Deal

Road freight firm marks first anniversary in Dublin

Watch more of our videos on Shots! and live on Freeview channel 276

Visit Shots! now[1]

According to the Irish Exporters Association[2] (IEA), despite being fur years on since an agreed trade deal was established in preparation for Brexit, trading arrangements between the Republic of Ireland[3] and the UK are not as seamless as they once were. Addressing this issue, Europa Road - based set up its eight-person strong team in Dublin early in 2023, to provide local sales and customer service support for local businesses. Since then, the team, led by Branch Manager Elliot Watts[4], has grown its local customer base from a standing start and has invested in services, which includes a market-leading Money Back Guarantee, to achieve a frictionless movement of goods for Irish exporters.

Jamie Hedgecox[5], Europa Road Regional Manager said: "It's been a challenging few years for Irish businesses wanting to export to the EU who have had to navigate the additional administration and border controls in place post-Brexit.

Europa's Dublin teamEuropa's Dublin teamEuropa's Dublin team

"As a result, many were choosing to move their goods direct from Ireland to ports in the EU, as opposed to using the land bridge, which was causing longer transit times and significant delays to deliveries. "To provide a better infrastructure for exporters in the Republic, Europa set up its Dublin office. The branch complements Europa's Belfast branch, established in 2018 to show that despite challenges, goods could still be efficiently moved between the UK, Northern Ireland[6], Republic of Ireland and the rest of the EU.

"Our 1Hub in Dartford, the largest groupage hub in the UK, provides the most cost-efficient way for companies in Ireland to send goods across to mainland Europe. Added to which, the speed and the consistency of the transit times via this route have led us to apply our Money Back Guarantee[7] against it." Europa provides daily services inbound from Dublin to Holyhead, bringing around 300 trailers of goods a year across the Irish Sea.

This Guarantee, which came into force in May 2023, offers financial reassurance to local businesses during a time where soaring costs are creating uncertainty for Irish businesses[8]. Adrian Redmile[9], Branch and Sales Director at Europa Worldwide Group said: "Europa Road's mantra has always been centred around adapting to market changes quickly to provide the best support for our customers. We are the only logistics provider in Ireland operating with Money Back Guarantee on road consignments, meaning we are ideally and uniquely placed to ensure the continued international flow of goods for our Irish customers - as well as UK and European customers importing into Ireland.

"In an area where we had no local presence previously the team has thrived, having just celebrated its most successful month for volume of consignments after just one year. We have also increased our sales team to continue the search for Irish exporters needing greater support. It's great to know we have the knowledge and expertise of such a dynamic, dedicated and highly experienced team, led by Jamie and Elliot, and we're delighted to be celebrating this successful first year and look forward to seeing what's to come for 2024."

Europa Worldwide Group is an ambitious independent logistics operator with three divisions, Europa Road, Europa Air & Sea, and Europa Warehouse, and has been featured in The Sunday Times Top Track 250 for three years.

Europa has invested GBP5 million in its innovative market-leading product, Europa Flow, providing a frictionless flow of goods between the EU and the UK post Brexit.

The group employs over 1,400 people with 29 international sites in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Europe, Hong Kong, China and the UAE.

References

  1. ^ Visit Shots! now (www.shotstv.com)
  2. ^ Irish Exporters Association (irishexporters.ie)
  3. ^ Republic of Ireland (www.northernirelandworld.com)
  4. ^ Elliot Watts (go.skimresources.com)
  5. ^ Jamie Hedgecox (go.skimresources.com)
  6. ^ Northern Ireland (www.northernirelandworld.com)
  7. ^ Money Back Guarantee (www.europa-worldwide.com)
  8. ^ uncertainty for Irish businesses (www.irishtimes.com)
  9. ^ Adrian Redmile (go.skimresources.com)

Reflections on the Freeport meeting: will the Plymouth Freeport become an electoral issue for South Devon?

Blue-shaded area = Plymouth and South Devon Freeport area Image @stanfontan[1]

Friday 17 November saw the West Country Voices live debate on Plymouth & South Devon Freeport. Held within the spectacular St Mary's Church in Totnes, the event was attended by around 80 people in person and an even larger number online. The livestream was not without some problems, but it was an ambitious project, blending remote contributions from the panel (chaired by George Monbiot), freeport researcher, David Powell (based in The Hague) and questions from the audience.

It was an event put on in the public interest, at expense and effort from an independent citizen news provider and, as such, should be applauded. In that one event I felt there was more information and exploration of the Freeport issue than we have had from any public bodies or other regional media. I was a member of the panel for the evening.

I have been investigating the Freeport - as both a resident of South Hams and as a writer (for West Country Voices and the Totnes Pulse amongst other journals). I had been trying to get some straight answers from South Hams on their decision making and involvement for many weeks in the run up to the discussion. As well as answering questions from the audience, I made a statement outlining the research I had conducted and the unanswered questions that remained.

I have always made sure that I research something myself: no matter what others may say or claim on any one issue. I do not claim to 'have knowledge' of a subject unless I have pursued it myself. I do not put my name to other people's ideas or concerns unless I have explored them thoroughly from a sceptical, ground zero, party neutral, evidence based standpoint.

Until I received a copy of the SHDC Corporate Consultation in mid October, my knowledge was scant and I had little to go on, beyond being alerted to 'issues' with Freeports through a public event. I needed to find out for myself. As a result, my findings here are from my own experiences and questioning.

Here is the statement I made at the event on 17 November:

"Just a few weeks ago I read this year's South Hams Council Corporate Strategies. These key documents had surprisingly little to say on what the Council regards as, "one of the largest economic development projects undertaken in South Hams".

But there was a lonely glossy sentence that caught my eye: "Number 7 Primary Aim: to continue to maximise the benefits of the Freeport and the business it brings to our area." We've all been burned by the elusive 'Brexit benefits' so I was puzzled about what these Freeport benefits could be- especially as the Freeport is in its very earliest stages.

I dug deeper - combing through council minutes, agendas, addendums, and I emailed questions to many elements of the Council. I summarise my personal findings here:

  1. Transparency (lack of)
  2. Inconsistency (lots of)
  3. Benefits (still looking)

So let me start first with transparency: What do we residents know?

Personally, four weeks ago I knew very little. I was aware of the odd article on the formation of the Freeport over the past few years, portrayed in mostly glowing terms. Further reading revealed that cash-strapped, service-cutting Devon County Council had put a borrowed GBP15 million into the Freeport.

Cash- strapped, service-cutting South Hams has put in over GBP5 million. Perhaps - as for many of us- that was the full extent of my Freeport knowledge. But few of us - apart from South Hams Councillors - will have seen the picture that emerges from the minutes, council documents and agendas of the past two years:

The huge government pressure applied behind the scenes for Councils to take on the government's ideologically-driven, evidence-thin, Freeport agenda. The ongoing challenges of vanishing government council funding. Veiled subtexts contained deep in council minutes such as this one which says:

"[If the Council were to have no involvement in the Freeport it] would have ramifications with government and partners on other agendas, such as the County Deal." My investigations into the Freeport and South Hams show that someone, somewhere, wanted it to happen very badly. And the government leant on councils to make it happen.

So I started to put what I assumed would be a series of simple questions to the South Hams Council Executive. I have been told to wait until 30 November for a comment from the Council Leader, to be delivered during the time-pressured Council Executive meeting. But with the greatest of respect, I believe residents deserve more than a 'comment'.

In response to my questions, the Council couldn't even give me a simple date for when the South Hams public consultations on the Freeport had happened. I simply received no answer on that (despite asking multiple people, multiple times). My questions uncovered the fact that South Hams and Devon County Council had already signed a legally binding agreement to form the Freeport.

So I asked the Council to clarify the liabilities, costs and damages that could be incurred if they were to withdraw from this already signed agreement. There was no answer on this. My questions did however prompt a response from the Council that there had in fact been concerns and questions raised by Council members about this Freeport partnership.

So I asked the council to clarify what these questions and concerns were, and when they were raised. No answer. My questioning revealed that the Council had now set up a 'Task and Finish group' to report on the risks and benefits of the Freeport.

Puzzled about how it could happen that the Council would retrospectively need to investigate the risks and benefits after already committing to a legally binding agreement, I asked them whether the findings could have any possible impact on withdrawal, partial withdrawal or modification of the agreement already in place. I have had no answer. I asked the Communications team, I asked the Executive and key councillors, I asked the multi-hyphenated 'Directors' at South Hams, I cc'd the CEO.

I was then directed firmly to submit an Environmental Information Request (known as EIR) under Freedom Of Information (known as FOI). The problem is that EIR and FOI should be the last resort- not the first. Councils can easily redact information, or claim 'commercial sensitivity' prevents them from providing it.

South Hams also has a Scheme of Publication which would enable it to freely provide information of all depths, including consultations - if it so wished. One of the most common concerns raised about Freeports is one regarding transparency and scrutiny. The publicly-sanitised published Business Case for the Freeport of course has all 'commercially sensitive' information removed- making it virtually useless.

These issues go right to the heart of the problem with public/private partnerships. In practice, the corporate confidentiality of private companies trumps our public access to information. We have no sight of the Freeport's regulatory and legal protections for environment, planning and rights.

We all know that already the government is dropping regulation at the rate of knots in all aspects of our lives - even human rights law is now a target. All we have regarding the Freeport is the word 'assurance' from the Council. I think we would be wise to demand actual evidence.

Throughout my dealings with South Hams, I have been led to believe that the 'Freeport deal is done.' (Remember this idea of a 'done deal' - it's important for later.) Totnes Town Councillors got the same treatment just a few weeks ago with their first meaningful engagement on the Freeport from South Hams: a slide presentation on the Freeport, followed by questions on what was made clear to be a 'done deal'. So if it is 'done', just how good is this Freeport 'deal' we are signed up to?

Fuzzy language surrounds the South Hams description of the Freeport partnership: the Freeport documentation is peppered with a word salad of Net Zero 'ambition'. South Hams states it is thrilled to have 'an 'opportunity' ... to shape the goals and the work of the Freeport to the priorities of the Council" in which the Council is ""encouraging" the Freeport company to provide comprehensive reports on its activities to the local communities" It's becoming clear to me, at least, who wears the trousers in this legal partnership - and who may have failed to ensure they were wearing any trousers in the first place.

It's also clear that there is no legal obligation for the Freeport to provide comprehensive reports to us. Another question: How was the boundary of the Freeport - that reaches right across Dartmoor - decided?

The Freeport Bidding Prospectus states in relation to the 45km boundary limit: "This means that, unless a very strong case is made [with] clear economic rationale for why the Freeport Outer Boundary is defined as it is [it] will fail the bidding process. Bids judged to be designed simply to maximise the area contained within the Outer Boundary without clear economic rationale [will fail]"

So what was the very strong case that was made forcefully enough to succeed in the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport bid? Will South Hams or Devon County Council let us see this strong economic rationale to include the whole of Dartmoor within the Freeport boundary? There are three sites involved with the Freeport:

The South Yard site - located near the Port The Langage site - in close proximity to the A38 Expressway The Sherford site - located on the opposite side of the Expressway to Langage

There should be no doubt how important Langage is to the whole enterprise. In fact, the Freeport proposal trumpets Langage as its green hydrogen centrepiece. But it seems there are already problems with this site and information on what exactly is happening is scant.

Digging back into Council documents, I found a council report from September 2022 on the Approval of making a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for Langage land. It states, "The CPO Land at Langage is integral to the success of the Freeport.

As set out in the Freeport [] Full Business Case, the Langage site including the CPO Land cannot be replicated anywhere else. A detailed triangulation of the Freeport... was undertaken at the very start of the Freeport Bid. This showed that the inclusion of South Yard, Sherford and Langage were a) all required to hit minimum area thresholds and b) were the only allocated sites that were policy compliant and deliverable within the timeframes required."

So I think we should be told: what is the timeframe for Langage? Is it falling behind? Is the Compulsory Purchase Order going ahead?

Are there issues with this land? It looks like Langage is holding things up. Because in September '22 there was clearly an issue, and one that demanded the major step of a Compulsory Purchase Order.

So it's clear that Langage is critical to the Freeport, and that without absolute clarity to the contrary from the Council, we should assume that Langage remains a risk. And this also then calls into question the Council's assertion that the Freeport 'is a done deal'. Because on the basis of this Council document, without Langage- there is no Freeport.

The deal is not done until Langage is done. That means we could have problems on multiple fronts with what the Council is or is not letting us know:

  1. Langage could present an existential risk to the Freeport
  2. The Freeport deal may not be 'done' and, therefore, that impression or statement should not be made, as it would be incorrect
  3. What further commitments - financial, planning, capacity and resource - are cash-strapped South Hams and cash-strapped Devon County Council going to have to commit to make Langage actually happen , as it must, to have the Freeport?

And there are further questions, too: Will the Langage site ever deliver the green hydrogen plant that forms the Freeport centrepiece?

There's precious little hard information on this, either. And how are vehicles going to be accessing sites such as Langage? Will it be necessary to build additional roads and structures?

There are cost, planning and environmental considerations- a road has to cross multiple pieces of land. How much delay should we expect? How much is all this delay going to cost- and who will end up paying?

Because time is another issue with the Freeport. The Financial Times reported the news (ahead of the Autumn Statement) that Jeremy Hunt was looking to extend some of the tax breaks for Freeports from 2026 to 2031. [Which he has done. Ed] According to the FT,

"experts, executives and regional leaders were concerned...that the [Freeport] policy as drawn up represented a "cliff edge". Companies that sign up to build premises in a freeport may still take several years to gain planning permission, construct their factories or warehouse and for them to become operational."

Financial Times

It's as if they were talking about Langage itself. Uncertainty is a terrible thing for a highly ambitious economic development project.

It cannot live or die dependent on a government ideology. At the moment the whole Freeport edifice is built on the thin air of tax breaks and favourable business conditions. If governments turn left - what next for the legacy agendas of the hard right?

And meanwhile I am still waiting for an answer from the Council on these elusive Freeport benefits I've enjoyed this year. And now you need to realise something clearly. In the eyes of the Freeport, we are not stakeholders.

Yes, the Freeport involves South Hams land and infrastructure. Yes, it uses (so far) over GBP5 million underwritten by you and me from South Hams and GBP15 million from Devon council. Yes, it involves legal obligations and costs and damages that can be levied against our cash-strapped council.

But us? No. Residents are not technically stakeholders.

Plymouth City Council, Devon County Council and South Hams District Council are. The Universities of Plymouth and Exeter are. Princess Yachts, Carlton Power and Babcock International are.

The Port Operators, the Ministry of Defence are. But you and me? We are not.

The stakeholders have been on the inside of information and documentation on the Freeport all along, for years. And meanwhile, underwriters to this scheme - South Hams Council and Devon County Council - face unprecedented reductions in government funding. On its own website, South Hams states,

"The Council has taken a hard look at where it can save money to keep balancing the books." One might remark that this 'hard look' has been cast more on its residents than the private pockets of the Freeport partnership. Meanwhile, South Hams Members and officers have multi-hyphenated job roles and titles that are so long they require semicolons.

This appropriation of resource and capacity to serve the Freeport makes me wonder if resource and capacity is not serving other council functions or the needs of its residents. In Summary I'm not into conspiracy- just transparency, value for public money, and the desire for clarity on what we should expect from our elected Council leaders.

The levels of dismay amongst residents and Councillors is concerning, and indicates a substantial mishandling of engagement. It's indicative of a lack of meaningful consultation and the transparency that that would have brought. I want to end by quoting from Princess Yachts' website.

For those who don't realise, Princess Yachts are a key, private company in this Freeport 'partnership' whose access to the Freeport's favourable business conditions - who knows- may have contributed to it being snapped up by a US based private equity firm earlier this year. If you go onto their website you are greeted by these words; "Your yacht is an extension of yourself.

A statement of your lifestyle. She needs to deliver unforgettable experiences for you, your family and friends." That's what Princess Yachts are about.

But for the residents of our cash-strapped Councils, their core business and concern is not yachts. The 'extension of ourselves' ,as residents, are our sick relatives, children in care, families living in poverty and substandard housing, a mental health crisis amongst the young, a collapse of social care for people with disabilities, the crumbling of educational infrastructure, the degradation of the environment and vanishing public spaces, the elderly relatives unable to get warm, eat hot food, or even have company. The only 'unforgettable experience' our Council should be concerned about is providing dignity, wellbeing and quality of life to its residents.

