport

A dynamic business and public sector partnership based in the UK’s leading export region, including the Port of Blyth, has lodged an exciting and innovative bid for the North East England Freeport, which economic experts have predicted would generate a £2.1 billion boost to UK exports, plus many other significant benefits.

If successful, the North East England Freeport will provide a uniquely ambitious and collaborative opportunity for the whole region to thrive, boosting the local economy by over £3.4 billion over 10 years and providing a gateway to long term global competitiveness. Through the North East England Freeport, over 30,000 new jobs are expected to be created for the region, of which 12,780 are highly paid ‘better’ jobs. A further 30,895 jobs will be generated in the construction industries.

In addition to the Port of Blyth, the regional consortium formed to operate the North East England Freeport as a virtual free trade zone includes Nissan, the Ports of Tyne and Sunderland, Newcastle Airport, seven local and two combined authorities, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, plus leading north east universities and innovation organisations. All the sites involved will be inter-connected and protected using a state of the art, cybersecure perimeter.

Economic analysis completed by freeport experts Vivid Economics, has highlighted how the North East England Freeport will build on existing regional strengths. This includes the well-established automotive and advanced manufacturing sectors, a growing clean energy industrial base including offshore wind and renewables, and strengths in innovation, logistics and digital technologies. The world’s largest offshore windfarm will soon be operating from the Port of Tyne.

Data compiled by consortium members and validated by Vivid Economics demonstrates that the North East England Freeport would deliver outstanding economic benefits to the region. These include:

  • 61,458 new jobs across the construction, manufacturing, logistics, energy, innovation and business sectors
  • £3.4 billion GVA across the local region
  • Expected GVA of £110,000 per freeport worker, with median earnings of freeport workers 40-62% higher than current regional levels across all sectors
  • Total GVA uplift of c£3,000 per capita within the north east region
  • £2.7 billion in new regional private sector investment
  • £2.1 billion additional UK exports over 10 years
  • North East England Freeport would be Net Zero by 2030.

By generating tens of thousands more and better jobs, the North East England Freeport will become a national hub for global trade and investment, a hotbed for innovation, a catalyst for sustainable economic regeneration, while minimising barriers to trade. Each site in the freeport bid consortium will contribute to realise a best-in-class offering that will drive investment and deliver a high impact, post-Brexit economic boost that fully exploits the North East’s unique abilities in advanced manufacturing, life sciences, digital, clean energy and business services.

Crucially, the North East England Freeport will provide a bold blueprint for growth, comprising of a multi-site, digitally connected and enabled cybersecure boundary area, with robust customs zones.  This will enable the North East region’s key clusters to manufacture goods cost efficiently and trade internationally, benefiting from tax advantaged policy to stimulate economic development. It will contribute to levelling up in one of the areas of the country where it is needed the most.

The North East England Freeport will include significant tax sites of approximately 600 hectares on which businesses will be able to receive a range of special incentives to invest and grow. The activity from these businesses will generate benefits across the region.

Martin Lawlor, Chief Executive at the Port of Blyth said, “This bid consortium offers unrivalled clean growth and manufacturing expertise, and we have the vision, ambition and experience and 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 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 Local Enterprise Partnership 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 had strong international trading relationships.  We are excited to support the Freeport proposition which will continue this tradition. It will underpin our ambition to become one of the leading regions for clean growth and low-carbon, whilst creating thousands of jobs.”