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In February 2020 the Government published a consultation document, led by the Department for International Trade, about creating a new generation of Freeports in the UK.  The intention behind the proposals is to boost trade and investment, to create innovation clusters whose benefits extend across wider areas, and to help level up opportunity across the country.

In responding to the consultation, TGKP has emphasised the need for policies on Freeports to be part of a broader strategy for economic stimulus across the country.   TGKP's Chief Executive, Matthew Norwell, said:

"To help drive sustained economic recovery and growth a wide range of policy tools will be needed.  Freeports policy needs to be well integrated into a comprehensive strategy for economic-led, sustainable regeneration both nationally and more locally.  In this context, too, we would urge Government to think very carefully about the place-shaping dimension and ensure that it keeps the interests of local communities front and centre in its thinking."

Digital technologies have potential to enable aspects of Freeports to be delivered without necessarily being bound to specific locations; for others, geography and location will matter.  Referring to the role Freeports might play in support of levelling up opportunity, Matthew Norwell commented:

"The Thames Estuary is an area of both great opportunity and great need.  We ask the Government to look at how any future Freeports selection process can maximise the benefits across a geography such as the Thames Estuary as well as its counterparts in other regions of the UK."

You can read TGKP's response in full here.