As signposted in its recent response to the Freeports Consultation earlier this year, the Government (chancellor Rishi Sunak at the helm) has published its Bidding Prospectus for Freeports writes David Mundy, partner, BDB Pitmans.
It is restricted to England only but the ambition is for at least seven new Freeports in England with the devolved administrations charged with bringing forward at least one each in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Hence Section 1 of the prospectus, ‘Freeports for all nations in the UK’.
The bids should respond to the Government’s three main objectives:
- establish national hubs for global trade, bringing investment into the surrounding regions and being a catalyst for trade;
- regeneration, levelling up of the economy and increasing job numbers and value in deprived areas; and
- creating hotbeds for innovation.
The chancellor has consistently championed this initiative. The onus is now thrust on the bid consortiums, ports, local authorities, firms, LEPs and other regional bodies to “show what they can do”.
The prospectus is awash with the Government’s now familiar rhetoric – the nobility of free enterprise, delivering lasting prosperity to the British people and unleashing the deep potential of our port regions.
However we expect the ports sector to bring forward pragmatic, balanced but ambitious proposals, with consortia coming forward from Liverpool, the Tyne, Harwich, Bristol, London and the South Coast ports.
Proposals are to be submitted to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government by Friday February 5, 2021.
With the challenges of Brexit and the impact of Covid-19 filling already crowded inboxes, this is an ambitious and demanding timetable.
More information about BDB Pitmans’ ports expertise is available here.