East Midlands Freeport tax breaks go live in three weeks

Tax incentives for businesses in the East Midlands Freeport areas will come into effect before the end of the month.

The Government has confirmed that eligible companies investing in its three zones – around East Midlands Airport, the Ratcliffe on Soar power station redevelopment site and the East Midlands Intermodal Park near the Derbyshire Toyota plant – could access benefits from March 22.

In all eight freeports are being created across the UK after being championed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to streamline planning rules, offer tax reliefs and business rates reliefs, and allow businesses to import and export without tariffs or red tape.

The Government believes the three East Midlands “tax sites” will support 61,000 jobs and bring an extra £8.9 billion into the local economy over 30 years.

The new policy will particularly favour companies supporting the freeport objectives of promoting growth in advanced manufacturing and logistics, and “turbocharging the drive towards Net Zero”.

The East Midlands Freeport’s three sites are in Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and make up the UK’s only inland freeport. The region is seen as a “golden triangle” with quick road and rail access to all corners of the UK and one of the country’s biggest freight airports.

Former East Midlands Airport boss Penny Coates, who chairs of the East Midlands Freeport board, said: “The Government’s approval for our tax sites means that the East Midlands Freeport now offers a total of 533ha of prime, strategic development land where companies can not only benefit from a fantastic location with fantastic global transport links; they can also benefit from a comprehensive package of special incentives that make our freeport one of the best places to invest in the UK.

“That’s why today’s announcement is the moment when we can really start to turn our ambitions for the freeport into reality, delivering well-paid green jobs for communities, supporting levelling-up and helping achieve a Net Zero economy.”

Leicestershire County Council leader Coun Nick Rushton said: “Freeports are a key element of levelling up the UK and I’m delighted to have reached this major milestone.

“This is a big moment for the East Midlands. As the UK’s only inland freeport, the innovative plans will power up the region’s economy, create much-needed jobs and put the East Midlands firmly on the map.

“We can now get to work on starting to deliver its promise.”

Clare James, East Midlands Airport’s managing director, said: “We look forward to continuing our work with public and private sector partners to make a success of the UK’s only inland freeport, and to playing our role in the future prosperity of the East Midlands.

“By building on the strengths of the region’s leading sectors including advanced manufacturing, logistics and R&D, the Freeport is well-placed to drive future investment and economic growth which will create new and diverse jobs for local people.”

Andrew Pilsworth is managing director for national logistics at SEGRO, which runs the vast Gateway logistics park just north of the airport.

He said: “As a long-term investor in the Midlands, we believe warehouse infrastructure can contribute to wide socio-economic benefits, from creating sustainable employment opportunities and stimulating economic growth to enhancing infrastructure and enabling better consumer choice.

“We welcome the approval of the East Midlands Freeport as a way of accelerating the contribution SEGRO, our customers and partners can make to delivering these benefits as well as driving forward the levelling up agenda.”

John Williams is executive chairman of Maritime Transport, which operates the new rail freight terminal which links East Midlands Gateway to the UK’s busiest container port at Felixstowe.

He said: “Maritime Transport is excited about the Governments’ confirmation of Tax Site designation for EMF.

“The designation and accompanying benefits will undoubtedly attract and accelerate investment into the region, where Maritime’s Rail Terminal, located within the EMAGIC Tax Site, is the key freight gateway for East Midlands Freeport global connectivity.”

Dave Johnson, Site Manager for Uniper, which owns the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station site, said: “Uniper welcomes the Government’s statement confirming Tax Site designation for the EMF.

“As landowner of the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station site, Uniper continues to work with regional stakeholders to progress plans for the redevelopment of the site into a zero carbon technology and energy hub for the East Midlands, with the potential to create employment opportunities based around modern industrial and manufacturing uses.

“The benefits associated with the designation of Ratcliffe as a Tax Site within the freeport will significantly enhance its attractiveness as a location for new businesses; boosting future employment and growth opportunities.”

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Tom PegdenLeicester Mercury business editor