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A bid to create a regional Freeport next to Southampton Airport (one of 8 in the UK), has been backed by Eastleigh Borough Council, estimated to bring 50,000 jobs to the area.

Cllr Keith House said: “It would assist in the future prosperity and financial sustainability of the airport. The Riverside site, with its excellent communications, is a major asset in the bid. If the Government is serious about ‘levelling up’ coastal economies, South Hampshire needs a vote of confidence when the Chancellor announces the results of the bidding process later this year.”

A Freeport is a secure customs zone where business can be carried out inside the UK’s land border. It simplifies customs procedures and reduces bureaucracy and tariff controls for both imports and exports; it also provides relief from duties and import taxes.

The 320-acre site stretches from the northeast corner of the airport to Bishopstoke Road. Its proximity to the airport, and the mainline rail and motorway network, make it an ideal location. The bid is supported by key regional players, including Hampshire County Council, 2 unitary councils (Southampton and Portsmouth), and 3 district authorities (Eastleigh, New Forest and Havant), as well as the New Forest National Park. Support also includes port operator ABP, Southampton Airport, and transport companies.