Joint freeport action plan progressed by Derry & Belfast ports

Members of the Governance and Strategic Planning Committee recently received a report updating them on the freeport discussions with Belfast Council, Foyle Port and Belfast Harbour and the current progress towards a joint submission to Government.

The partners have been working together and also with wider stakeholders to sift through the available information and agree an action plan to move forward.

A terms of reference has been agreed in order to get some expert assistance in drafting a unique proposition that will work within the Freeport concept but be different from what has currently been proposed for the rest of the UK. Belfast Harbour have agreed to take the lead on procurement and it is anticipated that the winning consultant will produce the final report within two months of appointment.

The cost of the report will be equally split between the four partners and is budgeted to be £20,000 per partner.

Foyle Port in Derry.

DUP Alderman Ryan McCready called on Council ‘as a local authority, to get behind this and drive it.’ He said: “I am happy to see some aspects of progression in terms of the formation of the four entities to have a joint bid and a more of a bespoke innovation zone/ freeport construct, something which we can exploit the best here given the fact we are situated in the north west and all the good things we can exploit through this and it is part  of the New Decade, New Approach so it is a commitment from government. I recall on countless occasions when we speak in the committees or Full Council, we do always bang on about the disparity between Belfast and here – economically, socially, the opportunities we miss out on – and with that comes a lot of negative tone with the UK government, Northern Ireland etc etc. The point is, here we have a vehicle to move forward, to create innovation hubs, to stimulate the economy, to create  meaningful and well paid jobs and actually be a real hub for the  world, for Europe, for locally here. So let’s drive it forward.”

Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter