Today's news recognises the joint work and efforts by partners from both the public and private sectors and politicians from all parties to deliver an ambitious and innovative project that will transform the region's social and economic future.
Based around the East Midlands Airport and Gateway Industrial Cluster (EMAGIC) in North West Leicestershire, Uniper’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station site in Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands Intermodal Park (EMIP) in South Derbyshire, the Freeport will bring significant investment to develop and drive innovation, alternative energy sources and green technology supporting SME's and large regional employers, including Rolls-Royce, Toyota, and Alstom (formerly Bombardier).
The East Midlands Freeport bid was submitted by a consortium led by the Local Enterprise Partnerships representing Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Leicester, and Leicestershire. It included private sector businesses and local authorities, with support from universities, business groups, local MP's and the proposed East Midlands Development Corporation.
The consortium will now work with the government to develop the proposals into an Outline Business Case providing further information on how the Freeport will be delivered.
Elizabeth Fagan CBE, Chair of the D2N2 LEP, said:
"I am delighted with today's news. The East Midlands Freeport will create thousands of jobs, accelerate the region's commitment to decarbonisation, and drive low carbon energy investments.
"Our bid was built on strong collaboration across business, local authorities and other sectors and will deliver a powerful and unique proposition not just for our region but for the whole of the UK."
Kevin Harris is Chair of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Ltd. Board of Directors, said:
"This is fantastic news for the East Midlands as the Freeport will drive our region’s economic prosperity for years to come.
"It represents an opportunity to attract international investment, capitalise on our key strengths and increase jobs and exports across key industries.
"The benefit to businesses will be streamlined planning, tax relief and simplified customs procedures that will support their growth, and in turn, local communities will benefit from additional employment opportunities and better infrastructure; both of which are targeted at improving people’s livelihoods."
Clare James, East Midlands Airport’s Managing Director, said:
"I’m delighted that the government has recognised enormous potential in the East Midlands and how it will be enhanced by a Freeport in the region. Today’s news will shine a spotlight on a part of the country which has so much to offer investors, existing businesses that wish to grow, and the supply chains that are linked to them.
"The global connectivity that East Midlands Airport brings to the bid is more important than ever as the UK looks to strike trade deals around the world. Furthermore, as the region’s international gateway for people and products, it will continue to play a significant role in the government’s ambition for a ‘global Britain’.
Dave Johnson, Sites Manager, Uniper, said:
"Today’s budget statement by the Chancellor is great news for the region. The creation of a Freeport complements our wider vision for the Ratcliffe power station site, which will see it move towards becoming a zero carbon technology and energy hub for the East Midlands."
Leader of Derbyshire County Council Councillor Barry Lewis, said:
"This is excellent news for Derbyshire - an East Midlands Freeport will make our county an even more attractive location for businesses to invest, thrive and survive.
"We’re fully committed to initiatives that help our economy to build back better and by accelerating the region's commitment to decarbonisation and boosting the area's status as a leading innovation hub for green energy, a Freeport promises not only to bring more jobs to the area but the right kind of sustainable low carbon industry needed for our region to thrive in the future."
Kay Cutts MBE, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said:
"This is great news for the region. Alongside the seaport at Immingham, which would help Lincolnshire and the wider Yorkshire and Humber region, this new freeport will create jobs, skills and business across the East Midlands and attract investors from all over the world.
"Having this freeport here in the heart of Britain will boost productivity and growth, and ultimately improve lives in the years ahead."
Leader of Rushcliffe Borough Council Cllr Simon Robinson, said:
"We’re delighted the East Midlands has been chosen for this hugely significant project to offer an environmental and business opportunity that can enhance Rushcliffe as a great place to live and attract high skilled jobs.
"Low carbon and green technology initiatives for the site at Ratcliffe-on-Soar here in the borough will potentially bring international investment and thousands of employment opportunities, it’s an exciting time for Rushcliffe and the region."
South Derbyshire District Council Leader, Councillor Kevin Richards, said:
"The success of the bid presents an opportunity to provide significant economic benefits to South Derbyshire and the East Midlands region.
