The Freeport is on Track Following Review

The Plymouth and South Devon Freeport has the potential to benefit residents in the South Hams – that’s the conclusion of a thorough review into the risks and opportunities of the project.

A report by our Audit and Governance group has also made several recommendations to manage any possible risks.

Following an in-depth discussion at our Executive meeting today, Members considered the report and agreed to include it in an update of the Freeport to Full Council.

The review recognised the importance and scale of the projects as well as the positive impacts it would have for the region. Our Council is a founder member of the Freeport alongside Plymouth City and Devon County Council, and will be focusing on improvements to the environment, the green economy with ethical, inclusive and sustainable opportunities for small businesses, and well-paid employment within the South Hams area of the Freeport.

The report acknowledged that concern had been expressed by some residents, therefore there is greater need for a programme of communication and engagement within the community.

Our Executive Member for Economic Development, Commercial Strategy and Governance, Councillor John Birch, said: “I am pleased with the findings of the Task and Finish Group who have delved very carefully into the financial implications if something were to go wrong with the investment into the Freeport, but also into the opportunities open to us as a council and a District.

“There are clear outcomes for collaborative working that will help not only our net zero ambitions, but also, importantly, the economy. This is our largest economic project for the South Hams – improving local skills and jobs in our communities. We need to remember this is a 25-year project and it is still in its infancy and we must play our part in its development.

“We recognise that we need to explain clearly what we are doing and what this means for the South Hams. We understand that some residents may still have their doubts and we want to be open and transparent to show we are considering all the risks and opportunities of this project.”

To help our residents understand more about the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport, we have published answers to frequently asked questions. These can be found on our website.

The Audit and Governance Committee’s Task and Finish Group report can be found on our Democracy pages.