A NEW online survey aimed at decision-makers across the South of England has been launched by law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) to gain insights on how the Freeport will impact on their activities.

WBD has recently seen a surge in enquiries from clients and regional business groups keen to learn more about the opportunities and implications that Freeports will bring and how they can prepare.

The survey which will be carried out throughout April and May will measure business sentiment across a range of different sectors to find out how much businesses know about the benefits and opportunities that Freeports can offer. The law firm hopes to get an understanding of what businesses in the region are planning, as well as levels of awareness generally, so steps can be taken if necessary to help drive engagement with the process.

The UK-wide survey comes following the Government’s announcement in the Budget in March. The Chancellor confirmed the eight Freeport locations across the country, including the successful Solent bid, which the firm saluted, with Jon Hales, partner and head of WBD’s Southampton office, commenting:

“We were thrilled by the Government’s announcement to establish a Solent Freeport, which will create a new gateway for global markets, with world class connectivity. With the Port of Southampton already strategically placed on key international trade routes, our new Freeport status presents exciting opportunities to further leverage new investment into the UK, support the South East’s economic and social recovery and rebuild Britain post COVID-19.

“Freeports present a range of tax incentives, planning and other regulatory flexibilities that are designed to encourage businesses to open, expand and invest in the zone as well as promoting regeneration, creating centres of innovation and national hubs for global trade and investment.”

Peter Snaith, partner and head of manufacturing at WBD, adds: “Womble Bond Dickinson has been tracking the developments in relation to Freeports in the UK for several years and providing legal support and guidance to stakeholders in relation to the Teesside Freeport bid since the Government’s launch of the initiative.”

“We can see the potential for Freeports to strengthen the regions we operate in up and down the country. We represent all manner of clients who stand to benefit from Freeports in some way and our team is keen to help deliver the Government’s objectives for the country.”

“We represent many of the inward investors that have moved into the parts of the country where we have been based for many decades. Following the March Budget announcement and as an extension of the support we have been giving to businesses with respect to the challenges surrounding the import and export of goods following Brexit, we have had a surge in questions surrounding Freeports and free zones, particularly about the future effects this will have for businesses and what owners and managers located on or around the new Freeports should be doing to make the most of their situations.”

“We decided that a survey would be a great way of discovering business sentiment as it’s very clear to us that businesses need guidance and information around the process and how, for example, they can access certain similar benefits if they are not located within a Freeport customs site. There is, understandably, a lack of appreciation of the potential to which the positive effects of the new Freeports can extend to businesses that are not situated on one of the designated sites.”

The results of the survey will provide the team with key findings to compile a comprehensive report for businesses and also public bodies associated with Freeport bids that will provide industry opinion and guidance on next steps.

To complete the survey, follow the link here: