Plymouth and South Devon Freeport given the green light

The University is driving the project’s innovation strategy and will work across the marine, maritime, defence and manufacturing sectors

Plymouth and South Devon Freeport given the green light

The Plymouth and South Devon Freeport – which will create thousands of jobs and transform how businesses can operate in the region – has been formally approved by the Government.

The announcement unlocks millions of pounds of grant seed funding and enables eligible businesses to join and take advantage of the Freeport status.

It also means new employment land can be bought forward and will accelerate the formation of advanced manufacturing clusters, leverage £250m of private sector investment, and support a new £30m Innovation Centre at Oceansgate.

The Freeport plan builds on the region’s status as a centre of excellence for marine, maritime, defence and manufacturing innovation and expertise.

It will also harness and expand its work in nationally critical sectors including marine autonomy, maritime net zero, offshore renewable energy, maritime logistics, and digital oceans.

The plan has been developed by a consortium including Plymouth City Council, South Hams District Council and Devon County Council working alongside Babcock, Princess Yachts, Carlton Power, and the Sherford Consortium. It is also supported by a wide range of stakeholders including the University of Plymouth and University of Exeter, Plymouth port operators, skills providers, and the Heart of the South West LEP.

The University of Plymouth will chair the Freeport Innovation Board and is driving the project’s innovation strategy, working alongside the University of Exeter, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, City College Plymouth, Babcock, and Princess Yachts.

Its work will harness the work carried out through existing initiatives involving the University such as Smart Sound Connect, the National Centre for Coastal Autonomy, and the Plymouth Marine e-Living Lab project.

Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Plymouth, said:

“The Plymouth and South Devon Freeport will create exciting opportunities here in the South West that can benefit the country as a whole. It reinforces the region’s place at the forefront of existing and emerging sectors including marine autonomy, digital oceans and maritime net zero. It also recognises their potential to transform how we use and understand the ocean, and the critical role it can play in the region’s future prosperity and global standing.

“Combining knowledge and engagement for impact is embedded in the University’s ethos. Our internationally recognised expertise in marine and maritime research, innovation and skills development has a long history, and has been shown to deliver real and lasting change. The Freeport initiative gives us the opportunity to build on that, working with our partners to harness the innovation and investment that will enable Plymouth and South Devon to thrive now and in the future.”

Harnessing the region's key strengths in marine, defence and advanced manufacturing, and supporting the burgeoning space sector, the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport will enable innovators and investors from across the world to test, trial and take to market cutting-edge technology and products.

Working with the Department of International Trade, a dedicated team of experts will showcase the Freeport to global investors and businesses who fit the criteria to expand or relocate to the region.

Businesses that are part of the Freeport can take advantage of a range of tax and customs benefits and incentives to support growth, innovation and investment in the South West, including business rates relief, employer National Insurance contributions rate relief, stamp duty land tax relief, capital allowances, VAT and tariff benefits and simplified import procedures.

Approval now enables interested businesses to begin taking the first steps to contracting, designing and planning their place within the Freeport with the Freeport team, landowners and partners and discuss the myriad benefits this presents.

Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison MP said:

“Today is a historic day for Plymouth, South Devon and beyond, as the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport gets up and running to drive growth and innovation locally and nationally. The Freeport is going to shape the fortunes of the Plymouth and South Devon economies by pumping up to £100 million worth of investment across the region. We are maximising the opportunities of Brexit to drive growth and throw our doors open to the world.”