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Thames Freeport bid submitted to the government

One local politician has warned the freeport may increase the risk of financial crime and money laundering (credit:  DP World and Forth Ports)

A bid to create a Thames Freeport has been submitted to the government today. 

The proposal would grant freeport status to the Port of Tilbury, Ford’s Dagenham engine plant, and London Gateway. 

It means those areas would benefit from tax reliefs, simplified customs procedures, and a streamlined planning process that is aimed at boosting redevelopment. 

The Thames Estuary Growth Board estimates it could create 25,000 jobs, give workers the chance to upskill, and unlock £400 million in port investment. 

Estuary Envoy and Chair of the Thames Estuary Growth Board, Kate Willard OBE said: “The freeport is going to create great opportunities for skills, apprenticeships, and jobs.” 

Kate Willard says the freeport will promote green growth (credit: Thames Estuary)

People in Thurrock are expected to benefit from the project as it is currently in the country’s top 25 most skills-deprived areas.

Barking and Dagenham is also ranked in the top five local authorities for deprivation. 

However, not all local politicians are in favour of the bid. 

Dame Margaret Hodge, the MP for Barking, has spoken out against the plan and described freeports as a “failed policy”.

On Twitter, she wrote: “Tax cuts and light-touch regulation are no way to grow the local economy.

“They don’t create good, high-skilled jobs. They are a massive risk for financial crime & money laundering too.”

The Thames Estuary Growth Board expects the freeport to help with green growth. 

It will reportedly use net-zero technologies, such as hydrogen power and shifting freight from road to river, to create the “greenest estuary on the planet”.

“It is about making the logistics of moving stuff around greener and cleaner,” added Kate. 

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