Solent Freeport at UKREiiF 2024

Solent Freeport’s Trade and Investment Manager Carla Modley gave a presentation to UKREiiF 2024 (the UK’s Real Estate, investment and infrastructure Forum).

She attended the UK’s largest event for the built environment and investment industries, held in Leeds for the third year running.

The three-day event brought together the public sector – with every core UK city and region involved – alongside Government, investors, funders, developers, housebuilders and more.

It is designed to champion and accelerate sustainable, inclusive and transformational investment in all regions.

Carla was on a panel of experts for the event’s ‘Meet the Ports’ session, held in the Connected Places Catapult pavilion.

She explained how the economic stimulus afforded by Freeport status reflected the Solent’s credentials as a global gateway with Southampton recognised as the UK’s biggest export port.

Carla was joined by the chief executives of Humber Freeport and Eyemouth Harbour Trust, with each presentation followed by questions from a packed room of conference delegates from the property, planning, investment and infrastructure sectors.

The session was conceived for the audience to hear quickfire insights on ports as places and to find out which ports are becoming catalysts for economic development in our coastal communities.

Carla said: “This was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to an important audience of investors, funders and developers what progress we are making at Solent Freeport and why we are an excellent choice for inward investment.

“It was also a chance to take the temperature of the built environment and investment sectors, gauge what others are doing, absorb and share best practice and garner new ideas and concepts which we can utilise at Solent Freeport.”

Freeports are special areas that have been created to boost investment into parts of the country that have historically missed out. They benefit from a generous package of incentives, as well as excellent port infrastructure (sea and air), and build on the proud industrial heritages of their regions.  

All of this enables freeports to create an attractive business environment with the aim of rebalancing local economies by building new clusters in sectors of the future, spearheading the journey to Net Zero, and creating thousands of long-term, high-quality jobs for local people.

Solent Freeport is bringing about an innovation revolution in maritime, autonomy and green growth; the Solent is driving a powerful £7.7 billion maritime economy, making the region a thriving hub for the world’s marine and maritime sector.

It offers a range of incentives relating to customs, tax, infrastructure, and innovation.

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

It will enable the region to capitalise on its strengths in a highly competitive global market 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 credentials as the nation’s global gateway. More than £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.

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.

The 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

Freeports operate with both ‘tax’ and ‘customs’ sites.

Tax sites offer occupiers business rates relief and other incentives to support capital investment, skills and employment. Business rates growth generated at the tax sites can be retained locally and reinvested in the area.

Customs sites help enable the tariff-free movement of goods for both export and import through simplified customs procedures.

Solent Freeport’s sites are Navigator Quarter adjacent to Southampton Airport, Dunsbury Park at Havant, Port of Southampton, Fawley Waterside, ExxonMobil, Portsmouth International Port and Solent Gateway.

Each freeport has an outer boundary which is the area where the Freeport’s regeneration spending and innovation measures can be used to generate prosperity for the region. 

The outer boundary of the Solent Freeport reflects the well-recognised economic area of the Solent region,  as well as including transport routes critical to the area’s, and the country’s, economic prosperity.

For information on specific investment opportunities with Solent Freeport, visit