And it is the great tragedy of this Freeports 'partnership', that even at this incredibly early stage, our Councils seem compromised in their core purpose, their openness, and their democratic duties. And our Council - South Hams, who were invited to participate here this evening- isn't even here to help us understand quite what it is they signed us up for. "

My 'presentation' as a panellist ends here. Please note that at the end when I stated that South Hams Council had not turned up to speak on the panel - I meant key members with specific responsibility for the Freeport or who could speak on behalf of the Council itself.

Cllr Jacqi Hodgson was on the panel with me and clarified a number of issues from her perspective as a Green Party Councillor who was herself seeking many answers. Cllr Hodgson states she has been highlighting concerns to the parish councils she reports to since last year, as well as issuing other reports to local newsletters. The Green Party included a call for a review of the Freeport in their South Devon Election manifesto for this May.

And on 30th November, as a Member of the Executive, she will be seeking a response to public concerns and continuing to challenge these Freeport proposals, asking 'How much will it cost to leave the deal'? Politics Throughout my statement above I attempted to keep specific party politics apart from the Freeport issue as much as possible in order to preserve focus for the evening on the details.

I have been collating on-the-record statements from all the main political parties for a series of articles I intend to write in which the political dimensions to the Freeport will need to be explored. I am ensuring all main political parties have time to respond so I can write with balance on party political standpoints on what could turn into a political issue of some gravity in the timeframe of an imminent general election. Caroline Voaden has already responded as Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, the Green Party have confirmed an imminent response.

I have emailed multiple contacts at Labour and await a response. I have emailed Anthony Mangnall MP for South Devon (Cons) and have as yet had no response. Questions From the Audience

After each member of the panel had conducted their positioning statement, George Monbiot chaired audience questions, all of which were invaluable and showed the need for urgent engagement from not only the Council and Freeport, but political parties, too. There was an interesting question raised regarding Labour's position on Freeports that I was unable to answer for reasons I clarify above. There was another thought-provoking question on whether councils were becoming effectively little more than 'contract managers' for 'the privatised state'.

The audience member asked, "Is there any point asking anything except what the national opposition parties are prepared to do to stop this march of capitalism?" Key Liberal Democrat Councillors in the Audience I had noted from the start of the meeting that the Leader of South Hams Council (and Chair of the Executive), Cllr Julian Brazil, was present and sat at the back of the audience throughout the meeting.

I chose not to highlight this fact as I felt it was his decision whether to engage or not, and I was at least glad that he was there, at least. Cllr Julian Brazil had been invited by West Country Voices to join the panel as someone who could speak on behalf of the Council, and with some knowledge of the Freeport. And then, right at the end of the event, a Liberal Democrat Councillor stood up to lay out a few points.

This Councillor had Chaired the Task and Finish scrutiny group I had mentioned in my statement above. The Task and Finish group's role was to independently scrutinise the risks and benefits of the Freeport on behalf of the Council. First, I was pleased that another Councillor had chosen to speak.

He acknowledged that, prior to May this year, the engagement and transparency with the public had been poor. And then he expressed his 'disappointment' that West Country Voices had not read out 'a statement' sent by email at 16:00 that same afternoon. That comment aroused deep misgivings for me.

What statement- and from whom? Was it a Council statement? A statement from the Freeport?

Or an additional statement from the Liberal Democrats (whose 'record' as the new administration we had just been discussing)? Comment by Proxy I was annoyed by the assumption that somehow West Country Voices were remiss in not reading an email that had been sent- without warning- late that afternoon.

This was against the backdrop that West Country Voices had been chasing both Freeport and Council for a panel member to be present to put the Freeport case. In addition, I felt it stank of being 'comment by proxy'. An emailed statement is by its nature a pre-selection of what questions to answer, and how to answer them.

A statement by email sidesteps genuine accountability. It was only after the event that I got to read the statement. And it transpires it was in fact a statement titled: "PASD (Plymouth And South Devon) Freeport Company response[2]."

My study of this statement, and reflection on the Liberal Democrat Councillor's reference to it, reveals to me the need for a whole new range of questions to be asked. You might think these questions are casting aspersions. If so, please respond so your voice can be heard!

They seem to me to be quite reasonable:

  • At the moment of expressing 'disappointment', who was the Chair of the Task and Finish Group representing? The Council? The Freeport?

    Or the Liberal Democrats?

  • How did he know about this statement ...Why did he know of the statement from the Freeport? Was the Freeport responding on behalf of the Council?
  • How much is the official Freeport response being channelled through the Liberal Democrats as a 'party line'? Is the Freeport influencing internal Liberal Democrat party politics?
  • How much are the lines being blurred between the Freeport position and the Council or Lib Dem position?
  • How much more do Lib Dem councillors know about the Freeport than other councillors, or residents?

You see, I believe that this gets to the nub of something really fascinating.

The Task and Finish group, as far as I am aware, should be an independent group that scrutinises the risks and benefits from an independent standpoint. Why would the Chair of this group even know about an official statement coming directly from the Freeport, let alone be 'disappointed' that it had not been read out? These are all interesting questions on the sequence of events.

Despite the Freeport statement - the big questions remain In my view for the most part the Freeport statement simply revisits information already available from the Freeport website and the redacted Business Case that has all 'commercially sensitive' information removed. But on the issue of Plymouth Freeport's 75km boundary (that sucks in Dartmoor), the argument presented in the statement still doesn't seem to stack up:

"Government required Freeports to be developed at pace and encouraged bidders to consider the use of Local Development Orders (LDOs). The three Local Authority members (Plymouth City Council, South Hams District Council and Devon County Council) did not wish to pursue this option for the PASD Freeport because the Joint Local Plan https://www.southhams.gov.uk/your-council/councilplans-policies-and-reports/policies/planning-policies/plymouth-and-south-west is already in place which had previously been consulted on extensively and had been signed off through the democratic processes of each Local Authority (LA). The Freeport's outer boundary is aligned to the Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan.

The PASD Freeport outer boundary was therefore drawn to reflect the geographic boundary of the Joint Local Plan, giving it a coherent economic rationale."[3] The 'clear economic rationale' required by the Freeport Bidding Prospectus seems to have been re-translated in the Freeport statement as a 'coherent economic rationale'. As I pointed out during the panel discussion, the Freeport Bidding Prospectus states in relation to the 45km maximum boundary limit:

"This means that, unless a very strong case is made [with] clear economic rationale for why the Freeport Outer Boundary is defined as it is [it] will fail the bidding process. Bids judged to be designed simply to maximise the area contained within the Outer Boundary without clear economic rationale [will fail]" I really struggle with the statement's reliance on the four-year-old Joint Local Plan (JLP[4]) as a rationale for the boundary based on the context of the JLP itself.

On page 5 of its 368 pages, the Joint local Plan states its purpose: "1.2 The key purpose of the JLP is to establish an over-arching strategic framework for sustainable growth and the management of change." So - it's stated purpose had nothing to do with tax sites, Freeports, special economic zones or freezones.

Interestingly, I note the next item stating: "1.3 The JLP excludes policies for Dartmoor National Park Authority. This is because the National Park Authority is preparing a separate local plan.

However both plans will be based on joint evidence." What does this mean for the reliance on the JLP being used to integrate Dartmoor within the Freeport zone, if in fact the National Park Authority has a separate local plan? The statement's argument for the boundary is neither strong nor compelling:

It's not an economic argument, it's a geographical argument. As a result, it doesn't seem to meet the conditions set out in the Bidding Prospectus. A 'coherent economic rationale' (what does that even mean?) is not the 'very strong case' required by the Bidding prospectus.

If it means that it's simply 'neat' because it's geographical, then that does not meet the Bidding Prospectus requirements, either. Remember: the Bidding Prospectus states, "Bids judged to be designed simply to maximise the area contained within the Outer Boundary without clear economic rationale [will fail]."

If the PASD Freeport or South Hams District Council is serious about transparency, I think we should expect them to release the relevant section of the Bidding Prospectus that was submitted; but I would be surprised if it was ever provided (unredacted), even under EIR or FOI, because of 'commercial sensitivities.' I would love to be proved wrong.

  • The Freeport statement's argument is based on the concept that the Joint Local Plan is a contextually similar proxy for further decision-making regarding the Freeport. The Joint Local Plan was consulted on in 2019 and it feels like a very stretched argument to claim that the Joint Local Plan (that was geographically based as it was a consultation on the whole area) should by extension form the rationale for a completely different entity - the Freeport - and its artificial boundary.
  • The Joint Local Plan was a consultation with an entirely different remit from the Freeport.

