Freeports can open the gates to national prosperity
Miriam Cates MP and Nick Fletcher MP - The Times Red Box
As two Conservative Yorkshire MPs who helped turn the Red Wall blue in 2019, we’re fully committed to the Government’s plans to level up the North. Every day, whether we’re speaking to constituents at home in South Yorkshire or representing them 150 miles away in Westminster, we see how essential it is that the Westminster government works for everyone. It’s vital that no matter where you live in the UK you can benefit from the opportunities created by being part of the world’s 5th largest economy.
And that’s why we’re part of a committed and growing group of local individuals, businesses and organisations throwing our support behind a Freeport for South Yorkshire. Our colleague the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, a fellow Yorkshire MP himself, knows just how much one of these innovative economic zones could change the economic face of the areas we represent;soon, he will announce 10 new Freeports across the UK.
That is why, along with a large number of MPs and leaders from across South Yorkshire, we’ve written to the Chancellor today to urge him to take a close look at the recently submitted bid for a South Yorkshire Freeport.
A Freeport for South Yorkshire, based around Doncaster Sheffield Airport and the nearby iPort rail terminal, will help to support and grow our advanced manufacturing base, creating new opportunities, increasing employment and contributing to the levelling up that South Yorkshire needs and deserves. A Freeport could boost imports by £306m and exports by £410m, transforming the Sheffield City Region into a net exporter of goods by 2029. More importantly, 28,700 new jobs could be created, and these would be well-paid jobs, with wages around 19% higher than average because of the focus on advanced manufacturing. Overall, a South Yorkshire Freeport could unlock or accelerate over £570m of investment, money that would have a transformative impact on the area.
South Yorkshire has a proud industrial heritage and a proven track record of outstanding innovation. Our existing advanced manufacturing base already includes international names such as Sheffield Forgemasters, Liberty Steel, Hird Group, Boeing, McLaren Automotive, Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Siemens, but we have the potential to go even further.
That is why our Freeport bid is focussed on scaling up the number of high-paying, high-skilled jobs in manufacturing to create opportunity and improve everyone’s life chances. We want to tackle deprivation in our region, and raise living standards by integrating development into the wider economy. We want to reconnect our constituents with the benefits of economic growth and make the global economy work for them.
We want to make good on our promise to those who voted Conservative for the first time in 2019.
We believe South Yorkshire’s Freeport can become the largest advanced manufacturing hub in Europe. We want it to expand, create and support new and existing businesses and clusters of world-class innovation.
And it needs to be green, too. A Freeport can boost clean mobility and build and test cleaner, more energy efficient and renewable technologies, contributing to achieving Net Zero by 2050.
With its own Freeport, South Yorkshire can be a beacon for the UK and beyond, a visible sign of Global Britain, showing how levelling up can work for all our constituents, and demonstrating how innovative Freeports can drive growth and spread opportunities more fairly across our country.