Plans for Freeport East being 'pushed forward' in 2022
- Credit: Warren Page
Further investment will be unlocked for a freeport in East Anglia during 2022 once the full business case is submitted to government, according to the acting chairman.
Plans for Freeport East - based around three tax sites in Felixstowe, Harwich and at Gateway 14 near Stowmarket - are moving forward and the new year promises to be an exciting and busy time for acting chairman George Kieffer.
It is estimated the freeport - which would open the door for big tax and other breaks for companies - would create around 13,500 jobs and secure up to £650million of investment for the region.
Freeports are exempt from import taxes on goods coming into the area which are not destined for the UK – effectively treating the area covered by the freeport as if it is not part of the country for tax purposes.
Mr Kieffer said: "As of December 30, we have now got our three tax sites approved. We are still waiting to hear on the customs sites we have included.
"The intention is that should at least one customs site approved and up and running before the full business case needs to be submitted to government in April.
"We have actually been talking to quite a number of people with a view to locating some of their activities on our three tax sites. That is ongoing.
"More importantly, we're about, probably next week, to go out to recruit the permanent chair and also a permanent chief executive.
"So that will ensure we have all our ducks in a row by the time our full business case is submitted to government, which will then unlock further investment.
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"That investment is required, particularly around Harwich, in order to bring forward Bathside Bay, which is by far our largest tax site in Freeport East."
Mr Kieffer also praised the region's local authorities and highlighted the importance of working with schools and further education colleges on the project.
"I'm really encouraged by the partnership working that the local authorities, in particular East Suffolk Council, have demonstrated. They all realise the importance and realise what this could mean for the local economy," he said.
"I'm also encouraged to be working with the universities on this. The universities more on the innovation side but also with the further education colleges because it's no good us starting there, we've got to start at the schools.
"We've got to show the students who are currently in secondary schools what the opportunities are at the freeport for work. That way, they can choose what further education courses to pursue in order to make them work ready."
Several government departments need to be involved for the project to be delivered, Mr Kieffer added.
"It's great to see an initiative like this being pushed forward and also to see government departments working together to address some of these issues because clearly it's not all down to Rishi Sunak and the Treasury," he added.
"In order to deliver this, we need the Department for Education, we need the Home Office, we need the Treasury, we need the Department for Transport and we need the Department for Business. They all need to be involved and behind it."