Hornchurch and Upminster MP, Julia Lopez, has welcomed the Chancellor’s decision this month to back a new freeport in the Thames estuary. The Thames freeport – a joint venture between London Gateway and Tilbury Ports with Ford in Dagenham – will be one of eight new freeport areas across the country. Freeports are special economic zones that make it easier and cheaper to do business, and the Thames bid will be an ‘automotive hub’, focused on developing electric and autonomous vehicles and other green technologies.
Confirmation of the Thames freeport came in March’s Budget and will see jobs, investment and regeneration opportunities channelled into the Thames Gateway region, to the benefit of thousands of residents in Essex and North East London. Last year, Julia met Ford, port operator DP World, and Basildon and Thurrock MPs to support the joint bid. The bid also received the backing of the Thames Estuary Growth Board, which works to unlock the economic potential of the region. The Estuary offers unique advantages to businesses thanks to its proximity to London, excellent transport links and the river itself – a thriving hub for import and export as the UK makes use of new economic flexibilities outside the European Union.
The freeport will deliver on the government’s Levelling Up Agenda to provide economic opportunity to communities that need it. Integration with Ford and their technology to electrify, connect and automate vehicles will also support the transition from petrol and diesel vehicles to hybrid or electric alternatives, improving air quality in the area.
Welcoming the announcement, Julia Lopez MP, said “I am absolutely thrilled that the Thames freeport bid was designated as one of the Government’s first freeports. I pledged at the 2019 election to deliver the kind of regional development that could provide local jobs, skills, and investment in industries of the future. This is a fantastic boost for East London and Essex and charts a new course for our country as we recover from Covid and look towards exciting post-Brexit opportunities. I hope that my constituents in Hornchurch and Upminster will benefit from the transformation this freeport will bring.”