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Freeport East

Freeport East was one of eight new Freeports announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his budget speech.

Centred upon the Port of Felixstowe and Harwich International Port, both operated by Hutchison Ports (part of the CK Hutchison group) the partnership includes a strong public sector element including South East and New Anglia LEPs, Suffolk and Essex county councils, East Suffolk Council, Mid Suffolk, Babergh and Tendring District Councils. It is backed by a wide range of businesses, business organisations and education providers.

Reacting to the news George Kieffer, Chairman of the Freeport East Project Board, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen by the Chancellor as one of the first new Freeports in the UK for a number of years. Just as the sun rises in our region before it spreads across the UK, so Britain’s future starts at Freeport East.

“Freeport East offers a unique opportunity to build a truly global trade hub at the same time as accelerating opportunities in green energy and helping level-up the economy. We look forward to working with Government to further develop our business plan and to realising the potential that this opportunity represents.”

The Freeport East bid estimated 13,500 new jobs will be created in the area, while over the next five years Freeport East would attract more than £500million of investment and provided a £650m boost to the UK economy.

Freeport East can deliver on the nation’s strategic aims:

  • growing global trade, combining the UK’s largest deep-sea container port at Felixstowe with the short sea European gateway at Harwich;
  • being a hub for innovation, driving the Green Industrial Revolution by creating a new hydrogen hub and supporting development of offshore renewables; and
  • driving economic growth and opportunity for more deprived communities both close to the ports and – through its trade connections throughout the UK – across the country.

Clemence Cheng, Executive Director of Hutchison Ports, said: “Freeport East is the perfect location to develop a new Freeport. Its position on the main global shipping routes, and with frequent services over to Europe, makes it the ideal place to attract inward investment. It has 50% of the UK’s offshore wind capacity on its doorstep and, working with our partners we will help drive developments in green energy for use in the transport sector as well as across the wider economy.”

Felixstowe from Harwich HHA

Under the Freeport East submission, the benefits will spread out from the ports to other sites earmarked for development, such as Horsley Cross and Bathside Bay in Tendring, Great Blakenham, Gateway 14, the Parker and Anzani Avenue areas of Felixstowe and the Port of Felixstowe Logistics Park.

The announcement has also been welcomed by leading public sector figures further afield, such as Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor James Palmer who backed the bid despite it not extending to the area in recognition of the wider benefits it would bring to businesses and residents.

Freeport East is also already working with Ryse-Hydrogen and EDF, operators and developers of the nearby Sizewell nuclear power station, to develop a Hydrogen Hub.

Jo Bamford, Executive Chairman of Ryse-Hydrogen said: “The PM has said the UK will be ‘putting a big bet on hydrogen’ and the Budget’s green light for the Freeport East Hydrogen Hub is a major step towards delivering on these words.

“The Freeport East Hydrogen Hub will support the creation of thousands of green jobs and feature innovative uses in hydrogen for zero emissions buses, construction equipment, marine and agriculture. Crucially, these UK-made Net Zero technologies can be in use within 12 months and will place East Anglia at the forefront of the global hydrogen economy.”

Julia Pyke, Finance director of Sizewell C, added: “This is a great step forward for the East of England. The Freeport East Hydrogen Hub will deliver on six parts of the PM’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.

“The Chancellor’s commitment to Freeport East will now turbo-charge private investment in Net Zero nuclear and hydrogen technology across East Anglia and support the development of one of the world’s most exciting and innovative decarbonisation projects.

“We will now develop our hydrogen offering in close cooperation with the port and with the Suffolk councils in order to get national competitive advantage by pursuing things at scale and speed.”

More information about Freeport East can be found at its website, www.freeporteast.com, or by following @FreeportEast on Twitter.

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