The government has published the ‘Freeport Bidding Prospectus’. It sets out the government’s ambition for Freeports, its objectives and what is expected of bidders. Bidders wanting to apply for Freeport status in England should complete submissions by noon 5 February 2021.

This Bidding Prospectus is a guide for bidders entering that process and provides additional detail on the UK’s Freeports model, including geographic guidelines on-site design and size and how Freeport levers relating to customs, tax, planning, regeneration and innovation will work.

It also includes further information on tax breaks that will be made available.

The prime objectives for the Freeports are:

  • Establishing national hubs for global trade and investment.
  • Regeneration and levelling up.
  • Creating hotbeds of innovation.

The proposed model allows for multiple sites to be designated within the overall Freeport.

Essential Information required from bidders

  • Submit a proposed name for your Freeport. This should clearly distinguish it from any other potential Freeport proposals.
  • Provide name and contact details for the Senior Responsible Officer for the programme. NB: This will be the key point of contact for the government.
  • Please upload the following pdf files legible at A3.
    • One map showing your Freeport outer boundary, no points on which should be more than 45km apart, and the locations of the tax site(s), customs sites, and any other sites which make up the bid (e.g. infrastructure projects).
    • One map per customs zone defining its boundaries.
    • One map per tax site defining its boundaries (sites must be single and individual).
  • An ESRI Shapefile or Vector Geopackage version of each map needs to be provided.
  • Confirm you have communicated your plans to the landowners impacted by your proposed tax site.
  • For each customs site, please upload a signed letter from the site operator confirming that:
    • They are willing to be included in the bid.
    • They are aware that, should the bid be successful, as site operator, they will be required to obtain the relevant authorisations from HMG before the site can be designated as a customs site.
    • They are willing to undergo the authorisation process If the operator already has Her Majesty's customs authorisations they should state this in the letter.
  • Written confirmation of support for your bid from your local authority or local authorities and (if you have their endorsement) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
  • The letter must be signed by the leader of each local authority that is responsible for planning and business rates collection in whose area any of the proposed Freeport sites will sit. 
  • The letter should be also signed by the MCA and/or LEP to confirm their support for the bid and detail its alignment with the delivery of the areas prevailing economic strategy.
  • Where relevant, the letter should be signed by the leader of each local authority that is responsible for transport. For example, the County Council or MCA.
  • Is your bid a cross-border bid? If so, is any of the land covered by your bid also subject to a Freeport bid in another nation?
  • Does your Freeport propose any secondary customs sites outside the Outer Boundary?
  • Explain how your Freeport Outer Boundary represents a credible, coherent economic geography?
  • Provide a rationale for the primary customs site and any subzones, including:
    • What do you expect each customs site to be used for?
    • What outputs/benefits do you expect each site to generate?
    • How do they relate to each other and the wider Freeport?
  • Set out how you will meet the minimum standard of security and infrastructure required in customs and tax sites before being able to operate as a Freeport, as referred to in the prospectus.
  • Provide clear economic rationale for the tax site, including:
    • An explanation for the proposed location and why it represents good value for money.
    • How tax measures will generate additional economic activity.
    • How your proposed sites meet the criteria for being underdeveloped.
  • How does the tax site’s location mitigate displacement of local economic activity from deprived areas?

Another section requires more detailed bid information including:

  • The ability to deliver against the objectives of:
    • Establishing national hubs for global trade.
    • Regeneration and levelling up.
    • Creating hotbeds of innovation.
  • Deliverability of proposal effectively at pace.
  • A high level of private sector involvement in the proposal.

The Freeports’ Consultation was launched in February 2020 and the Consultation Response published in October 2020, set out a developed vision for UK Freeports and invited potential bidding coalitions to come together.

Useful guides on this topic

Freeport tax incentives
The government ‘Freeport Bidding Prospectus’ provides details of new tax breaks for business seeking to locate and operate in a Freeport.

Freeports consultation response
The government has published ‘Freeports, Response to the Consultation’, as it continues to develop one of its flagship policies on the creation of new freeports in England.

External links

Freeport bidding prospectus
This bidding prospectus is a guide for bidders competing for Freeport status in England.

Freeport clarification Q&A


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