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06 Feb 2021

Freeport bid to create 28,700 jobs in South Yorkshire launches

An ambitious bid for a new Freeport to make South Yorkshire the largest advanced manufacturing hub in Europe, putting the area at the heart of world-class innovation, has launched (Friday 5 February 2021).

If the bid is successful, South Yorkshire will become one of ten new freeports across the UK. Once established the freeport will help build on South Yorkshire’s longstanding reputation for innovation and excellence and further establish the region as a hub for global trade and investment.

Freeports are part of a Government strategy and Chancellor Rishi Sunak has put them at the heart of the levelling up agenda and his plans for post-Brexit Britain, saying recently: “Our new Freeports will create national hubs for trade, innovation and commerce, levelling up communities across the UK, creating new jobs, and turbo-charging our economic recovery.”

The plan for a South Yorkshire Freeport would see a supercharged business area created to boost trade and incentives for investment, job creation and commercial development.

The Freeport, backed by key industry figures and politicians, centres around the iPort logistics hub - which have substantial plans for growth - major manufacturers including Sheffield Forgemasters and Liberty Steel, and more than 360 hectares of land primed for development (at GatewayEast, Junction36 and iPort).

New modelling suggests a Freeport in the South Yorkshire would:

● Create 28,700 new jobs
● Increase wages by at least east 19% (due to a focus on advanced manufacturing)
● Add £169m to the South Yorkshire economy every year
● Boost imports by £306m and exports by £410m
● Unlock or accelerate over £570m of investment
● Transform the Sheffield City Region into a net exporter of goods by 2029

Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis said: “Establishing a freeport will help our region’s businesses and universities export ideas, goods and services across the world, supporting our ambitions for a new era of prosperity and a stronger, greener and fairer economy for South Yorkshire after the coronavirus pandemic. It will help to unlock our region’s potential and create opportunities for people, places and businesses.

“Our region has incredible strengths in research and innovation and businesses capable of substantial growth. Government must now back our bid to establish a freeport to generate the jobs, training and investment needed to deliver prosperity for people and businesses across the region and the North.

“This is an opportunity for government to show its commitment to levelling up and unlock South Yorkshire’s potential.”

Robert Hough, Chair of Peel Airports Group said: “Ports and airports are well known as hubs for global trade and investment. Freeport status would only enhance that by bringing together the UK’s first strategic rail port for a decade at iPort. Peel, Harworth and Verdion have proven track records in delivering transformational projects with Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and the Sheffield City Region and by working with local partners and businesses we have the expertise, capacity and infrastructure to help create jobs and opportunities for local people.”

Stephen Wild, Peel L&P’s Executive Director for Strategic Investment & Growth said: “GatewayEast is a £1.7bn shovel-ready project and the Sheffield City Region’s largest opportunity for sustainable economic growth and social impact. It has the potential to create 35,000 jobs and deliver 3,000 new homes.

“Freeport status would accelerate the delivery of the advanced manufacturing innovation district and make a significant contribution to the Government’s levelling up agenda in Doncaster.”

Jon Ferriman, Managing Director of Liberty Steel UK added: “The Freeport will allow us to grow our exports, supercharge innovation and support the businesses of the future. The region’s existing advanced manufacturing base of course already includes ourselves, Sheffield Forgemasters, McLaren, Boeing, and others, but there is potential to go so much further. This Freeport will help to secure existing businesses and ensure more well-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing come to South Yorkshire in the future."

Notes to editors

Who backs the South Yorkshire Freeport? Backers include:

Sheffield Forgemasters

Liberty Steel

McLaren Automotive

Hird Group

Peel L&P

The iPort logistics hub


Hird Group

Advanced Manufacturing Park

Sheffield, Doncaster, Barnsley & Rotherham Chambers of Commerce

Harworth Group

Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority

Sheffield City Region LEP

Doncaster and Barnsley Councils

South Yorkshire International Trade Forum

What is a Freeport?

Freeports are ports - either inland or coastal - where normal tax and customs rules do not apply. Freeports are similar to free zones or ‘enterprise zones’, specifically targeted at those businesses who import, process and re-export goods.

What are the customs benefits in a UK Freeport?

UK customs sites benefit from simplified import procedures and can receive duty exemptions (where no duty is paid on goods that are imported into the Freeport, processed or manufactured into something else, and then exported again); duty deferral; import VAT suspension and; tariff/duty inversion (where products are imported, transformed, and the final product has a lower duty rate.

What are the tax benefits in a UK Freeport?

- Business rate relief of up to 100% on certain business premises for up to five years

- Employer NIC relief - 0% up to £25k - 3yrs per employee/9 years total

- Enhanced Capital Allowances

- Enhanced Structures and Building Allowance

- Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) Relief on qualifying commercial activity for up to five years

Does the UK Freeport model change any employment rights?

Unlike Freeports in some countries, there are no changes to UK employment laws with regards to UK Freeports.

Map of the South Yorkshire Freeport

Peel L&P’s GatewayEast is a £1.7bn shovel-ready project that provides over 11m sq ft of commercial and residential space.

Harworth’s Junction36 incorporates Gateway 36 and the site of the former Rockingham Colliery.

Verdion’s iPort in Doncaster is the UK’s most advanced multimodal logistics hub.