"It will undoubtedly attract new investment in addition to supporting the growth of existing businesses in the district."
Ruth Edwards, the Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe said:
"The potential for growth and investment in the East Midlands is enormous. The East Midlands Freeport will unlock this potential, securing long-term, high quality jobs for people across Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Leicestershire.
"The Ratcliffe on Soar site in Rushcliffe is one of the 3 locations central to the bid. I look forward to promoting the benefits a freeport will bring to my constituency and to the wider region."
Mrs Heather Wheeler, the Member of Parliament South Derbyshire, said:
"This is great news for our local economy and our environment. This will keep our local businesses competitive, encourage re-shoring of manufacturing, bring new jobs, take thousands of polluting lorry journeys off our roads and allow us to really deal with local flooding issues once and for all in this area."
David Mellen, Leader of Nottingham City Council, said:
"I’m pleased to see that this proposal has taken a significant step forward with the Chancellor’s announcement today. Providing jobs for the citizens of Nottingham is going to be key to recovery. We want to create more jobs within the city but are aware that many Nottingham residents travel to workplaces in the region, including in the area around East Midlands airport. We need the public transport offer to these workplaces to be improved and investment from the government in our region which has been left behind in funding compared with other areas. The Freeport is an important part of the development needed."
Chris Poulter, Leader of Derby City Council, said:
"I am very pleased to hear today's announcement. Having a Freeport so close to Derby is a major boost to our future economic plans, bringing with it the potential for many thousands of jobs for the city and the region.
"Derby is a city of innovation already home to world class brands serving global markets and we look forward to working with government, the private sector and our local partners to leverage the full benefits of Freeport status."
East Midlands Chamber Chief Executive Scott Knowles, said:
"Our region already has fantastic national and international trading links – something highlighted during the pandemic – and freeport status means we can cement our role at the centre of Britain's post-Brexit global trading relationship.
"We are in a unique position as the only inland freeport among the 10 designated zones, which is testament to East Midlands Airport's reputation as the country's most important mover of international freight and the catalyst for the explosive growth we've witnessed in our region's logistics sector in recent years.
"This free trade zone, which will have a focus on innovation, low carbon and trade, signals the direction of travel for the East Midlands economy – giving investors something tangible to back in order to deliver the inward investment and jobs that will enable growth."
Maria Machancoses, director of Midlands Connect said:
"It's fantastic news that East Midlands Airport has been confirmed as the location of one of 8 UK Freeports, as well as the Humber Freeport, which contains Immingham Port in Lincolnshire. We will now work in earnest with local authorities to make sure these sites are well-connected, and that businesses have the road and rail infrastructure needed to trade with local, national and international partners."
Councillor Richard Blunt, Leader of North West Leicestershire District Council, said:
"Today’s news is very welcome – a freeport in the East Midlands is really exciting opportunity for North West Leicestershire with huge potential to support the economic recovery and growth of the area.
"How we rebuild our local economy after the COVID-19 pandemic will be key to the long term to prosperity of our district, so to see the Freeport plans receive government backing is a real positive.
"North West Leicestershire is proud to be a green district with ambitious Zero Carbon plans and it’s good to see the bid freeport bid also acknowledge its desire to be forward thinking in its decarbonisation and green ambitions.
"As the local planning authority, North West Leicestershire District Council will take a key role in determining future planning applications for the freeport and so we keep an open mind on the proposals, and look forward to seeing them develop."
Andrew Bridgen, Member of Parliament for North West Leicestershire, said:
"This is fantastic news from the Chancellor for both North West Leicestershire and the wider region. This will attract investment, spur local and regional economic growth and enhance international trade. This will bring tens of thousands of new jobs and improved local infrastructure as the government rolls out its levelling up agenda."
Nick Rushton, Leader of Leicestershire County Council, said:
"This is great news and a real boon for the East Midlands. Creating thousands of much-needed jobs and advancing our position as a green technology trailblazer would certainly help the region’s economy to bounce back and expand. This is a once-in-lifetime opportunity to put the East Midlands on the map and I’m pleased the government has recognised the bid’s potential."