The Solent Freeport proposal offers a ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity to level-up local communities, turbocharge post-Brexit trade and invest in a net zero future, say partners behind an ambitious bid for Freeport status.

Bid partners estimate Freeport status will create more than 50,000 jobs and attract £2 billion in extra investment.

The Solent Freeport proposal aims to secure a range of tax and customs sites across the area. Working with the area’s world-class universities and research institutions, the Solent Freeport will cement the area’s status as a hotbed of innovation, pioneering advances in high growth sectors.

Gary Whittle, Commercial Director, Meachers Global Logistics and Vice Chair of Business South’s Transport & Maritime Action Group, said:

“The Chancellor’s announcement in his 2021 budget, giving the go-ahead to Solent Freeport, is fantastic news for business in the region. Many of our customers import to the UK and export goods around the world from the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth.

“The proximity of these ports to our exceptional warehousing and transport facilities has always been a major asset to the business, so we see this announcement as strategically important.

“The Freeport status granted to the Solent will make the region a world-class environment for international trade. This is an exciting prospect for our business, customers and the wider industry.“

Solent LEP Chair Brian Johnson said: “ Like many coastal communities, parts of our region have long-standing challenges to address deprivation and the pandemic has affected these communities more than most. Freeport status will enable us to create more than 50,000 jobs, many of them at major new employment sites that will ensure all parts of our area can benefit from the prosperity new trading relationships will bring.

“This is an opportunity for us to invest in all of our futures and we are committed to ensuring the strongest platform possible for a sustainable recovery. We have already made great progress supporting environmental innovation, including investment in a new, world leading zero emissions facility for cruise vessels in Southampton and Centre for Enzyme Innovation to develop green solutions for the breakdown of plastics in Portsmouth. Freeport status will act as a catalyst to help us take even more strides forward on innovation, job creation and green growth.”