Freeport bid to create 28,700 jobs in South Yorkshire launches

An ambitious bid for a new Freeport to make South Yorkshire the largest advanced manufacturing hub in Europe, putting the area at the heart of world-class innovation, has been launched today.

If the bid is successful, South Yorkshire will become one of ten new freeports across the UK. Once established the freeport will help build on South Yorkshire’s longstanding reputation for innovation and excellence and further establish the region as a hub for global trade and investment.

Freeports are part of a Government strategy and Chancellor Rishi Sunak has put them at the heart of the levelling up agenda and his plans for post-Brexit Britain, saying recently: “Our new Freeports will create national hubs for trade, innovation and commerce, levelling up communities across the UK, creating new jobs, and turbo-charging our economic recovery.”

The plan for a South Yorkshire Freeport would see a supercharged business area created to boost trade and incentives for investment, job creation and commercial development. 

The Freeport, backed by key industry figures and politicians, centres around Doncaster Sheffield Airport and the iPort logistics hub - which have substantial plans for growth - major manufacturers including Sheffield Forgemasters and Liberty Steel, and more than 360 hectares of land primed for development (at GatewayEast, Junction36 and iPort). 

New modelling suggests a Freeport in the South Yorkshire would:

  • Create 28,700 new jobs
  • Increase wages by at least east 19% (due to a focus on advanced manufacturing)
  • Add £169m to the South Yorkshire economy every year
  • Boost imports by £306m and exports by £410m
  • Unlock or accelerate over £570m of investment
  • Transform the Sheffield City Region into a net exporter of goods by 2029

Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster, said: “Securing this Freeport in Doncaster will be a boost for the borough and South Yorkshire. It will complement our world-class ambitions to drive the borough onwards and upwards supporting business and trade and stimulating swathes of new jobs and significant levels of new investment.

“The economic benefits will be immense with the bottom line being more high quality, high value jobs for local people. Together with the rest of South Yorkshire we will be urging the Government to back our bid.”

Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis said: “Establishing a freeport will help our region’s businesses and universities export ideas, goods and services across the world, supporting our ambitions for a new era of prosperity and a stronger, greener and fairer economy for South Yorkshire after the coronavirus pandemic. It will help to unlock our region’s potential and create opportunities for people, places and businesses.

“Our region has incredible strengths in research and innovation and businesses capable of substantial growth. Government must now back our bid to establish a freeport to generate the jobs, training and investment needed to deliver prosperity for people and businesses across the region and the North.

“This is an opportunity for government to show its commitment to levelling up and unlock South Yorkshire’s potential.”

Robert Hough, Chair of Peel Airports Group which includes Doncaster Sheffield Airport said: “Ports and airports are well known as hubs for global trade and investment., Freeport status would only enhance that. By bringing together the UK’s first strategic rail port for a decade at iPort and one of the longest runways in the UK with capacity to grow at Doncaster Sheffield Airport. Peel, Harworth and Verdion have proven track records in delivering transformational projects, helping to create jobs and opportunities for local people."

Jon Ferriman, Managing Director of Liberty Steel UK added: “The Freeport will allow us to grow our exports, supercharge innovation and support the businesses of the future.  The region’s existing advanced manufacturing base of course already includes ourselves, Sheffield Forgemasters, McLaren, Boeing, and others, but there is potential to go so much further.  This Freeport will help to secure existing businesses and ensure more well-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing come to South Yorkshire in the future."


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