Business and education leaders believe freeport will be good news for the east

  • Watch Charlie Frost's video report

We have been looking at the potentially huge economic impact of the Chancellor's decision to grant Felixstowe and Harwich Freeport status.

It won't just include the ports, the status will extend to Colchester, Ipswich, Stowmarket and the surrounding area. It'll mean goods coming into the area, but not for the UK market, will be exempt from tax and customs rules.

As part of the move there are also plans to produce Hydrogen as an environmentally friendly fuel.

The sites for the eight freeports in England were revealed as part of the Chancellor's Budget yesterday.

Pledged in the Conservative Party 2019 manifesto, Rishi Sunak announced that East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, the Humber region, the Liverpool City Region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside are all set to benefit from the post-Brexit status.

Mr Sunak said the "special economic zones with different rules to make it easier and cheaper to do business" would come with simpler planning, cheaper customs - with favourable tariffs, VAT or duties - and lower taxes, with "tax breaks to encourage construction, private investment and job creation".

How does it work?

The freeport model works by allowing companies to import goods tariff-free and only paying once it is sold into the domestic market, or exporting the final goods without paying UK tariffs.

The people behind Freeport East claim it could create 13,500 new jobs providing employment opportunities in Harwich & Felixstowe area, attract £500 million of investment over the next 5 years & provide a £5.5bn economic boost over a 10 years.

Some of that investment will be spent creating the Gateway 14 Business Park in Stowmarket. If planning is approved, this Summer the building of 1 million sq ft of business space will begin.

The site of the proposed Gateway 14 business park

Likewise PortOne at Great Blakenham, a hub of warehouses with more to be built. this is home to companies that import products and sell straight to customers online

And they say being near a Freeport is a fantastic selling point when bringing new business in. 

But as well new e-commerce jobs, Freeport East will create new green jobs. As a new hydrogen hub is to be built by Sizewell nuclear power station.

The new hydrogen hub

It'll work by taking the low carbon electricity generated by wind farms off the East Anglian coast and at the power station. It'll then use this electricity to produce hydrogen by splitting water by electrolysis.

And the hydrogen will then be used to power buses, trucks, trains, farm machinery and ships.

Paving the way will require people with specialist skills, And determined to help local people develop these are the Colchester Institute They already have an Energy Skills campus in Harwich and now want to expand. 

It's hoped that the message conveyed by the new frepport will be that the east is very much open for business.