Solent freeport bid shortlisted in 2021 budget

Solent freeport bid shortlisted in 2021 budget Credit: ITV Meridian

The Solent's bid for Freeport status has been shortlisted by Government in the 2021 budget.

Freeports are special economic zones with different rules to make it easier and cheaper to do business.

The eight new 'Freeports' announced by the Chancellor:

  • Solent

  • Felixstowe and Harwich

  • East Midlands Airport

  • The Humber Region

  • Liverpool City Region

  • Plymouth

  • Thames

  • Teesside

Mr Sunak said the freeports will have "simpler planning", "cheaper customs, with favourable tariffs, VAT or duties", and lower taxes, with "tax breaks to encourage construction, private investment and job creation".

Solent LEP, which made the bid, said the proposal has the potential to attract £2billion investment and create 52,000 jobs; through opening the potential to bring tax reliefs, simplified customs procedures and streamlined planning processes to promote regeneration and innovation.

Chair of the Solent LEP, Brian Johnson said: “The Solent has a very proud maritime heritage, but we don’t live in the past. Today's announcement represents the start of a new era for the Solent as we begin our work with Government to create jobs, drive innovation and build sustainable, long-term opportunities now and in the future.

The wide coalition of public and private partners brought together by the LEP puts us in the strongest possible position to bring this vision for a Solent Freeport to reality.

As the Nation's Global Gateway, the Solent Freeport will be critical to ensuring that the UK can remain competitive on an international stage in the years ahead and the LEP is committed to ensuring that our local communities - and in particular our young people - can benefit from the opportunities created."

Councillor Barry Rickman, Solent LEP board member and leader of New Forest District Council said: “Today's announcement is fantastic news for the Solent area and our economy. As a coastal area, we have communities that have been very badly impacted by the pandemic and today's news represents an opportunity for us to start to recover and create much needed new jobs in those areas. 

Over the longer-term, we see the Solent Freeport as an investment in all our futures that will enable us to secure investment in new technologies, sectors and environmental innovation. We look forward to working with Government over the coming months to further develop the Solent Freeport for the benefit of our local businesses and communities."

The Solent LEP released a video celebrating the Solent gateway.