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Post-Brexit Sees Dozens of UK Ports Apply for 'Freeport' Status

8th February 2021
Up to UK 40 ports have reportedly submitted proposals, including some of the biggest names in the British ports sector, as they seek to attract benefits of 'Freeport'status among them Port of Milford Haven (above) in Pembrokeshire, south Wales. The leading UK port handles over 30m tonnes of cargo annually and is a major energy port. AFLOAT has identified in this 'file' photo the black hulled short-sea products tanker MV Brabourne / MV Blackrock (in 1989 the newbuild was named after the Dublin Bay suburb with a ceremony held in Dun Laoghaire Harbour) which Afloat reflected upon in recent years. Up to UK 40 ports have reportedly submitted proposals, including some of the biggest names in the British ports sector, as they seek to attract benefits of 'Freeport'status among them Port of Milford Haven (above) in Pembrokeshire, south Wales. The leading UK port handles over 30m tonnes of cargo annually and is a major energy port. AFLOAT has identified in this 'file' photo the black hulled short-sea products tanker MV Brabourne / MV Blackrock (in 1989 the newbuild was named after the Dublin Bay suburb with a ceremony held in Dun Laoghaire Harbour) which Afloat reflected upon in recent years. Credit: Port of Milford Haven

In the UK numerous ports, port groups and ports and logistics consortia appear to have applied for freeport status by last Friday’s deadline set for England by the UK government.

This according to LloydsLoadingList, was to enable applicants seek to attract the associated benefits including investment funding, customs free zone flexibility, and other tax incentives.

The expectation is that as many as 40 ports, port clusters and even airports may have submitted proposals, including some of the biggest names in the UK ports sector, including Dover, Southampton, Felixstowe/Harwich, London Gateway/Tilbury, Hull, Port of Tyne, Teesport, Bristol, Milford Haven and Grangemouth.

The benefits for those that are successful in their bids to gain freeport status include favourable customs duties and processing, suspension of VAT, business rates relief, zero national insurance contributions, enhanced capital allowances, simplified planning and development rules and stamp duty reliefs, Lloyd’s List highlights.

Various ports groups have confirmed they have submitted applications, including a joint application by London Gateway, Tilbury and Ford Dagenham, where the carmaker has an engine plant. The FT reports that at least two UK airports, East Midlands, and Bournemouth International – which has teamed up with nearby port of Poole — may also have bid.

Although Brexit supporters have long championed freeports as a benefit of leaving the EU, critics have pointed out that the UK had several freeports while it was within the EU and had eliminated them in 2012 under a previous Conservative-led coalition government. Others have argued that EU membership provided all of the benefits of freeports and much more, which was why they fell out of favour in the UK.

For much more including Post-Brexit customs and trading complications click this link.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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