    In fact, please find any mention of 'Freeport', Freezone' or 'tax site' within the Joint Local Plan. I've looked, and I for one cannot find any.

  • There was clearly a deliberate choice made not to use Local Development Orders - and we should ask why this was, especially since the Joint Local Plan seems to bear little relevance to the new economic remit of a Freeport. Why was that deliberate choice made, and by whom?

There is much more to unpick from this Freeport statement- as there are still so many unanswered questions.

In particular I am interested in the fact that the Freeport statement reads, "Government required Freeports to be developed at pace". We need to find out why, on what decisions, by whom, and with what impact? Were Councillors given enough time to make big decisions?

Was the information they based these on clear? Judging by the fact we now have had a retrospective Task and Finish group looking into the Freeport deal, my feeling is - no. If anyone has any thoughts or intelligence that they wish to share - as a Councillor, resident or other party - do contact West Country Voices : [email protected][5].

Any information you may share will be looked into, in confidence. And, like many, I will be watching and listening to the South Hams Council Executive on 30 November and carefully combing through the documents provided to unpick further what this Freeport really means for all of us living in this area and beyond. And I will be looking closely for where this might lead politically - for all parties.

Because one thing is for sure: the Freeport is already proving a hotbed of controversy. We are all old enough and ugly enough to know that something that starts out mired in mud, only brings in more mud.

Call to action:

Democracy relies on the public (us) demanding transparency and accountability from our elected representatives. Use this tool[6] to find out who your elected local, South Hams, Devon County or Plymouth Councillor is.

Email them and ask your questions based on what you have read. Do they really understand the issues involved? Are they prepared to fully back the Plymouth & South Devon Freeport?

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References

  1. ^ @stanfontan (twitter.com)
  2. ^ PASD (Plymouth And South Devon) Freeport Company response (westcountryvoices.co.uk)
  3. ^ https://www.southhams.gov.uk/your-council/councilplans-policies-and-reports/policies/planning-policies/plymouth-and-south-west (www.southhams.gov.uk)
  4. ^ four-year-old Joint Local Plan (JLP (www.plymouth.gov.uk)
  5. ^ [email protected] (www.westcountryvoices.co.uk)
  6. ^ this tool (www.writetothem.com)

Coming to a village near you? The new motorways in the sky

For the first time since the golden age of aviation 70 years ago, the airspace over Britain is changing — to create 25-mile motorways in the sky.

A reorganisation is necessary because aircraft rarely take the shortest route between two airports, often zig-zagging along the way because of restrictions that have grown up thanks to vested interests and a lag in adapting to new technology.

The system was designed in the 1950s for aircraft that have long since retired, such as the VC-10, the Vickers Vanguard and Hawker Siddeley Trident.

They used ground-based navigation which is now redundant. Modern satellite systems and automation mean aircraft can be packed in on much more closely defined routes.

The new flight path for Gatwick could pass over Hever Castle, near Edenbridge, Kent — the childhood home of Anne Boleyn

The new flight path for Gatwick could pass over Hever Castle, near Edenbridge, Kent — the childhood home of Anne Boleyn

ALAMY

Flight paths for the busiest 20 airports in the country could be transformed so that aircraft could have their descents automated along channels about 480 metres wide.

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The plans could save time and fuel, reduce delays and cut noise for many villages and towns under flight paths.

But for those living underneath the new jet highways, the fear is that the noise pollution could be devastating.

Plans for the initial stage of this reorganisation, for Gatwick, were released earlier this month, giving the first insight in to how the changes may affect those living near airports.

Campaigners say aircraft heading to and from Gatwick could fly lower for longer

Campaigners say aircraft heading to and from Gatwick could fly lower for longer

NICK ANSELL/PA

Presently aircraft approaching Gatwick come from a range of directions to start their descent at 7,000ft, about 12 miles to the east.

But under the new plans they could start 25 miles out, further to the south, keeping traffic to one long channel. This is likely to mean, though, that there would be more aircraft at a lower altitude. Campaigners say aircraft will fly lower for longer, creating more noise and meaning the areas under the new flight paths will have more regular air traffic.

Sally Pavey, who chairs Cagne, a group which campaigns about noise from Gatwick, was alarmed to see proposals for new routes overflying the Horsham and Copthorne areas to the south of the airport. She said: “This comes with no compensation, no consideration to the impact it will have on home life or house value.”

Sally Pavey has expressed concerns about the new route over Horsham

Sally Pavey has expressed concerns about the new route over Horsham

PETER TARRY FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Another campaigner, Charles Lloyd, highlighted the threat to Cowden, a village in the High Weald area of natural beauty. He estimated the frequency of overhead aircraft could increase from one every 15 to 20 minutes in the summer peak to one every 100 seconds.

The new flight path could pass over Hever Castle[1], near Edenbridge, Kent, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.

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Its custodian, Duncan Leslie, has already moved out of the grounds after 15 years partly because of the noise from aircraft. He fears much more regular traffic, which could affect the number of visitors and the opportunities to make money from filming.

Leslie said: “When you hear the aeroplanes you can’t really escape them. Things keep you awake and the aeroplanes are particularly good at doing that. That bothers me, as it does some of our guests, and I dare say some of our guests might choose not to come again if they think there might be more planes.”

The Civil Aviation Authority has set up an industry body, Airspace Change Organising Group (Acog), to oversee the shake-up. The first phase will reorganise Scotland and the London terminal control area, which also includes Heathrow, Stansted and airports as far away as Bournemouth across the south of England.

Planners for Gatwick have said they are calculating how many extra households are likely to be troubled by aircraft noise in different situations. So far, those options affecting the greatest number are being ruled out.

Hever Castle’s custodian, Duncan Leslie, has already moved out of the grounds in part because of the noise

Hever Castle’s custodian, Duncan Leslie, has already moved out of the grounds in part because of the noise

PETER TARRY FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Campaigners say that at the moment it is difficult for the public to have a meaningful involvement because an official consultation does not begin until next year and the maps produced by Gatwick showing possible flight paths do not make clear how many aircraft would pass overhead, nor at what altitude or how loud they would be; indeed, they blur out the names of settlements on the ground.

Leslie said the process appeared to be intentionally obscure: “I’m sure they are thinking if we do this, [locals] will give up after a while, because they’ve got other things to do, which is kind of true.”

The plan for Gatwick is particularly significant because it is also seeking to add a second runway[2], to be in use by 2030.

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While the proposed changes to the airspace used for take-off and landing are still in the early stages, some remarkable work is under way for aircraft at higher altitude.

There have been changes to transatlantic flight plans. The old system sent planes on long detours — in one case of 578 miles — because aircraft could be plotted only every 14 minutes in the middle of the ocean and had to be kept 40 nautical miles apart for safety reasons. But with modern technology they can be monitored every eight seconds, meaning they can fly closer together and on more direct routes that make better use of prevailing winds.

A great deal is at stake for aviation, regarded as the villain of climate change for its high-carbon emissions. The administrative task of redesigning airspace to make flights more efficient is much simpler than introducing alternative types of fuels.

Yet progress has been tortuously slow. There was a hiatus during the pandemic, and while the changes are forecast to come into force at Gatwick by late 2026, completing the process is expected to take until at least 2033.

Now the plans for Gatwick have been released, campaigners in other parts of the country have begun to worry how the reorganisation will affect them.

Paul Beckford, co-ordinator for residents affected by Heathrow flight paths, said: “Airspace modernisation is going to impact millions of people around the country and the vast majority are simply not aware that the infrastructure above their heads is about to undergo a once-in-a-generation change.

“Tens of thousands of people have bought or may be buying a home over the next few years as these changes are implemented, without any knowledge of the potential economic, environmental and health blight that will be caused by noise pollution.”

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The CAA said in a statement that it would “deliver quicker, quieter and cleaner journeys and more capacity.” Acog said compensation would be considered for residents “where they experience significantly increased overflight”.

References

  1. ^ Hever Castle (www.thetimes.co.uk)
  2. ^ seeking to add a second runway (www.thetimes.co.uk)

French farmers take tractors back on the streets of Paris in new protest

Dozens of tractors drove peacefully into Paris carrying flags from Rural Co-ordination, the farmers’ union that staged the protest.

