Plymouth & South Devon Awarded Freeport Status

Friday 5th March 2021

In 2020 the government consulted on proposals to create a number of Freeports in the U.K. It was decided that a Freeport would be a geographic area with a diameter of up to 45km which is closely linked to a sea, air or rail port. In his Budget Statement this week the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced the initial 7 ‘winners’ from the bidding process which included Plymouth & South Devon whose successful bid was made by Plymouth City Council in partnership with Devon County Council, South Hams District Council and the Heart of the South West LEP. With the government set to introduce a range of very beneficial measures for Freeports relating to such as customs, tax reliefs, planning, regeneration funding and innovation this will attract significant investment into the Plymouth & South Devon Freeport area which in turn will create opportunities, jobs and job security.

For further information on this subject please read the bulletin below which was issued by Insider News Media today.

Roger Mundy, Managing Director, Beardsley Theobalds, 5th March 2021




The establishment of a Freeport is set to unlock millions of pounds of funding for Plymouth and across the wider South Devon area, with more than £100m of investment forceast in the next six years.

The successful bid was made by Plymouth City Council in partnership with Devon Country and South Hams District Council as well as the Heart of the South West LEP.

The freezone will include sites at Devonport South Yard, Langage Energy Zone and Sherford Business Park.

The Plymouth and South Devon freezone aims to create space for businesses to import goods and materials, add value to them (by manufacture), and export them and leverage Plymouth’s marine innovation strengths to attract big marine sector tech companies.  Industry giants Babcock and Princess Yachts have already backed the bid.

High tech marine innovation with a focus on carbon zero technology was a key committment of the bid. Up to 1,000 new jobs could be created in the first two years and up to 9,000 over the next ten years and 50 new apprenticeships and 10 internships every year by 2027. More than 70 local businesses are expected to benefit from the scheme.

Princess Yachts was part of the team that helped secure Freeport status and said it was an "excellent example of the public and private sector collaborating in a combined effort for the benefit of the city and the wider South West Region as a whole". 

Councillor Tudor Evans, leader of Plymouth City Council, said: "This is a big deal with big numbers. While we are waiting for the detail I am beyond chuffed that our thriving marine sector has been recognised as a strength and something to build on. 

"It also shows that working with our neighbouring colleagues pays off. Bottom line this means jobs, job security, opportunities and significant investment.

“We are calling our Freeport a freezone because it is about much more than a port. This will benefit a lot of people across this area."

Devon County Council's Cabinet member for economy, Rufus Gilbert, added: "With the success of the vaccination programme and the Chancellor's support for Devon's vital tourism and hospitality businesses, it is really important that we join together to drive economic recovery.

"The Freeport will help level up the regional economy and provide good jobs for local people as well as welcome apprentice opportunities for our young people."

Cllr Judy Pearce, leader of South Hams District Council, said: "This is great news for us in South Hams because it could bring thousands of jobs and millions of pound of investment to our doorstep."

Adrian Bratt, general counsel and company secretary at Princess Yachts, said: "With this successful bid, Plymouth is leading the way for the whole region and is showing that meaningful partnerships can really deliver in the levelling up agenda.

"Princess Yachts employs over 3,000 staff in the city and exports to over 100 countries, we will continue to work with the City Council and all other stakeholders to maximise the opportunities that Freeport status provides."

The bid was based on three strategic pillars - marine and defence innovation, manufacturing and light processing, warehousing and staged imports.

Once the councils have more details from the Government about their model, they will be working up a more detailed business case. If all goes to plan the Freezone could be up and running by summer of next year.