THE driving forces behind a vast £4.5billion Thames Freeport say it could rival Dubai, triggering a decade of regeneration and investment in south Essex.

The three companies behind Thames Freeport – Forth Ports, DP World UK and Ford Britain – are investing £1billion to begin building the “port capital of the UK” at Tilbury.

It comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak awarded freeport status, which means goods arriving from abroad are not subject to the tax charges, called tariffs, that are normally paid to the Government.

UK businesses and companies across the world will be invited to make a base at Thames Freeport where land will be used to accommodate them in an area where customs and tax laws are relaxed.

The partnership expects to attract £4.5billion in public and private investments to grow the port over the next decade.

It will use new technologies to streamline the operation, minimising the impact on the environment and creating 25,000 new jobs in the process.

Big ambitions - Thames Freeport

Big ambitions - Thames Freeport

Explaining the advantages of a freeport Charles Hammond, chief executive of Forth Ports –the owner of the Port of Tilbury – said: “A freeport zone is where it’s easy for you to do business in terms of planning and investment.

“The opportunities you create utilise skills that contribute to regeneration and there are financial and tax incentives to enable you to do that.

“Everything you can think of is coming through the port operation so when you start to look at it that way it’s and easy conclusion to draw as to why it should be the port capital of the UK.

Mr Hammond added: “We’ve got three really successful businesses with the ability to invest and are collaborating successfully in an exciting new opportunity.

“Trade in and out of the UK has never been more important and it’s never been more important near the capital city.”

Ernst Schulze, chief executive DP World UK, part of Dubai-based DP World – which owns the superport in Stanford-le-Hope, said: “DP World has much expertise in freeports.

“Dubai is one of the biggest most successful in the world. The expertise we have as a company will be very good to bring to the UK.

Thurrock Gazette:

“We’re involved in all kinds of technology that we’d like to bring over here.

“Dubai is very big but the way it’s been done we can definitely bring over here. The situation is not quite the same but there is definitely the possibility to use the port-centric concept.

“There you have the port and you have a free zone and you have the city of Dubai.

“This type of thing you can have here as well. If the investments come in and the companies come we will be able to create something similar to what’s been done in Dubai.”

A business plan and an economic impact assessment will be finalised this year.

Expanding - Tilbury docks

Expanding - Tilbury docks