The protesters then posed with their tractors on a bridge over the River Seine with the Eiffel Tower in the background, before heading towards the Vauban plaza in central Paris, where they all gathered for the demonstration.

The latest protest comes three weeks after farmers lifted roadblocks around Paris and elsewhere in the country after the government offered more than 400 million euros to address their grievances over low earnings, heavy regulation and what they describe as unfair competition from abroad.

Protest by French farmers Farmers are demanding more government support and simpler regulations (Thomas Padilla/AP)

“Save our agriculture,” the Rural Co-ordination said on X, formerly Twitter. One tractor was carrying a poster reading: “Death is in the field.”

The convoy temporarily slowed traffic on the A4 motorway, east of the capital, and on the Paris ring-road earlier on Friday morning.

French farmers’ actions are part of a broader protest movement in Europe against EU agriculture policies, bureaucracy and overall business conditions.

Farmers complain that the 27-nation bloc’s environmental policies, such as the Green Deal, which calls for limits on the use of chemicals and on greenhouse gas emissions, limit their business and make their products more expensive than non-EU imports.

Other protests are being staged across France as farmers seek to put pressure on the government to implement its promises.

Government officials have held a series of meetings with farmers’ unions in recent weeks to discuss a new bill meant to defend France’s “agricultural sovereignty”, and which will be debated in parliament this spring.

Tractors parked on a square in Paris The latest protest comes three weeks after farmers lifted roadblocks around Paris (Thomas Padilla/AP)

The government’s plan also includes hundreds of millions of euros in aid, tax breaks and a promise not to ban pesticides in France that are allowed elsewhere in Europe. French farmers say such bans put them at an unfair disadvantage.

Cyril Hoffman, a cereal producer in the Burgundy region and a member of the Rural Co-ordination, said farmers now want the government to “take action”.

He said his union is advocating for exempting the farming industry from free trade agreements.

“They can make free trade agreements but agriculture should not be part of them, so we can remain sovereign regarding our food,” Mr Hoffman said. “Only in France do we let our farming disappear.”

French President Emmanuel Macron plans a visit on Saturday to the Paris Agricultural Fair, where he is ready to have a “big debate” with farmers and members of environmental groups, his office said.

Yet France’s major farmers’ union, the FNSEA, said on Friday its board decided not to participate in the debate because “conditions for a peaceful dialogue are not met”. The FNSEA staged another protest in Paris, near the site of the fair, on Friday afternoon.

The Paris Agricultural Fair is one of the world’s largest farm fairs, drawing crowds every year.

M27: Lorry involved in multi-vehicle crash burst into flames

The crash took place at around 12.30pm. It involved a number of cars and a lorry, which hit a gantry on the side of the westbound carriage way.

As a result of the incident, the motorway was closed for at least seven hours causing traffic chaos on the M27.

Daily Echo: At the time of the crash, a spokesperson for Hampshire police said: “We are currently at the scene of a serious collision on the M27 westbound.

“Officers have attended after reports shortly after 12.30pm today, Wednesday, February 21, of a serious collision at junction five.

“The road is currently closed between junction five and seven while emergency services deal with the incident.”

The police and Southampton[2] City Council asked road users to plan ahead as roads across the city became congested due to the motorway closure.

At around 8.00pm and after part of the westbound carriageway had been reopened, the lorry that had crashed into the gantry burst into flames.

The large fire was attended by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service.

A spokesperson for Hampshire & IOW Fire and Recue said: "A lorry that was involved in an earlier crash on the M27 westbound between junctions 5 and 7 has caught fire.

"Crews from Eastleigh[3] and Redbridge are in attendance.

"The investigation into the crash and the fire is ongoing."

References

  1. ^

Constance Marten’s partner told police the fugitive aristocrat was a ‘good mother’ and ‘would never do anything to harm a child’, court hears

  • Go deeper into the trial of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon with the Mail's acclaimed podcast The Trial. Click here[1] or find it on Spotify or Apple 

The partner of fugitive aristocrat Constance Marten[3] told police she was a 'good mother' and had 'done nothing wrong' when questioned about the death of their newborn baby, their trial has heard.

Mark Gordon, 49, and Marten are accused of killing their daughter Victoria in January last year as the couple tried to prevent her being taken away by social services.

Gordon and 36-year-old Marten were arrested in Brighton[4] some seven weeks after going on the run with the child, the court heard. 

The couple had spent nearly two months tent camping in the bitterly cold South Downs before Victoria, wearing only a onesie, allegedly froze to death. Her body was later found in a Lidl[5] supermarket bag inside a disused shed on an allotment.

Gordon told police he believed Marten was suffering from 'a post-traumatic thing' when Victoria died and that 'she would never do anything to harm a child', jurors heard today.

He claimed they had wanted to 'safeguard' the child, the 'whole thing' was for her and what happened could not have been predicted. 

Marten and Gordon, of no fixed address, deny manslaughter, perverting the course of justice, concealing the birth of a child, child cruelty and causing or allowing the death of a child. 

The partner of fugitive aristocrat Constance Marten (pictured) told police she was a 'good mother' and had 'done nothing wrong' when questioned about the death of their newborn baby Victoria, her trial has heard The partner of fugitive aristocrat Constance Marten (pictured) told police she was a 'good mother' and had 'done nothing wrong' when questioned about the death of their newborn baby Victoria, her trial has heard

The partner of fugitive aristocrat Constance Marten (pictured) told police she was a 'good mother' and had 'done nothing wrong' when questioned about the death of their newborn baby Victoria, her trial has heard

Mark Gordon, 49, (pictured) told police he believed Marten was suffering from 'a post-traumatic thing' when Victoria died and that 'she would never do anything to harm a child', jurors heard today Mark Gordon, 49, (pictured) told police he believed Marten was suffering from 'a post-traumatic thing' when Victoria died and that 'she would never do anything to harm a child', jurors heard today

Mark Gordon, 49, (pictured) told police he believed Marten was suffering from 'a post-traumatic thing' when Victoria died and that 'she would never do anything to harm a child', jurors heard today

Gordon, pictured alongside Marten in a court sketch from today, claimed the couple had wanted to 'safeguard' the child, the 'whole thing' was for her and what happened could not have been predicted Gordon, pictured alongside Marten in a court sketch from today, claimed the couple had wanted to 'safeguard' the child, the 'whole thing' was for her and what happened could not have been predicted

Gordon, pictured alongside Marten in a court sketch from today, claimed the couple had wanted to 'safeguard' the child, the 'whole thing' was for her and what happened could not have been predicted

Gordon initially refused to answer questions when he and Marten were arrested last year, the Old Bailey was told today.

In a March 2 police interview, Gordon started by saying he would give his testimony to a jury. A detective then told him that Marten had confirmed a baby who was found dead the day before was their daughter Victoria, the court heard.

Gordon was also informed that Marten had explained the child died after she fell asleep holding her but that he had advised her to say it was a 'cot death', jurors heard.

After consulting with his lawyer, Gordon said that 'barring a few nuances' that was what happened. He told police: 'It had to be very traumatic for her, you have to understand I love her. I love her.

'I would do anything for her and she loves children and that's our fifth child and we wanted to have that child.'

He told officers that he believed Marten was suffering from PTSD when the baby died after she fell asleep with her in her arms.

'She is a very special person. She's an awesome woman and she would never do anything to harm a child under any circumstances,' he said.

He added that Marten was a 'beautiful, intelligent woman' and he was a 'man who loves his wife'.

'I love her, I would do anything for her and we wanted to have that child, it's her child,' Gordon told police.

'She has actually experienced the post-traumatic distress and she was in a situation where she was quite vulnerable and that led to things that were never predictable on either of our parts.

'And it's an unfortunate, sad, very sad thing.'

 

In footage shown during the trial, Marten is seen keeping the baby under her coat before unzipping it and exposing her in east London on January 7 In footage shown during the trial, Marten is seen keeping the baby under her coat before unzipping it and exposing her in east London on January 7

In footage shown during the trial, Marten is seen keeping the baby under her coat before unzipping it and exposing her in east London on January 7

Jurors were shown little Victoria's face (centre) for the first time last month as her parents Constance Marten (right) and Mark Gordon (left) sat inside a kebab shop Jurors were shown little Victoria's face (centre) for the first time last month as her parents Constance Marten (right) and Mark Gordon (left) sat inside a kebab shop

Jurors were shown little Victoria's face (centre) for the first time last month as her parents Constance Marten (right) and Mark Gordon (left) sat inside a kebab shop

The heartbreaking moment the body of a missing newborn girl was found inside a Lidl supermarket bag has been shown at the trial of aristocrat Constance Marten The heartbreaking moment the body of a missing newborn girl was found inside a Lidl supermarket bag has been shown at the trial of aristocrat Constance Marten

The heartbreaking moment the body of a missing newborn girl was found inside a Lidl supermarket bag has been shown at the trial of aristocrat Constance Marten

The defendant insisted there was 'nothing sinister' or 'dark' and said that sometimes the media made things seem 'worse than what they are'.

