East Midlands Freeport company to be officially incorporated within days

Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station Photo: Alan Murray-Rust CC BY-SA 2.0
By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter

A company set up to manage the progress of plans for an economy-boosting ‘freeport’ in the East Midlands will officially be incorporated at the start of June.

And councillors in Rushcliffe will be asked next week to approve the borough council officially joining the company as a member, with council leader Cllr Simon Robinson (Con) to become a director.

Full plans for the freeport were approved by the Government in March. The idea involves giving three sites across the region special tax incentives.

These areas, known as ‘tax sites’, cover the freeport’s planned bases at East Midlands Airport, the East Midlands Intermodal Park in Derbyshire, and the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Rushcliffe.

A ‘freeport’ is a low or zero-tax area, allowing businesses to import and export while avoiding tariffs and reducing red tape – providing they operate within the geographical boundaries of the three key hubs.

The East Midlands Freeport Board, made up of councils, businesses and other major organisations in the region, confirmed earlier this year it has been successful in its bid to the Government.

At the time, the plans had already been given access to special tax incentives, which will give companies whose development plans support the freeport’s main objectives tax-cutting benefits.

The main objectives of the freeport include growth in advanced manufacturing and logistics, and a “turbocharging” of net-zero targets.

It is hoped the benefits will attract new “high-value, low-carbon” investments, with the latest estimates suggesting about 61,000 jobs could be created off the back of the project – including about 29,000 directly at the three sites.

Now councillors in Rushcliffe are due to approve the authority’s membership of the freeport company, named East Midlands Freeport, ahead of its incorporation on June 1.

This, council documents say, will accompany a local development order [LDO] for the Ratcliffe-on-Soar site, approved last year, to speed up planning processes for new businesses across the freeport site.

In a report due before full council on May 26, Kath Marriott, the authority’s chief executive, said: “The council is progressing the LDO for the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station site, working with the site owner.

“An LDO would grant planning permission for the site’s development, subject to any conditions applied to the order. In accordance with East Midlands Freeport and East Midlands Development Corporation’s aspirations for the site.

“The LDO would allow for the creation of a multi-use employment complex with a low-carbon energy focus.”

The freeport board says the plans will help to “power up” the region’s economy to the tune of £8.9 billion over 25 years.

Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station is planned to become a “hub for clean energy” once it is decommissioned later this decade.

And jobs touted for the three sites would boost industries including manufacturing, construction, distribution, logistics, transport, clean energy and aviation.

The freeport plans have been given cross-party backing by Labour and Conservative politicians and councils.

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