A letter written by Matt Beeton, Interim Chair for North East England Freeport in response to Nick King and Jake Berry’s article on 13 February in the Telegraph, has appeared in today’s Telegraph. Read the full letter below:
Sir. I would like to add to Nick King and Jake Berry’s article on 13 February, ‘Red Wall voters backed programme for radical change, now Tories must deliver it’.
Red Wall voters did indeed back the Conservatives and yes, The North – especially the North East – has serious deprivation. Covid has amplified these ingrained problems and Nick King is right, there needs to be a Northern Big Bang. Freeports are the vehicle offering the greatest prospect of achieving the energetic forces anywhere near the required economic magnitude. If anyone has any better ideas, we are all ears.
Some critics are questioning the value of freeports and basing their arguments on well-rehearsed issues that require mitigation. The 30 or so freeport bids submitted go way beyond simply providing a tax free customs gateway where the usual trade protections apply.
Our North East England Freeport is focused on building new clusters of industry centred around existing strengths like Nissan, battery production and renewable energy. The freeport is expected to attract £2.7bn in private sector investment to the region, 60,000 jobs and over £3.4bn GVA.
The north has wind – and plenty of it. Our nascent wind energy industry cluster is already flourishing. The Port of Tyne will soon be home to the base for the world’s largest offshore wind farm and Blyth is progressing a floating offshore wind demonstrator.
So how do we level up The North? We do it by uniting. We need to finish off freeports and deliver for the North East.
Matt Beeton, Interim Chair, North East England Freeport and CEO, Port of Tyne