Gordon told officers: 'What have I done that you don't think is right here?

'I have done everything I think right. If you listen to me, I have done nothing really wrong. I have supported my wife. Tried my best to be a husband. And I don't think she has done anything wrong, actually, in trying to take care of her child.'

He added: 'But I think in the circumstances, the car exploding, and you have to understand four children have gone to social services, she's a good mother and I don't think they had actual reason to do what they did.

'We had provision, lots of provisions, the baby was taken care of. But then she explained what happened and it was a very, very serious and unfortunate thing that happened and no one could ever have anticipated or looked into glass and see what happened and I hate that it happened the way it has.

'The fact is I do love her very much and I don't find her to be at blame at all because she was in post-traumatic stress.'

An image dated January 5, 2023 from the Metropolitan Police of Mark Gordon and Constance Marten's burning Peugeot 206 on the M61, which was played in court during their trial An image dated January 5, 2023 from the Metropolitan Police of Mark Gordon and Constance Marten's burning Peugeot 206 on the M61, which was played in court during their trial

An image dated January 5, 2023 from the Metropolitan Police of Mark Gordon and Constance Marten's burning Peugeot 206 on the M61, which was played in court during their trial

A picture presented during the trial, shows the burnt out Peugeot 206 on the side of the M61 A picture presented during the trial, shows the burnt out Peugeot 206 on the side of the M61

A picture presented during the trial, shows the burnt out Peugeot 206 on the side of the M61

A picture shows the inside of the couple's burnt out car. The baby's placenta was found in the vehicle, the Old Bailey heard A picture shows the inside of the couple's burnt out car. The baby's placenta was found in the vehicle, the Old Bailey heard

A picture shows the inside of the couple's burnt out car. The baby's placenta was found in the vehicle, the Old Bailey heard

Pictured is the shed in Lower Roedale Allotments, East Sussex, where a Lidl bag was found which contained the body of baby Victoria. The photo was shown in court during the trial of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon Pictured is the shed in Lower Roedale Allotments, East Sussex, where a Lidl bag was found which contained the body of baby Victoria. The photo was shown in court during the trial of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon

Pictured is the shed in Lower Roedale Allotments, East Sussex, where a Lidl bag was found which contained the body of baby Victoria. The photo was shown in court during the trial of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon

A photo of baby clothing found in a Lidl bag in a shed in Lower Roedale Allotments, East Sussex which included the body of Victoria A photo of baby clothing found in a Lidl bag in a shed in Lower Roedale Allotments, East Sussex which included the body of Victoria

A photo of baby clothing found in a Lidl bag in a shed in Lower Roedale Allotments, East Sussex which included the body of Victoria

Follow every detail of the case on The Mail's acclaimed podcast The Trial [6]

The Trial takes listeners behind the headlines and into the courtrooms of some of the biggest criminal cases in the world. 

The first series, 'The Trial of Lucy Letby' received more than 13million downloads. 

Season two focused on the murder of Ashling Murphy, a 23-year-old teacher from Ireland. Season three followed the case of the murder of Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old teenager. 

Season four will follow the evidence as the jury hears it in twice weekly reports from The Daily Mail's news reporter, Jack Hardy, and broadcast journalist, Caroline Cheetham. 

They will take you into the courtroom to bring you the details as the evidence unfolds, to examine key moments and to carry out exclusive interviews with detectives, victims, and experts. 

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The court also heard how the couple went missing with their newborn baby after their car burst into flames near Bolton, Greater Manchester, last January.

Gordon told police during his interview that the car 'exploded out of nowhere' and that in 'hindsight' they should have stayed with the vehicle to 'deal' with the situation.

Victoria's placenta was found in the exploded vehicle on a Manchester motorway, sparking a huge police hunt, the Old Bailey heard. 

It is alleged that they slept in a tent 'off-grid' in a bid to keep the baby, after Marten's four other children were taken into care.

Last March 1, Victoria's remains were found in a Lidl supermarket bag inside a disused shed on an allotment.

On Tuesday, jurors viewed in the courtroom a blue tent and two sleeping bags said to be identical to the items bought by Gordon at Argos.

The tent, which measures four foot six inches by six foot eight inches, was carried towards the jury by the court usher and a police officer and placed beside the judge.

Prosecutor Tom Little, KC, invited jurors to approach the tent and feel the thickness of the material.

Jurors bent down to look inside the tent and felt the material in the doorway. Two jurors climbed inside the small tent together.

A juror then sent a note to the judge asking how tall Marten and Gordon are.

Two sleeping bags from Argos, the same as two the defendants also purchased, were then passed around for the jury to feel- an adult blue sleeping bag with stars on and a children's sleeping bag with rainbows and unicorns on.

Jurors then asked to be provided with a Lidl bag for life identical to the one Victoria was found in.

The jury was also provided with a list of the highest and lowest temperatures each day at weather stations near to the areas the couple slept.

The temperatures ranged from minus 4.3 degrees to 11.3 degrees.

Meteorologist Dr Richard Wild told the court that the area the couple slept in had a normal amount of rain in January 2023 for the time of year.

But the weather expert said that February 2023 was 'significantly drier than average' in the area, with about a fifth of the rainfall of an average February.

Bodycamera footage shows the moment detectives confronted Marten. Police repeatedly asked her 'where is your child?' in the footage after she and Gordon were tracked down Bodycamera footage shows the moment detectives confronted Marten. Police repeatedly asked her 'where is your child?' in the footage after she and Gordon were tracked down

Bodycamera footage shows the moment detectives confronted Marten. Police repeatedly asked her 'where is your child?' in the footage after she and Gordon were tracked down 

A screen grab taken from body worn camera footage issued by the Metropolitan Police shows the moment Mark Gordon was arrested in the street A screen grab taken from body worn camera footage issued by the Metropolitan Police shows the moment Mark Gordon was arrested in the street

A screen grab taken from body worn camera footage issued by the Metropolitan Police shows the moment Mark Gordon was arrested in the street

CCTV footage of Constance Marten buying supplies at Texaco in Newhaven, which was shown in court during their tria CCTV footage of Constance Marten buying supplies at Texaco in Newhaven, which was shown in court during their tria

CCTV footage of Constance Marten buying supplies at Texaco in Newhaven, which was shown in court during their tria

CCTV footage of Constance Marten filling a bottle with petrol at Texaco in Newhaven, which was shown in court during the trial CCTV footage of Constance Marten filling a bottle with petrol at Texaco in Newhaven, which was shown in court during the trial

CCTV footage of Constance Marten filling a bottle with petrol at Texaco in Newhaven, which was shown in court during the trial

Marten and Gordon met in a shop in London 2016 and got married in a ceremony in Peru, not recognised in UK law, about a year or two later.

They had four children in quick succession who were all taken into care after Marten fell from a window and social service believed Gordon pushed her, she told police.

The couple deny the manslaughter of Victoria by gross negligence, concealment of the birth of a child, cruelty to a person under 16 and perverting the course of justice by disposing of the body.

Marten comes from a wealthy aristocratic family and her father was a page to Queen Elizabeth II.

She told police her family hired private investigators after she met Gordon and were working with social services for years trying to 'get involved' with the children.

The Old Bailey trial continues.

References

  1. ^ Click here (open.spotify.com)
  2. ^ Natasha Anderson (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  3. ^ Constance Marten (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  4. ^ Brighton (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  5. ^ Lidl (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  6. ^ Follow every detail of the case on The Mail's acclaimed podcast The Trial  (open.spotify.com)

Section of A55 closed near Chester following a collision involving a lorry

Deeside.com > News

Posted: Mon 19th Feb 2024

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Update: The latest traffic report for the area states: “A55 Westbound blocked, long delays due to overturned lorry between J40 A51 Tarvin Road (Vicars Cross Interchange) and J39 A41 (Sainsbury’s / Boughton Heath Roundabout).”

