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The Nation's Global Gateway

The Solent has always been our nation's global gateway. Establishing the Solent Freeport will create 32,000 jobs across the UK, and enable the UK and our region to capitalise on the Solent's geographic advantage in the highly competitive global market following Brexit.

32,000 jobs

Deprived coastal communities in the Solent will be levelled up while, at the same time supporting those in the Midlands and North who rely on connectivity to international markets through Solent ports. By backing the universally supported proposal, Solent productivity will be transformed and the UK will receive an additional £3.57 billion GVA uplift.

Innovation revolution

Through links to three world-class universities and host of national research assets, Solent Freeport will catalyse an innovation revolution in maritime, autonomy and green growth. It will provide a centre of excellence in green skills and jobs to ensure local communities, and in particular our young people, can benefit from opportunities created.

The Solent Freeport will unlock billions of pounds’ worth of investment, create tens of thousands of new jobs and level up our important coastal communities.

Establishing the Solent Freeport will enable us to create 32,000 new skilled and semi-skilled jobs, including 16,000 director jobs in the Solent and 16,000 in the wider UK supply chain.

Local sites where job opportunities are to be created are adjacent to Solent communities in the 10% most deprived in the UK, including areas within Portsmouth, Southampton, and Havant, with other notable concentrations located in Gosport, the Isle of Wight, and the New Forest Waterside.

COVID-19 has widened the opportunity gap for these communities and a Solent Freeport provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reverse these trends.

The Solent Freeport will also support levelling up across the UK – in particular in the UK’s industrial heartlands of the Midlands and North. The potential of significant government investment in freight links
between Southampton and the Midlands will be realised through the connectivity to global markets that the Solent ports provide.

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The Solent Freeport will enable us to capitalise on our strengths in a highly competitive global market post-Brexit and ensure the unique geographic advantage of the region is maximised for UK plc.

A strong track record of international trade through the Solent already evidences our credentials as the Nation’s global gateway.

Reaching far beyond the South Coast of England, it will also benefit those in the Midlands and North that rely on connectivity to international markets through Solent port; and UK plc will receive an additional £3.57 billion GVA uplift.

Over £77.5 billion worth of goods pass through the ports of Southampton, the UK’s number one export port for vehicles, and Portsmouth, including £42.8 billion worth of exports.

Our ports provide UK businesses with the closest direct access to over 70 ports globally. With its unrivalled geographic proximity to the shipping lanes into Europe and unique tides, the Solent is in the strongest possible position to expand the UK’s trade with new markets and be a best in class Freeport.

Strategic national connectivity of the Solent by rail, highway and air provide a geographic advantage stronger than any other UK region seeking to trade.

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The Solent Freeport is an investment in our future, providing both instant impact and long-term benefits.

The Solent already contributes £31billion to the UK economy per annum. Freeport status will add an additional £3.57 billion to UK plc through the GVA uplift, including £1.6billion in direct GVA in the Solent and £1.9 billion in GVA to
be generated for the rest of the UK.

It will act as a magnet for an estimated £2 billion of extra investment comprising £1.4 billion from the private sector and £600 million in complementary public sector investment.

While recognising our proud maritime heritage, we don’t live in the past. We have an appetite for innovation and building sustainable, long-term opportunities now and in the future.

The Solent has a track record in translating innovation and new technologies into commercial success. Building on long-standing relationships with our three universities and world-class research assets, the Solent Freeport will support increased R&D funding and innovation in our ports and growth sectors such as Artificial Intelligence.

Building on existing strengths in environmental innovation, the Solent Freeport will support national and local ambitions for net zero by growing capacity for sustainable energy production, improving efficiencies to raise productivity, and investing in environmental mitigation to the impacts of climate change on our communities.

A dedicated Solent Freeport Green Growth Institute (SFGGI) will provide a centre of excellence in green skills and jobs to ensure local communities can benefit from the opportunities created through environmental innovation.

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The Freeport area

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Latest news on the Solent Freeport

“Solent Freeport is critical to ensuring that the UK can remain competitive on an international stage in the years ahead.” - Chair of the Solent LEP, Brian Johnson

View all news Visit UK GOV official page play_arrowWatch HMRC official video Download Brochure

Freeport timeline

February 2021
Bids for Freeports submitted to Government
March 2021
Shortlist of eight Freeports announced in the Budget
Spring 2021
Freeports to agree suitable governance arrangements with the Government
Summer 2021
Business Case developed and submitted for MHCLG and HM Treasury approval

Tax and customs sites to be agreed with and authorised by HM Treasury, HMRC, and Border Force
Late 2021
Freeports to begin operations

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