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Teesside’s shipping industry has publicly acknowledged the importance of the region’s new Freeport status – both for the shipping sector and the wider region.
Following the announcement that Teesside has been identified as one of eight new Freeports in England, Gary Dawson, chair of the Tees and Hartlepool Port Users’ Association (THPUA), the region’s lobbying group for the shipping industry said: “This is a defining moment for Teesside, the government has unlocked a major opportunity and we now need to all work together to realise the potential that this can deliver for our industry and our region.”
The THPUA, which alongside local ports and shipping agencies, includes some of the biggest manufacturers in the region, was heavily involved in supporting Mayor Houchen in shaping his winning bid.
Mr Dawson said: “We provided knowledge and expertise from within our membership to assist the Mayor and the local authorities in developing a compelling bid. This included specialist customs expertise from one of our members, Casper Shipping. We also engaged with the Mayor’s office and his team of economists to identify suitable sites for inclusion within the Freeport to ensure it delivered maximum impact for the region.
“The strength of our membership has certainly been recognised in the final proposal - of the ten sites included within the Freeport, seven are actually THPUA member organisations, those being Liberty Steel Hartlepool, LV Shipping, PD Ports, Port of Hartlepool, Port of Middlesbrough, Teesworks and Wilton Engineering.
“I commend the Mayor and the local authorities for working closely with industry and listening to businesses views to ensure the best bid was put forward. I also thank the statutory harbour authority, PD Ports for the support they have provided by engaging the services of MACE to analyse the Teesside landscape and help define the optimum Freeport boundary.
“We have a strong community in Teesside and a particularly strong community on the river, so we need to use this to our advantage and continue to work together to ensure the Freeport delivers on all of our ambitions.
“This really puts Teesside on the map and has the potential to significantly increase our imports and exports, which will keep all of us on the river very busy for years to come. It will also undoubtedly result in more jobs in the shipping industry and within the new businesses that are now attracted to Teesside.”