Categories: NewsletterPublished On: 25.05.2021515 words2.6 min read

Next generation logistics, new jobs, innovation, automation, clean growth, advanced manufacturing – the prospects for a Thames Freeport are exciting.

DP World and Forth Ports announced their Thames Freeport proposals in August 2020, well in advance of the Government formally opening the competitive bidding process to develop Freeports as part of the post-Brexit economy.  Just seven months later, the Thames Freeport was one of eight freeports to be designated in England.

The Thames Freeport incorporates DP World London Gateway, the Port of Tilbury and Ford’s Dagenham engine plant. The plans are supported by the PLA as well as the Barking and Dagenham Council, the City Corporation of London, Essex Chamber of Commerce, London First, the Thames Estuary Growth Board, Thurrock Council and the South East LEP.

With a network of global and European shipping connections, excellent road, rail and river distribution networks, and unrivalled first-hand expertise in operating freeports, the Thurrock-based combined port and logistics cluster has the scale to grow the associated aerospace, automotive and many complex manufacturing and processing businesses along the Thames, say DP World and Forth Ports.

The freeport will act as a job creation and high-quality development catalyst in an area of severe deprivation and economic need. Both ports have consented development land that is available for expansion now, with the aim to improve the opportunities for skilled jobs, bringing prosperity to the residents of Thurrock and beyond.

The Thames Freeport bid is aligned with priority targets such as levelling up deprived communities’ opportunities, focusing on skills and training and driving low carbon technology innovation.

The proposals also sit well alongside the PLA’s Thames Vision and the Thames Estuary Growth Board’s ‘Green Blue’ action plan which seeks to boost the local economy and unlock the regeneration potential of the estuary.

Kate Willard, chair of the Thames Estuary Growth Board, said: “I am delighted with the pace, intent and scope of the Thames Freeport. This draws together and builds on the strengths of the estuary. The areas where the growth board is already innovating, for example around hydrogen, will see the clean, green innovation embedded at its heart, something which will make a difference to communities in terms of both quality of life and employment opportunity.”

Parts of the estuary – from the communities of Dagenham to Tilbury – are in urgent need of support. The vision for a Thames Freeport is for the cluster to unlock new, better paid jobs to boost regional prosperity and social mobility by prioritising continuous infrastructure improvement, innovation and 21st century skills development.

“The Port of Tilbury and London Gateway are already the most integrated logistics hubs in the UK, harnessing the best-in-class border technologies, with commanding market leading positions across a range of commodities”, said Stuart Wallace, chief operating officer at Forth Ports.

DP World UK’s chief financial officer, Alan Shaoul, said: “Freeports will be an effective way of underpinning Britain’s economy post-Brexit and post-COVID by further enabling trade with the rest of the world and creating zones which will act as catalysts for commerce, creativity and prosperity.”