“Congestion to back onto the M53 to the junction with the M56 J15, also slow on the A51 approaching J40. Affecting traffic passing Chester towards North Wales, sensors indicate traffic can pass eastbound.”

Earlier report: The A55 has been brought to a standstill near Chester following a collision involving a small lorry.

The collision happened near junction 39, Caldy Valley.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has confirmed their presence at the scene, with the road closed in both directions as emergency services deal with the incident.

According to traffic sensors the road is closed eastbound from the Posthouse roundabout, and closed westbound from junction 40.

Motorists planning to travel through this key route are advised to avoid the area entirely and seek alternative routes to their destinations.

A traffic report for the area states:

“Road blocked and queueing traffic due to collision, a lorry involved on A55 both ways between J38 A483 Wrexham Road (Posthouse Roundabout) and J40 A51 Tarvin Road (Vicars Cross Interchange). Affecting traffic passing Chester through Huntington.”

#RoadClosure A55: Emergency services are currently at the scene of a collision involving a small lorry on the A55 Caldy Valley, Chester. The road is closed in both directions, please avoid the area if possible. More information on our website soon https://t.co/IyKUiM4xxa pic.twitter.com/2Jnl92tmwJ[1][2][3]

— Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (@CheshireFire) February 19, 2024[4]

Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message[5] | A direct message on Twitter[6] | Email: [email protected]

Latest News

Get notified aboutnews from across North Wales

References

  1. ^ #RoadClosure (twitter.com)
  2. ^ https://t.co/IyKUiM4xxa (t.co)
  3. ^ pic.twitter.com/2Jnl92tmwJ (t.co)
  4. ^ February 19, 2024 (twitter.com)
  5. ^ Send a Facebook Message (m.me)
  6. ^ Twitter (twitter.com)

New motorway rules under fire after leaving cars ‘sitting ducks’

Smart motorway rules have been branded a "failed experiment" after a mass outage triggered a catastrophic pile-up. The Telegraph is reporting there was a six-car pile up on a smart motorway while the entire safety system shut down.[1]

A whistleblower revealed how stopped vehicle detection technology crashed,[2] leaving car a 'sitting duck' on former hard shoulder on M6. The National Highways whistleblower told how the system crashed throughout the country on January 19.

Staff lost CCTV functionality, were unable to close lanes to traffic, set speed limits, control electric signs, or use radar technology that detects crashed vehicles for three hours, between 5.25pm and 8.30pm. The anonymous National Highways worker told the Telegraph newspaper today the mass failure caused the pileup on the M6 southbound.

A car was left a “sitting duck” after it broke down on the inside lane and was unable to reach an emergency refuge area on the “all lane running” stretch before it was hit multiple times between junctions 3a and 3 near Coventry.

A spokesman for National Highways said the organisation has "well-rehearsed procedures" to deal with smart motorway outages. They said: “As with any technology, there are occasional planned and unplanned outages and so we have well-rehearsed procedures to deal with issues which arise.

“We have additional measures to limit any impact on drivers or traffic flow, including increased patrolling by our traffic officers and active monitoring of CCTV.” The whistleblower fumed: “We had no stopped vehicle detection systems, no CCTV and no control of signals and signs.

“The fact no one was killed is pure luck. Thankfully, God was watching over them, because we certainly weren’t.” Edmund King, the president of AA, said it showed the "smart motorway experiment"."

The AA president went on and explained how the failure showed the government had "failed again".

References

  1. ^ after a mass outage (www.birminghammail.co.uk)
  2. ^ A whistleblower revealed how stopped vehicle detection technology crashed, (www.birminghammail.co.uk)
  3. ^

Campaigner wants parish poll to gauge opinion on controversial Derbyshire housing scheme

Watch more of our videos on Shots!  and live on Freeview channel 276

Visit Shots! now[1]

Bolsover District Council is considering Waystone Ltd’s planning application for the Clowne Garden Village housing scheme for 1,800 properties with 24 hectares of greenfield land for mixed-development and employment, as well as community and commercial facilities between Clowne and Barlborough.

But following hundreds of planning objections from residents, a Clowne Garden Village Action Group petition with over 1,300 names, and Bolsover MP Mark Fletcher’s recent survey results which he claims showed 95per cent of 276 residents who answered questions were opposed to the development.

Clowne Garden Village Action Group Chairperson Dom Webb, who has also been pushing for a Judicial Review to challenge Bolsover District Council’s handling of the planning application, has begun enquiries about organising a parish poll to further outline Clowne villagers’ feelings about the housing scheme.

Clowne Garden Village Housing ProtestorsClowne Garden Village Housing Protestors Clowne Garden Village Housing Protestors

Mr Web stated: “Our action group is going to trigger the parish poll process so that the question of whether residents want the Clowne Garden Village planning development can be asked.”

The determined campaigner has written to Clowne Parish Council and Bolsover District Council to try and organise a parish poll to coincide with the Mayoral and Police Crime Commissioner elections on May 2 after the Tibshelf Neighbourhood Plan referendum had been allowed to run alongside district elections in 2023.

However, given Bolsover District Council’s reluctance to combine the three polls at the same time, Mr Webb is now considering triggering a parish poll on the Clowne Garden Village scheme before May 2.

He stated: “Without debating the merits of the planning application, it is fair to say we won’t struggle getting the parish poll approved in terms of calling the meeting, voting on a question and triggering the parish poll.”

Mr Webb also argued there would have been savings to the parish and district councils if the proposed poll was allowed to take place during elections on May 2 with just one extra vote for people to consider at the polling stations.

However, Bolsover District Council’s Director of Governance and Monitoring Officer Jim Fieldsend stated in a reply to Mr Webb that the prescribed times for parish polls are 4pm to 9pm and differ from the Mayoral and PCC election polling times of 7am to 10pm and could cause confusion and this is unlikely to be accepted by the returning officers.

Mr Fieldsend also explained that parish polls are aimed at merely obtaining the opinion of a parish and that the result is not legally binding.

He added that parish polls can be requested by either ten electors or one third of electors present and by voting at a parish meeting but postal votes or voting by proxy are not allowed.

Parish polls involve voting by marking an X in either a yes or no answer box to a question on a ballot paper and the results are posted on district council websites and parish council websites and district and parish council notice boards, according to Mr Fieldsend.

Mr Fieldsend said that district councils recharge the relevant parish or town council for the estimated cost of around £6,000 for parish polls.

Mr Webb who has been pushing for a Judicial Review to challenge Bolsover District Council’s handling of the residential planning application says he has also written to the Secretary of State for the Home Department to consider the progress of the proposed Clowne Garden Village scheme.

He has claimed when an original application was submitted after 2017 it did not match the district council’s Local Plan[2] at that time and after the application was delayed it was then allegedly included prejudicially in the subsequent 2020 Local Plan which would support its progress.

The district council has provided comprehensive explanations and a timeline claiming the proposed development has always been part of the Local Plan since 2016 and it has insisted that consideration of the planning application will continue.

Mr Webb has also argued the release of Green Belt land from preservation to allow for the development was also allegedly unlawful because he claims there were no special circumstances to do this and this land should be returned to Green Belt protection.

But the district council has stated that following a robust review “exceptional circumstances” were legally cited allowing the removal of this area from Green Belt preservation.

The district council has stated it has to meet housing and affordable housing targets because of nationwide shortages and there is a strategy to expand Clowne and this site could involve a progressive 20-year long process.

Clowne Garden Village Action Group campaigners, from Clowne and Barlborough, have previously raised concerns about the development’s possible impact on highways and existing services, the loss of countryside and wildlife, as well as fears about drainage, flooding and overcrowding.

Bolsover MP Mr Fletcher has also claimed the housing scheme could increase the population of the area by nearly 50 per cent and that the amount of actual affordable housing will be negligible.

The council has stated that it is considering all submissions and concerns including the possible impact on the road network, the environment, flooding and the use of Green Belt land being freed-up for exempted-use.

Waystone has also stated there is support for the scheme in terms of the potential for economic growth, facilities and jobs.

The council has stressed it is continuing to deal with the planning application for the proposed housing development between the two Derbyshire[3] villages, north of Clowne including part of the village centre off Hickinwood Lane, in accordance with legislation and guidance and it will be submitted to a future planning committee for consideration.

