Bidding process for Freeport status begins

Tuesday 17th November 2020

The bidding process for the establishment of new Freeports in the UK is now underway with the winners to be announced by next Spring and the first of 10 sites across the UK expected to be operating before the end of 2021. 

The objective is to create ‘national hubs for trade, innovation and commerce’ and designed to attract major domestic and international investment given the benefit from ‘a wide package of tax reliefs, simplified customs procedures, a streamlined planning process to boost redevelopment and government support to promote regeneration and innovation’ which Freeport status will bestow. 

For the fuller picture please read the bulletin below which was issued by Insider Media today. 

Roger Mundy, Managing Director, Beardsley Theobalds, 17th November 2020 



Freeports: Bidding process for hubs opens

The bidding process to establish new Freeports in England has opened with Chancellor Rishi Sunak saying they will create "national hubs for trade, innovation and commerce". The first sites are expected in 2021, as part of at least ten across the whole of the UK. 

Designed to attract major domestic and international investment, areas given Freeport status will benefit from a wide package of tax reliefs, simplified customs procedures, a streamlined planning processes to boost redevelopment and government support to promote regeneration and innovation. 

"Our new Freeports will create national hubs for trade, innovation and commerce, levelling up communities across the UK, creating new jobs, and turbo-charging our economic recovery," said Rishi Sunak. 

"As we embrace our new opportunities as an independent trading nation, we want to deliver lasting prosperity to the British people and Freeports will be key to delivering this." 

As part of a new customs model, a business can import goods into a Freeport without paying tariffs, process them into a final good and then either pay a tariff on goods sold into the domestic market, or export the final goods without paying UK tariffs. 

Areas given Freeport status will also benefit from a wide package of tax reliefs, including on purchasing land, constructing or renovating buildings, investing in new plant and machinery assets and on Employer National Insurance Contributions. 

Streamlined planning processes and government funding will also boost redevelopment and promote regeneration and innovation. 

The first Freeports will be open for business in 2021, and sea, air and rail ports from across England are encouraged to apply, working in tandem with their local leaders, businesses and others in their communities. 

Potential bidders have until 21 December to request clarification on anything in the prospectus covering the bidding process, with a summary of answers to be published online by the government. 

Proposals have to be submitted by 5 February. The winners are set to be determined by spring 2021. 

Insider is campaigning to back the various bids and provide an in-depth guide to the different locations, outlining what their credentials are and what the long-terms benefits to the economy will be. 

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick said: "Our Freeports will be international centres for trade and investment, powering regeneration, job creation and entrepreneurship. I am delighted that ports, councils and their private sector partners can now apply for Freeport status – with all the special opportunities it will bring to their communities and the country. 

The government is working constructively and collaboratively with the devolved administrations to establish at least one Freeport in each nation of the UK, in addition to those allocated in England. 

Richard Ballantyne, chief executive at British Ports Association, said: "The launch of the Freeports bidding process in England today represents a huge step forward in the establishment of fair and inclusive Freeports in the UK. 

"We are pleased that government recognises and supports ports as drivers of economic development and prosperity. Ports, and the wider maritime industry, are eager to play their part in the solution to national economic recovery and the regeneration of coastal communities. 

Tim Morris, chief executive at UK Major Ports Group, added: "Port operators all across the UK are developing ambitious proposals to respond to the Freeports opportunity. 

"The UK Major Ports Group and the port operators themselves look forward to working closely with the government to build ever stronger gateways for the UK’s global trade, boost prosperity for coastal and inland communities and maintain high standards." 

The UK Government is working with the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to develop appropriate Freeport allocation processes. 

These processes will be run jointly by the devolved administrations and the UK Government.