Business leaders from across the Humber heard how the region has a ‘fantastic opportunity’ to deliver growth and jobs for local people, as an event exploring the subject kicked off Humber Business Week.
Organised by Marketing Humber, the hybrid in person/online event Global Humber: Local Opportunities, sponsored by Associated British Ports, discussed the impact freeports will have on the region and the role they will play in supporting the economic recovery, including new supply chain opportunities and the creation of high-quality local jobs.
High-profile speakers included:
- Dafydd Williams, head of policy, communications and economic development, ABP
- Lewis Atter, managing director, KPMG
- Neil Etherington, business development director, Able UK
- Paul Atherley, chairman, Pensana
The Humber freeport, one of only eight in the UK, is set to boost the region’s economy to the tune of £3.5 billion in investment and 7,000 high quality new jobs.
It is hoped the freeport will be operational by the end of 2021 and bringing in new jobs in 2022.
The Humber’s bid was the biggest alongside Teesside and will cover an area with a 30-mile radius taking in the ports of Hull, Grimsby, Immingham and Goole.
Dafydd Williams set the scene for freeport status in the Humber and UK, highlighting the impact it will have in supporting the economic recovery including new supply chain opportunities and the creation of high-quality local jobs.
He said: “Freeports are going to be one of the most important opportunities for economic growth that our region has to talk about over the coming years.”
“It is a fantastic opportunity and we have conservatively suggested that around 7,000 jobs for this area will be created. These aren’t just any jobs; these are jobs that are going to be based in manufacturing with skills and high-quality employment in this area.
“The knock-on impact on the supply chain around the area should have a fantastic boost to economic growth, not just in the Humber, but for our partners beyond in West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, across the north of England and indeed into the midlands.”
Mr Williams discussed the role of ABP in the bid: “ABP have been supportive of freeports as a concept for a very long time. For at least six years we have been involved in trying to influence public opinion and, in particular, the opinion of key decision makers in Government, that freeports are a potential route of opportunity to economic growth.
“ABP took the decision to step up and take the leadership on this; in two ways – one, to try and be a driving force to bring people together, and two, to put our hand in our pocket and pay for the work that we knew needed to be done.
“An encouraging message that I want to send out to everybody is the strength in the partnership that has been formed. It is a classic model example of how public and private organisations can come together. And how, in the Humber, collaboration can work very effectively.”
Presenting global examples of coordinated strategies which lead to prosperity and revealing how freeports drive economic growth and provide a platform for businesses who are both inside and outside of the tax and custom zones was Lewis Atter of KPMG, one of the world’s largest professional services firms.
He said: “KPMG has continued to support the Humber through the business case and delivery phase and of course we are really delighted that the Government not only selected the Humber bid as one of the eight successful English freeport propositions, but awarded the bid the top marks in all categories – the only bid to be so favoured.
“Clear thinking about how to maximise the value of this opportunity locally, regionally and nationally was a critical part of the Humber’s proposition to government, which reflected a unique characteristic to the Humber economy, the critical importance of the Humber playing a leading role in the transition to net-zero, and the challenges faced by particular Humber communities.
“In practice, this summer’s business case phase is likely to open the way to a rolling programme of site by site and end user approvals once necessary commitments on delivery and additionality have been secured. Clearly, having designed its strategy around this approach from the outset, the Humber is well prepared to be at the head of the pack.”
Able UK’s new facility, ABLE Marine Energy Park in South Killingholme, will be a bespoke facility covering the manufacture, storage and installation of offshore wind components within an anticipated new ‘world-scale’ industrial cluster.
Neil Etherington, business development director at Able UK, said: “A new-found confidence and collective spirit is set to shape the future of the Humber.
“Freeport Status, the AMEP OWMIS award and the embracing of Zero Carbon Humber by so many significant stakeholders, sees the stars aligning to enable a strong post-Covid regional response.
“For its part AMEP will see the development of up to 217ha (536 acres) of land and the construction of 1,349m of heavy-duty, deep-water quays, to develop a bespoke facility to serve the needs of the offshore wind sector. AMEP’s primary activities will cover the manufacture, storage and installation of offshore wind components within an anticipated new ‘world-scale’ industrial cluster. The quays will provide four adjacent installation bases with a likely annual capacity to install c. 4GW of offshore wind power.
“ABLE commenced the AMEP land assembly process in 1999 and obtained the planning permission – through a Development Consent Order – in October 2014. To date, including land development and acquisition the Group has invested £282 million at AMEP.
“In terms of job creation, it is anticipated that by 2030, 1,500 direct on-site jobs will be created, along with 1,500 in the immediate supply chain.”
Pensana is set to invest £100m in a new rare-earth separation facility at Saltend, Hull, which will create 100 jobs in a world-first sustainable supply chain for critical magnet metals used in electric vehicles and offshore wind turbines.
Paul Atherley, chairman at Pensana, said: “We were delighted to join Marketing Humber and begin Humber Business Week; a first for Pensana.
“Freeport status will greatly help Pensana establish the world’s first sustainable rare earth processing hub at Saltend, bringing back high value manufacturing jobs to the UK.”
The event also included a Q&A panel, with speakers joined by Humber Freeport bid director, David Gwynne. Attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions about how the Humber’s new freeport status could benefit business and the wider community.
Among the businesses represented was Yorkshire Energy Park. The facility, which is set to be on the 200-acre site on the former Hedon Airfield, also in the east Hull freeport zone.
Jo Barnes, MD of Sewell Estates, the local delivery partner behind the £200m Yorkshire Energy Park, said: “Humber Freeport status is vital for the prosperity of our region. It will further cement our position as the UK’s Energy Estuary and bring international investment, as well as job creation across a variety of sectors.
“With planning permission already secured and tenants ready to invest, Yorkshire Energy Park will deliver some early wins for our area, tackling the levelling up agenda through the creation of over 4,000 jobs. With preparatory works to ready the site for its first occupiers scheduled to commence in later this year, we’ve already seen a strong appetite from investors and potential tenants who are eager to take advantage of the tax incentives and capital allowances that the Freeport brings.
“As well as attracting national and international businesses to the region, we will also be creating business incubator space to support start-up businesses and SMEs, alongside an education campus that will help to train and develop the next generation of business leaders and professionals.
“As a key partner in the Humber Freeport, our vision is to create a next generation, carbon neutral business park that plays a huge role in revitalising the economy and generating valuable community impact.”
The next Marketing Humber-hosted Business Week event is Meet the Leaders on Wednesday, June 9.
Huge business opportunities abound in the Humber – but what impact will there be from the creation of separate political and business bodies on both sides of the Estuary with progress towards further devolution?
Join a facilitated Q&A session where the political leaders of the four local authorities across the Humber will come together to answer pertinent questions from the local business community. This will be a flagship Business Week event emphasizing the crucial importance of businesses to the region’s future prosperity, hosted by Thomas Martin, non-executive chairman, Arco, and chairman of the HEY LEP’s Business Engagement Board.
- Jonathan Owen, leader, East RidingCouncil
- Daren Hale, leader, Hull City Council
- Philip Jackson, leader, NE Lincolnshire Council
- Rob Waltham, leader, North Lincolnshire Council
- James Newman, chairman, Hull & East Riding LEP
Sign up for free here: marketinghumber.com/news-events/events/bondholder/meet-the-leaders/