Freeport East was one of eight new Freeports announced yesterday (3 March 2021) by Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his budget speech.
Reacting to the news, George Kieffer, Chairman of the Freeport East Project Board, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen by the Chancellor as one of the first new Freeports in the UK for a number of years. Freeport East offers a unique opportunity to build a truly global trade hub at the same time as accelerating opportunities in green energy and helping level-up the economy. We look forward to working with Government to further develop our business plan and to realising the potential that this opportunity represents.”
Freeport East will be centred upon the Port of Felixstowe and Harwich International Port. Clemence Cheng, Executive Director of Hutchison Ports, which owns both ports, said: “Freeport East is the perfect location to develop a new Freeport. Its position on the main global shipping routes, and with frequent services over to Europe, makes it the ideal place to attract inward investment. It has 50% of the UK’s offshore wind capacity on its doorstep and, working with our partners we will help drive developments in green energy for use in the transport sector as well as across the wider economy.”
Freeport East is already working with Ryse-Hydrogen and EDF, operators and developers of the nearby Sizewell nuclear power station, to develop a Hydrogen Hub
Jo Bamford, Executive Chairman of Ryse-Hydrogen said: “The PM has said the UK will be ‘putting a big bet on hydrogen’ and the Budget’s green light for the Freeport East Hydrogen Hub is a major step towards delivering on these words. The Freeport East Hydrogen Hub will support the creation of thousands of green jobs and feature innovative uses in hydrogen for zero emissions buses, construction equipment, marine and agriculture. Crucially, these UK-made Net Zero technologies can be in use within 12 months and will place East Anglia at the forefront of the global hydrogen economy”.
Julia Pyke, Finance director of Sizewell C, added: “This is a great step forward for the East of England. The Freeport East Hydrogen Hub will deliver on six parts of the PM’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. The Chancellor’s commitment to Freeport East will now turbo-charge private investment in Net Zero nuclear and hydrogen technology across East Anglia and support the development of one of the world’s most exciting and innovative decarbonisation projects.
“We will now develop our hydrogen offering in close cooperation with the port and with the Suffolk councils in order to get national competitive advantage by pursuing things at scale and speed.”
Freeport East is centred upon the Port of Felixstowe and Harwich International Port, both operated by Hutchison Ports, part of the CK Hutchison group. Other partners include South East and New Anglia LEPs, Suffolk and Essex county councils, East Suffolk Council and Tendring District Council. It is backed by a wide range of businesses, business organisations and education providers.
As a pillar of the Freeport East bid, it could begin to create significant numbers of new jobs within the next 12 months and will demonstrate the UK’s Net Zero capabilities in the build-up to COP26.
The project – which will be delivered in partnership with Ryse-Hydrogen and Sizewell C developers, EDF – will at its peak produce 1GW of hydrogen – 20% of the 5GW target in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
Freeport East is centred on the Port of Felixstowe and Harwich International Port, both operated by Hutchison Ports, part of the CK Hutchison group. Other partners are South East and New Anglia LEPs, Suffolk and Essex county councils, Mid Suffolk District Council, East Suffolk Council, Tendring District Council, Harwich Haven Authority and the Haven Gateway Partnership. It is backed by a wide range of businesses, business organisations and education providers.
It is predicted that Freeport East will generate 13,500 new jobs, investment of over £500m. and provide a £5.5bn economic boost over a 10-year period.
Commenting on the plan, George Kieffer, Chairman of the Freeport East Project Board, said: “Green energy is at the heart of the Freeport East proposition. The development of the Hydrogen Hub, and the involvement of serious partners in Ryse-Hydrogen and EDF, shows that ours is a proposal backed by real substance. By creating a hotbed for green energy innovation Freeport East will create high-value jobs helping drive regeneration both locally and nationally.”
Jo Bamford, Executive Chairman of Ryse-Hydrogen, said it would rival the world’s biggest ‘green’ projects. “Incredible things happen when like-minded industries join forces,” he explained. “The Freeport East Hydrogen Hub will be seen as a global ‘heavy-weight’ decarbonisation project, with delivery achievable within 18 months due to the significant private organisations involved, and the pace at which they are able to begin investment.
“The Government wants to kick-start a green recovery and it is projects like this one which can deliver. In addition to hydrogen production and zero-emission transport at the ports, it contributes to the nuclear power programme, will use power from wind farms off the East Anglian coast, will drive innovation and promote green maritime – that’s six boxes ticked of the PM’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.”
Julia Pyke, Director at Sizewell C, said: “Using reliable nuclear power from Sizewell B and C alongside renewables, Freeport East has the potential to host one of the most exciting ‘green’ hydrogen schemes in the UK. Suffolk has great opportunities to benefit from the combination of its nuclear and renewables industry, its ports, and the construction of Sizewell C using hydrogen vehicles wherever possible, to build a hydrogen economy and be at the forefront of this exciting development.”
Clemence Cheng, Managing Director, Hutchison Ports Europe, said: “The development of the Hydrogen Hub will allow the Port of Felixstowe and Harwich International to lead in the development of alternative fuel port equipment. Establishing a test-bed to showcase hydrogen’s potential in a port environment will establish the UK as a clear leader in developments that will help address climate change and the net-zero agenda. “With the largest road, rail and maritime freight hub in the country as part of our bid, we have the scale necessary to secure the early take-up of hydrogen power across the freight and maritime sectors.”
Source: Freeport East/Norfolk & Suffolk