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Business leaders urge Government to back the Freeport

Business leaders from across Yorkshire have provided their backing to a South Yorkshire Freeport bid after the UK Government announced its plans to create freeports around the country.

Sea, air and rail ports in England were invited to bid for Freeport status before the end of 2020, with the Doncaster Sheffield Airport bid amongst the sites vying for freeport status.

With bids now in, the Doncaster Chamber is urging the government to recognise the ambition that characterises the bid and the region, and to award freeport status to South Yorkshire in the spring.
Expected to transform the country’s ports and airports, just as freedoms transformed London’s Docklands in the 1980s, up to ten freeports will be created around the UK, reducing costs and bureaucracy, encouraging manufacturing businesses to set up or re-shore, with the most successful freeports globally attracting businesses and creating jobs.
The UK Government is expected to announce the winning bids after a consultation process, aiming for the first of the new sites to be open for business in 2021.

The Doncaster Sheffield Airport bid, supported by Doncaster Council, the Sheffield City Region LEP and Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher will provide the basis to encourage world-leading areas of competitive advantage and sets out the contribution for the freeport status to help tackle deprivation and meet the government's commitment to 'levelling up' the North.

Locating a Freeport anchored around and joining together Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA), GatewayEast and Doncaster’s new inland port (the iPort rail and logistics hub) has the potential to assist in accelerating the transformation of Sheffield City Region (SCR) into a high-productivity, high-skilled and high-growth economy. By connecting these important transport infrastructures assets, closely linked by the Great Yorkshire Way, business leaders believe this is one of the best UK opportunities for tri-modal connectivity and to grow international investment and trade.

Andy Morley, Doncaster Chamber Vice President said, “South Yorkshire’s Freeport bid is a bold statement of intent. Importantly, the bid demonstrates – despite the challenges posed by EU Exit and Covid-19 – that the region is determinedly open for business and ambitious in its outlook. The partnership approach to this bid is to be commended and evidences just how well the private and public sectors can work together for the betterment of the region.

“The Freeport bid has attracted significant interest and support from the business community. Local business leaders recognise how freeport status could help to boost innovation and international trade activity in the region, something that is badly needed given the existing productivity challenge in South Yorkshire.”

Meanwhile Doncaster Chamber CEO, Dan Fell, CEO said, “The agglomeration benefits that would come from a successful bid would also be significant as Freeport status would likely act as a catalyst to increased inward investment from sectors such as advanced manufacturing, advanced low carbon and green technology. This means the bid could help to generate hundreds of jobs at a time when unemployment is sadly rising at a formidable rate.

“Doncaster’s central location in the UK – along with unique regional assets such as the iPort and Doncaster Sheffield Airport – makes it a natural choice for a Freeport.  South Yorkshire’s bid also provides an early opportunity for the Prime Minister to honour commitments to ‘level up’ the UK by grating freeport status to the region.”

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