by Martin Whiteley
Thames Freeport, a ground-breaking venture, stands as a unique, once-in-a-generation opportunity poised to redefine the economic landscape. Its transformative potential lies in its ability to stimulate trade, drive an energy transition, and uplift communities in London and its eastern boroughs. By harnessing innovation, Thames Freeport is positioning itself as a key player in powering the future economy.
Closer than any other enterprise zone to Europe’s largest consumer market – with 18 million people at its doorstep – Thames Freeport is not just a logistical centre but represents a faster, cheaper and cleaner way to serve both UK and European markets. The trio of tax sites – DP World’s London Gateway, the UK’s largest logistics facility; Port of Tilbury, one of the UK’s oldest ports; and Ford Dagenham, London’s largest manufacturing site – offers unparalleled global connectivity to over 130 ports across 65 countries.
Private sector investment exceeding £600 million has already flowed into Thames Freeport, set to create over 1000 new jobs. Noteworthy additions include Ranson, a Belgian food and catering products business, and Destiny Entertainments, specialising in importing and modifying audio and video products.
Beyond the bustling port terminals, Thames Freeport’s commitment to regeneration extends its transformative influence along the Thames. Collaborating with Thurrock Council, Havering Council and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, Thames Freeport envisions turbo-charging a high-tech industrial base along the Thames Estuary, unlocking new employment opportunities.
A recent strategic collaboration with The Seoul Digital Foundation exemplifies Thames Freeport’s global ambitions. The establishment of a Smart Cities Hub, set to commence in February with the arrival of several South Korean companies, highlights Thames Freeport’s commitment to fostering innovation and collaboration on a global scale.
Thames Freeport’s footprint encompasses a world-class industrial and innovation cluster taking shape along the River Thames. With London’s iconic food markets, Smithfield, Billingsgate and New Spitalfields relocating to its doorstep, Thames Freeport is poised to facilitate a new era of low-carbon, river-borne food and drink logistics – a critical response to global challenges in moving goods across major waterways.
The intermodal networks spanning river, rail and road, coupled with a commitment to decarbonisation and the circular economy, position Thames Freeport as the cleaner choice for investment and innovation in low-carbon logistics and manufacturing. The venture is set to reshape London’s supply chains, creating commercial value within a vibrant port-centric ecosystem.
An agreement with Verizon, a global leader in telecommunications, further cements Thames Freeport’s technological prowess, paving the way for the development of a network of private 5G innovation hubs.
Partnerships within Thames Freeport are pivotal in driving environmental sustainability. Over £2.5 billion has been invested in port and logistics infrastructure in the last decade, with a substantial £3 billion earmarked for future investment. This includes a new ‘all-electric’ £350m Berth Four in London Gateway providing a 25 per cent uplift in deep-sea trading. This commitment aligns with the endeavour to lower the carbon footprint of logistics across London and the southeast, taking substantial freight off the roads and on to river and rail.
Thames Freeport beckons businesses to not only thrive on a global scale but also actively contribute to the regeneration of areas along the Thames. The journey toward global success begins here, where trade meets innovation, and regeneration becomes a shared vision for a sustainable and prosperous future.
Martin Whiteley is Chief Executive of the Thames Freeport www.thamesfreeport.com