The news that the UK's first freeports in Plymouth, Solent, and Teesside are now fully up and running is welcome and positive news for the economy.

Each of these freeports, which now have official sign off will receive up to £25 million seed funding and potentially tens of millions of pounds in locally retained business rates to upgrade local infrastructure and stimulate regeneration.

International law firm Womble Bond Dickinson has offices in all three freeports locations. Peter Snaith, partner head of Womble Bond Dickinson's Teesside practice and head of the national manufacturing sector team comments:

"This week’s announcement is a very positive step forward for economic growth. At a time when there are such limited funds to support investment, it makes good sense to focus on initiatives which deliver benefits in as many ways as possible and as quickly as possible for the local and national economy. Freeports will play a key role in creating tens of thousands of jobs, and driving economic growth and regeneration, with billions of pounds in investment, so I’m delighted to see that these projects now have the consistent backing and policy they needed to be able to progress.

"We are already starting to see how Freeports are attracting manufacturers and other inward investors to the sites, showcasing the benefits and potential the tax and customs sites can deliver. The news this week should only accelerate this progress and bring a much-needed boost to international trade and skills.

"Alongside the economic benefits, freeports are already providing the hotbed that can support the homegrown technologies for secure sources of renewable energy and carbon capture and storage. In doing so, the government is backing 'clean power' initiatives which are crucial for a sustainable modern economy.

"The scale of the projects is of such enormous scale that their positive effects will be enjoyed deep into the surrounding hinterland, which are now denied access to the support that was proposed for wider investment zones. To bring this all to fruition, we must come together as a business community and regional communities to back these projects and help to accelerate the plans to build skills and deliver real economic impact for the UK."

Nikki Jonas, partner in Womble Bond Dickinson's Plymouth office comments:

"I am delighted to see the positive news that the Plymouth Freeport now has official sign off and the government backing needed to accelerate development. The Freeport presents a unique opportunity to steadily transform the physical landscape, the economy and provide social regeneration here in the South West Peninsula. The announcement of £25m of investment to help the Freeport realise the benefits that were intended is a big leap forward for the region.

"The economic potential of a Freeport in the region cannot be underestimated – it is huge – and will play an important role in levelling up the UK economy and in strengthening the UK's trading position in this key strategic location. Freeports will help to drive the change needed to boost our skills, transport links and logistics infrastructure to allow our marine, defence, space and manufacturing sectors to truly flourish. 

"Our firm has been involved in Freeports for a number of years both in the UK and US and we look forward to continue advising clients to promote the fantastic opportunities they will bring to the regions and the UK economy as a whole."

This article is part of Womble Bond Dickinson’s Growing Global series. For more insights, click here to visit our Growing Global hub.