The East Midlands Airport Freeport decision is a huge victory for Loughborough – here’s why

With the announcement from the government that the East Midlands Airport is to be designated a Freeport, the Chancellor has giving the Luff area a unique opportunity; but what does this mean, and will it matter for students

With the announcement from the government that the East Midlands Airport (EMA) was to be designated with new Freeport status, the Chancellor awarded the area crucial tariff free-trade and tax relief as well as other benefits, which will be unrivalled elsewhere in inland Britain. 

But what is a Freeport, and why will the 10-minute-drive-away airport, becoming one, benefit us as students?

The most crucial thing to understand about Freeport’s is that they are areas in which normal taxation and customs rules do not apply. This means businesses will be able to set up factories, warehouses and other high-infrastructure businesses with very little trade tariff restrictions on imports and exports within the zone.

Any businesses set up within the Freeport will enjoy business rates relief for half a decade, be allowed to avoid stamp duty payments and be given additional tax breaks on infrastructure development and investment.

East Midlands Airport, which is just a short train ride or drive from Loughborough, is set to became the UK’s only inland Freeport. Credit: Stephen McKay

According to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, “billions of pounds of private sector investment, generating trade and jobs up and down the country”. The government is seizing a prime opportunity to benefits from post-Brexit Britain; and act on its pledge to ‘level-up’ across the UK.

The benefits to Loughborough and the local area will be seen through greater investment and development of public infrastructures such as roads and public transport, with greater investment expected for the town to update and redevelop as part of the governments levelling up fund.

We can expect additional spending on green infrastructure from the private sector as part of the developments within the EMA Freeport area, which will be welcomed by the climate-conscious Loughborough campus, with additional benefits expected for investment from the sector within the University and Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park offering additional benefits to the local economy.

It is apparent to anyone who has been into Loughborough town centre, for some while now, that this type of local investment is necessary to help rebuild the high street and local area in a new 21st-century vision. Proposals are already underway with the Bedford Square Gateway Project, which intends to spend £2.6 million on greater pedestrianisation and the creation of a large public open space. The space, which is all on a single story, will be used for events, entertainment and the market, as well as additional facilities to encourage cycling.

Councillor Jenny Bokor, the lead member for Loughborough, said in LeicestershireLive last month: “The scheme will bring new life to this part of town which is good for shoppers, visitors and businesses.”

The introduction of the EMA Freeport can only bring positive growth to Loughborough, our community and the surrounding area, with opportunities for locals and students alike, and for investment in the facilities, we use daily.

We would like to know what you think Loughborough town would benefit from, as part of its investment and redevelopment plan, so message us on Instagram, and give us your views on what you would like to see.


In Article Image Credit: Stephen McKay via (Creative Common License)