THAMES Freeport is experiencing sky high demand from businesses wanting to relocate to its investment zone, as the influx looks set to transform the economic fortunes of the Thames Estuary in the 2020s. That is the verdict from Ford, DP World and Forth Ports on the 12 month anniversary of the Government’s announcement that it would be one of the first eight freeports nationwide. The sites have experienced unparalleled demand, with an array of businesses from a diverse range of sectors seeking to take advantage of the substantial financial incentives offered by freeport status, including zero stamp duty on leases, significant savings on employer national insurance contributions, accelerated capital allowances and a five year business rates holiday. DP World recently revealed that a third leading business in four months will be locating at its port-centric logistics park, with construction underway on a second speculative unit in less than a year to meet unprecedented demand for quality warehousing space in South-East England. With the announcement that a new £300m fourth berth at London Gateway – one of Europe’s biggest infrastructure projects – will create even more capacity for the world’s largest vessels, the case for investing keeps growing. Similarly, expansion at the Port of Tilbury shows no signs of slowing. Built and operational during the height of the pandemic, Tilbury2, the new 160-acre port terminal handles containers and trailers with exports and imported goods, including food, drink and medical supplies to and from continental Europe on P&O Ferries’ busy Tilbury-Zeebrugge freight route. Commenting on the one year anniversary of freeport shortlisting, Rt Hon Ruth Kelly, Chair of Thames Freeport, said: “The growth at our manufacturing and logistics cluster continues to go from strength-to-strength, as businesses fast track their investment decisions to be located at Thames Freeport.” Ernst Schulze, Chief Executive of DP World in the UK, added: “We have seen the best year for new business in a decade at our port-centric logistics park, which is the size of 400 football pitches and will soon become home to a workforce 10,000-strong. We can work with customers on their building requirements of up to 1 million square feet and deliver bespoke solutions via a 28 day planning agreement with the local council.” Charles Hammond OBE, Chief Executive of the Forth Ports Group, said: “As London and the South-East grows, so does Tilbury. Customers continue to prioritise our operations as a fast and efficient low carbon distribution route to the UK’s growth markets. Over the coming months, we will complete our new 160-acre port, Tilbury2, and begin work to prepare further land for substantial development to satisfy strong customer demand.” Thames Freeport is an economic zone connecting Ford’s world-class Dagenham engine plant, the global ports at London Gateway and Tilbury, and many communities in urgent need of ‘levelling-up’. 20% of the UK’s most deprived communities are in London and the South East. Businesses looking to expand are being urged to take advantage of the tax benefits of relocating to the Freeport and being part of a customs zone, which will enable the businesses to continue to have low friction trade processes with the EU and global markets. No location can match Thames Freeport for access to rail, road, river and international maritime routes. Comprising Britain’s most globally connected ports and logistics park and Ford’s world-class engine plant, Thames Freeport represents a faster, more cost-effective, and more environmentally responsible way to service domestic and European markets. Ford Dagenham is London’s largest manufacturing site. Tilbury is home a state-of-the art training simulator suite, which, when coupled with the dedicated Skills Fund, will help upskill new employees across the Thames Freeport sites.