Teesside Freeport – the UK’s first and largest ‘freeport’ – began operations yesterday. Officially launched by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen just three weeks ago, it is now ready to welcome businesses from around the world as it positions the region as a leader in clean energy, advanced manufacturing and innovation.
Situated at locations right across the Tees Valley, including Teesside Airport and Wilton International and with its heart at Teesworks, the freeport status means businesses will benefit from a wide package of tax reliefs, simplified customs procedures, streamlined planning processes and government support to promote regeneration and innovation.
It will create more than 18,000 new highly skilled jobs and generate billions of pounds for the local economy over five years, with work well under way on the first scheme at Teesworks.
GE Renewable Energy is set to build a huge offshore wind turbine blade manufacturing facility on the site which will supply Dogger Bank, the world’s largest wind farm. The scheme is expected to deliver up to 750 manufacturing jobs and a further 1,500 in the supply chain.
This facility will sit next to the in-development 1.2km heavy-lift South Bank Quay to service the offshore sector, which recently secured £107 million from the UK Infrastructure Bank as it made its first investment in the region.
It forms part of the wider 4.5 million ft2
of advanced manufacturing and industrial space set to be built on 450 acres of land next to the wharf as the area aims to become the UK’s premier offshore wind hub.Ahead of the game
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “The day has finally come — after years of campaigning and shouting about the transformative potential of a freeport for Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, we are at last open for business. This has put us well ahead of the game in being able to attract investment and capitalise on everything we have to offer.
“We are throwing our doors open to the world, showing businesses that we are a truly outward-looking, international region ready to welcome the cutting-edge sectors of the future. In turn, this will create quality, well-paid jobs for local people right across the region, boosting our economy and ultimately putting more money in their pockets.
“We are already reaping its benefits with investors coming on-site now, with GE Renewable Energy choosing our area because of our freeport status. As we lead the UK in the cleaner, safer and healthier industries and jobs of tomorrow, the sky’s the limit as to what the Teesside Freeport can achieve.”
The Teesworks Freeport will also have access to a share of £200 million of Government funding to support the region’s levelling up ambitions and to become the UK’s clean energy powerhouse.
Minister for Levelling Up Neil O’Brien MP said: “I am delighted to see the Teesside Freeport spring into operation, putting the region at the forefront of UK’s drive to ‘net zero’.
“Freeports will help to generate prosperity and spread opportunity by driving trade and innovation and delivering a world-class workforce for the future.”