Partners in the Thames Freeport have welcomed the project being given the official go-ahead to start operations.

Plans for eight new England freeports - special economic zones with different rules and lower taxes, geared towards encouraging investment and stimulating growth in the region – were revealed in the March 2021 budget.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed in his budget on Wednesday, October 27, the first designated freeport tax sites would be Thames, Humber and Teesside and those locations can begin initial operations from November.

The Thames Freeport zone connects the Ford Dagenham engine plant with the global ports at London Gateway and Tilbury, with a focus on developing automated and electric vehicles.

Proponents say it will generate more than £4.5billion in new public and private investment and create at least 21,000 jobs, with significant investment in infrastructure, training and skills.

Ford UK’s Dagenham plant manager Martin Everitt said: "As we move into our tenth decade of operation, the freeport will boost Ford Dagenham - London’s largest manufacturing site - as the company continues to evolve and grow its advanced technology solutions for passenger and commercial vehicles."

Barking and Dagenham Council is among a number of location authorities and other public sector bodies that have backed the Thames Freeport, which includes 1,700 acres of development land.

Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell, said: “This is a hugely promising project, not only for Barking and Dagenham, but also for the wider Thames Estuary and London economy.

“The Thames is the lifeblood of the capital and it’s exciting to see trade restored to the river, but this project offers more than simply opportunities for business; it will also offer local residents of all ages job openings and the chance to increase their skills and training.

“Barking and Dagenham has always been a borough at the forefront of industrial development and, as the Thames Freeport becomes a reality, our borough – alongside our partners – will once again help lead a new industrial revolution that will kickstart the economy of the freeport region."