Last December, Plymouth’s freeport – along with Solent and Teesside’s – were the first of eight to be granted approval by the Government. The Government have committed £25m and a further £29m has been secured from local authority sources. This is a strong endorsement of our dockyard which I have persistently championed throughout my time in Parliament.
A freeport is a special area within the UK’s borders where different economic regulations apply. They use tax and customs incentives to channel investment to a specific site. This presents a host of economic opportunities for our City. It will unlock employment land at South Yard, Langage and Sherford and accelerate the formation of advanced manufacturing clusters in our marine, defence and space sectors. This will translate into £250m in private sector investment and more than 3,500 jobs – delivering a step change for our City’s local economy.
One year on, we are already seeing the benefits of the freeport to Plymouth. Defence companies Babcock and Supacat have secured a £40m MoD contract, placing an initial order of 70 High Mobility Transporters (HMT 400 series). £1.3m freeport investment has been allocated to improve Millbay Docks and allow more ships to moor up. Major expansion plans have been confirmed by Princess Yachts. Carlton Power have plans for a green hydrogen generation plant with an initial capacity to heat 14,000 homes in 2025. These are just a handful of many projects in the pipeline which Plymothians can be proud of.
My commitment to Plymouth’s freeport is my latest endeavour in a long history of delivery for our local economy. Since 2015, I have intervened several times to bring jobs to, or retain jobs in Plymouth. Whether it was the re-opening of the iconic Ship building in Derriford or creating a business environment for £2.2bn of MoD investment, I fight for every job. I have worked hard to wring every last penny of Government support down to Plymouth, and with Plymouth City Council overseen millions of pounds of grants to local businesses and enterprises. As we recover going forward, I am determined to return to record low levels of unemployment and will redouble my efforts to ensure businesses have all the conditions they require for growth and success here in Plymouth. The freeport is central to this.
Don’t let the pessimists sell our City short. While the past few years have been incredibly turbulent, I passionately believe in Plymouth’s future. That future has always been tied to the dockyard – hence the nickname Britain’s Ocean City. The freeport will not only help guarantee its future, but attract new jobs and investment into our City. I will continue to keep a close eye on developments and ensure that Plymouth fully harnesses this once in a generation opportunity.
I want to hear from you. If you would like to raise any issues about our new freeport, please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or 01752 876979. Surgeries can also be booked with me through these channels. Furthermore, if you would like to be notified about what I am doing here in Plymouth, including when I next write an op-ed for the Herald, please sign up to my mailing list here.