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Plymouth and South Devon Freeport first to be given green light with Full Business Case approval

7 December 2022

Freeport Dec 2022

New employment land, new businesses, thousands of jobs and millions of pounds of investment is coming our way with the approval of the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport Full Business Case announced by the government today.

Plymouth and South Devon Freeport is the first of eight Freeports to be given the full green light along with two others. The approval unlocks millions of pounds of grant seed funding and enables applicable businesses to join and take advantage of the Freeport status.

The Freeport will:

  • Enable new employment land to be bought forward at the three sites of South Yard, Langage and Sherford
  • Accelerate the formation of advanced manufacturing clusters in marine, defence and space sectors with low carbon applications at the forefront
  • Leverage £250m private sector investment
  • Ensure seed capital grant from Government of £25m for essential infrastructure
  • Include £29m investment from local councils
  • Support a new £30m Innovation Centre at Oceansgate
  • Provide a major expansion plan for Princess Yachts
  • Deliver over 3,500 jobs

The Freeport is a dynamic public/private partnership with Plymouth City Council, South Hams District Council and Devon County Council working alongside Babcock, Princess Yachts, Carlton Power, the Sherford Consortium and a wider range of stakeholders including the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter, Plymouth port operators, skills providers and the Heart of the South West LEP to ensure its success.

Harnessing the region's key strengths in marine, defence and advanced manufacturing, and supporting the burgeoning space sector, the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport will enable innovators and investors from across the world to test, trial and take to market cutting edge technology and products. Working with the Department of International Trade, a dedicated team of experts will showcase the Freeport to global investors and businesses who fit the criteria to expand or relocate to the region.

Businesses that are part of the Freeport can take advantage of a range of tax and customs benefits and incentives to support growth, innovation and investment in the South West including business rates relief, employer National Insurance contributions rate relief, stamp duty land tax relief, capital allowances, VAT and tariff benefits and simplified import procedures.

Approval now enables interested businesses to begin taking the first steps to contracting, designing and planning their place within the Freeport with the Freeport team, landowners and partners and discuss the myriad of benefits this presents.

And, the good news keeps on coming for the Freeport with confirmation from government that the Langage site has now been designated which means eligible businesses will be able to benefit from the tax reliefs available. South Yard and Sherford sites were designated in the summer.

Freeport status enables the relevant councils and landowners to bring forward the key sites of South Yard, Sherford and Langage into prime employment sites attracting new business, providing thousands of jobs and injecting millions of pounds of inward investment into the region. These three sites had previously been identified as underutilised and undeveloped as part of the Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan.

Carlton Power, the owners of Langage Energy Park, recently secured planning permission to build a 10MW green hydrogen electrolyser, ensuring that Langage could be home to the first hydrogen production hub of its kind for Devon and Cornwall. The Langage Green Hydrogen hub will be a key facility for the Freeport and will also help to deliver net zero goals for Freeport operations overall. Innovators are lining up to leverage this hydrogen fuel supply to prototype and test future engines for vehicles and vessels - the hope is that these novel solutions will be manufactured in the Freeport.

Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison said: "Today is a historic day for Plymouth, South Devon and beyond, as the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport gets up and running to drive growth and innovation locally and nationally.

"The Freeport is going to shape the fortunes of the Plymouth and South Devon economies by pumping up to £100 million worth of investment across the region. We are maximising the opportunities of Brexit to drive growth and throw our doors open to the world."

Leader of Plymouth City Council, Richard Bingley said: "The Freeport will deliver 3,500 well paid jobs and provide a free trade hub which will include advanced manufacturing and IT for Plymouth and South Devon. It's putting this area on the map for foreign investment and attracting businesses to relocate here. This is a huge deal for this city and the wider region and I'm really excited about the opportunities it will create for our residents and our businesses."

Councillor Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council, said: "The Freeport is already having a benefit in our area, with SHDC having granted planning permission for the 10MW green hydrogen facility at Langage very recently. It is the catalyst for new jobs, clean growth and the opportunity to decarbonise our regional transport, all things that South Hams District Council strives for through its corporate strategy, Better Lives for All."

Devon County Council Leader John Hart said: "A huge amount of work and commitment has gone into getting the Freeport off the ground over the past 18 months and the close partnership between councils has been key in getting this vital project to this point. The Freeport will enhance our county's reputation in the marine, defence and space sectors, which will help attract inward investment, generate local jobs and benefit local businesses - all of which will drive economic growth and recovery."

David Lockwood, Chief Executive, Babcock said: "Babcock welcomes the UK Government's designation of the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport. As a major employer in the region, we have actively supported this business case, which firmly aligns with our long term commitment to the area."

"The Freeport will bring significant opportunities and potential employment to the South West of the UK, and we are delighted to be part of this through our dedicated support to the Royal Navy, continued investment in our facilities and delivering wider economic benefits through our supply chain."

A national recruitment campaign to find a permanent team is now underway. The Freeport website and social media channels have also been launched providing regular updates, news and developments about the project.

Featured image (from left to right): Councillor Richard Bingley Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Judy Pearce Leader of South Hams District Council, Plymouth and South Devon Freeport interim CEO Richard May and Councillor John Hart Leader of Devon County Council.

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