7,000 jobs eyed by ABP chief behind successful freeport bid as benefits to be felt beyond the Humber
Simon Bird reacts to freeport status turned around in less than four weeks by government to make Budget speech
Humber Freeport consortium leader Simon Bird said the approved status will see 7,000 new jobs created in the area, with benefits stretching far beyond the UK’s busiest trading estuary.
The ABP director headed up the bid – blessed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his Budget speech – a move regarded as one of the most unified approaches to major investment in recent times.
And it has seen Hull, Immingham, Goole and major manufacturing sites such as British Steel pulled in, providing a huge economic stimulus.
“We are delighted to learn that the Humber Freeport bid was announced by the Chancellor today as successful,” Mr Bird said.
“The bid is uniquely placed to deliver on the Government’s agenda to level up and decarbonise our economy.
“Over the coming months we will be focusing on delivery to create the new freeport, which we expect to bring in major investment to our part of the world and will lead to over 7,000 new jobs for the Humber.
“The benefits of this will be felt far beyond just the Humber, but across Yorkshire, the Midlands and the North West as well.”
At the outset, Mr Bird said scale would be a focus, with Immingham the largest port by tonnage handled in the UK.
Humber Container Terminal provides a northern trade gateway, while large swathes of flat land provides potential major employment opportunities across both banks. Land by Saltend is already in planning, with Able Marine Energy Park – another big winner – fully consented.
When submitted in February, Mr Bird described it as the “most compelling bid for freeport status that the UK government will get to consider”.
Consideration didn’t take long, with approval less than four weeks later.
“As an initial first step, a new governing board will be created, made up of representatives of the various local authorities and local enterprise partnerships as well as a collection of interested private businesses,” Mr Bird confirmed. “We hope the freeport will be up and running before the year is over and delivering on bringing new jobs to the Humber from 2022.”
The Humber zone features custom zones locations across the patch – including the four main ports – with three new tax sites highlighted for land east of Port of Hull, Goole and AMEP.
Significant seed capital resources to ensure the benefits of freeport status are felt across all four Humber local authority areas, including at the South Humber Industrial Investment Project site between Grimsby and Immingham, are part of it.
Cllr Philip Jackson, leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, described the freeport announcement “as a landmark day, not just for the borough, but for the whole of the Humber”.
He said: “As part of the bid consortium, we believed we had pulled together a compelling and transformational bid for supporting sites across the Humber to provide long-term opportunities for jobs and growth and we’re naturally delighted that Government agreed with us.
“This will help the area make the most of the global opportunities now opening up to Britain and I’m confident it will see even further investment, jobs and opportunities for the Humber to flourish..
“In North East Lincolnshire, it means that we’ll be able to maintain the innovation and momentum we’ve built up in recent years across some of our most important economic sites. “It really is exciting news and we’re looking forward to working with partners to make the most of the benefits freeport status will bring to the area.’’
Diana Taylor, managing director of place promotion agency Marketing Humber, said: “We are delighted with the great news that the Humber is one of the first regions to be granted freeport status in the UK.
“This is an exciting opportunity for our region to increase capabilities, attract new investment and create jobs in our world-leading decarbonisation agenda. This cements the region’s role as a crucial arm of UK Plc and the huge influence the Humber will have in building back better.”