Mr Webb added Clowne Garden Village Action Group would not be looking to trigger a parallel parish poll in nearby Barlborough about the housing scheme after learning about new expected highway changes at the Treble Bob roundabout and with the Junction 30 M1 motorway circular plans.

References

  1. ^ Visit Shots! now (www.shotstv.com)
  2. ^ Local Plan (www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk)
  3. ^ Derbyshire (www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk)

Go-ahead for Freeport tax site

Go-ahead for Freeport tax site (l-r) Andrew Percy, MP for Brigg & Goole; Esa Kaikkonen, CEO of Metsä Tissue; and Dominic Gibbons, managing director of Wykeland Group (Image credit: R&R Studio)

A proposed Freeport tax site in Goole, designed to stimulate further major investment within the Humber region, has secured government approval.

The tax site, which forms part of the wider Humber Freeport, spans almost 500 acres of development land across two plots, separated by the M62 motorway, on the outskirts of the East Yorkshire town.

The proposed footprint was submitted for approval in August last year[1]. The site has now been officially designated, following review and approval by the Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs.

Businesses investing within the tax site can benefit from a series of advantages, ranging from business rate and stamp duty land tax relief, to National Insurance support designed to reduce employment costs.

Humber Freeport chair Simon Bird said: "Designation of the Goole tax site is another major positive step forwards for Humber Freeport and our mission to drive economic growth, generate thousands of skilled jobs, support innovation and promote cross-sector collaboration.

"We strongly believe our freeport proposition in the Humber is a compelling and unique one, with huge opportunities in decarbonisation, advanced manufacturing, chemicals and port-related operations.

"We're offering investors the opportunity to benefit from the Humber's status as a global gateway, with easy access to mainland Europe and beyond via the UK's busiest ports complex."

Designation of the Goole tax site is set to support one of the region's largest investments.

Property developer Wykeland Group holds the long-term development rights to the 211-acre northern part of the Goole tax site and has exchanged on a deal with Finnish tissue paper manufacturer Metsä Tissue, which is set to invest hundreds of millions of pounds to create the UK's largest tissue paper mill on the site.

The facility is proposed to be built in several phases over the next few years. It will create more than 400 jobs, with thousands of additional indirect jobs generated across the supply chain and in the local economy.

Dominic Gibbons, managing director of Hull-based Wykeland, added: "Confirmation of freeport tax status for the Goole site is excellent news for Goole and the wider Humber.

"The freeport tax site benefits added to the attractiveness of the proposition for Metsä Tissue.

"They also underline the appeal of the wider Goole site, paving the way for further large-scale development delivering economic growth, new jobs and wide-ranging community benefits."

Advertisement[2]

References

  1. ^ submitted for approval in August last year (www.insidermedia.com)
  2. ^ Advertisement (www.insidermedia.com)

Government approves Goole tax site to unlock further investment in Humble Freeport

Government Goole Humber The Government has approved a freeport tax site in Goole, East Yorkshire, in a move which will stimulate further major investment within the Humber region.

The tax site, which forms part of the wider Humber Freeport, spans almost 500 acres of prime development land across two plots, separated by the M62 motorway, on the outskirts of Goole.

The town has become a magnet for inward investment in recent years, with the freeport tax site designation underlining the appeal of a location with excellent transport links via road, rail and the UK’s premier inland port.

The proposed footprint for the Goole tax site was submitted for approval in August last year. Now the site has been officially designated, following review and approval by the Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs.

It means businesses investing within the tax site can benefit from a series of advantages, ranging from business rate and stamp duty land tax relief, to National Insurance support designed to reduce employment costs.

Humber Freeport Chair Simon Bird welcomed approval for the Goole tax site.

He said: “Designation of the Goole tax site is another major positive step forwards for Humber Freeport and our mission to drive economic growth, generate thousands of skilled jobs, support innovation and promote cross-sector collaboration.

“We strongly believe our freeport proposition in the Humber is a compelling and unique one, with huge opportunities in decarbonisation, advanced manufacturing, chemicals and port-related operations.

“We’re offering investors the opportunity to benefit from the Humber’s status as a global gateway, with easy access to mainland Europe and beyond via the UK’s busiest ports complex.

“We’ve got the space to grow, the people, the skills and the world-class companies already here to support investors, making the Humber the perfect place to do business.”Humber Freeport aims to capitalise on the Humber’s vital role as a strategic asset for UK Plc as Britain’s global gateway, by attracting large-scale inward investments creating thousands of new jobs.

Designation of the Goole tax site will support the delivery of one of the region’s largest investments.

Leading property developer Wykeland Group holds the long-term development rights to the 211-acre northern part of the Goole tax site and Wykeland has exchanged on a deal with Finnish tissue paper manufacturer Metsä Tissue.

Subject to planning approval, Metsä Tissue will invest hundreds of millions of pounds to create the UK’s largest tissue paper mill on the site.

The facility is proposed to be built in several phases over the next few years. It will create more than 400 jobs, with thousands of additional indirect jobs generated across the supply chain and in the local economy.

Dominic Gibbons, Managing Director of Hull-based Wykeland, said: “Confirmation of freeport tax status for the Goole site is excellent news for Goole and the wider Humber.“The freeport tax site benefits added to the attractiveness of the proposition for Metsä Tissue.

“They also underline the appeal of the wider Goole site, paving the way for further large-scale development delivering economic growth, new jobs and wide-ranging community benefits.”

The southern part of the Goole tax site is owned by St John’s College, Cambridge, which has appointed HBD, part of Henry Boot, as Development Partner.

Siemens Mobility is at the forefront of Goole’s rejuvenation, with an investment of up to £200m in a rail manufacturing facility, adjacent to the freeport tax site, where tube trains for London’s Piccadilly line will be built.

The manufacturing facility will employ up to 700 people, generating around 1,700 new employment opportunities in the supply chain, and is the centrepiece of a growing rail village encompassing manufacturing, servicing and research and development facilities.

The southern part of the Goole tax site presents an opportunity to create an integrated supply chain alongside the Siemens Mobility rail centre of excellence and the neighbouring Guardian Glass factory.

The site has the potential to unlock a wealth of high-quality employment opportunities, particularly within the rail, advanced manufacturing and low carbon energy sectors.Goole is one of three Humber Freeport tax sites, alongside Hull East and the Able Humber Port at Immingham.

Other companies that have announced plans to invest on Humber Freeport sites include rare earth exploration company Pensana and green hydrogen specialist Meld Energy, both at Saltend Chemicals Park within the Hull East tax site.

Government approves tax site to unlock further investment in freeport |

The Government has approved a freeport tax site in Goole, in a move intended to stimulate further investment within the Humber region.

The tax site, part of the wider Humber Freeport, spans almost 500 acres of prime development land across two plots, separated by the M62 motorway.

The proposed footprint for the Goole tax site was submitted for approval in August last year. Now the site has been officially designated, following review and approval by the Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs.

It means businesses investing within the tax site can benefit from advantages, ranging from business rate and stamp duty land tax relief, to National Insurance support designed to reduce employment costs.

Humber Freeport chairman, Simon Bird, said: “Designation of the Goole tax site is another major positive step forwards for Humber Freeport and our mission to drive economic growth, generate thousands of skilled jobs, support innovation and promote cross-sector collaboration.

“We strongly believe our freeport proposition in the Humber is a compelling and unique one, with huge opportunities in decarbonisation, advanced manufacturing, chemicals and port-related operations.

“We’re offering investors the opportunity to benefit from the Humber’s status as a global gateway, with easy access to mainland Europe and beyond via the UK’s busiest ports complex.

“We’ve got the space to grow, the people, the skills and the world-class companies already here to support investors, making the Humber the perfect place to do business.”

Designation of the Goole tax site will support delivery of one of the region’s largest investments.

The tissue paper mill planned by Finnish manufacturer, Metsä Tissue

Property developer Wykeland Group holds the long-term development rights to the 211-acre northern part of the tax site and has exchanged on a deal with Finnish tissue paper manufacturer Metsä Tissue.

Subject to planning approval, Metsä Tissue will invest hundreds of millions of pounds to create the UK’s largest tissue paper mill on the site.

The facility is proposed to be built in several phases over the next few years. It will create more than 400 jobs, with thousands of additional indirect jobs generated across the supply chain and in the local economy.

Dominic Gibbons, managing director of Hull-based Wykeland, said: “Confirmation of freeport tax status for the Goole site is excellent news for Goole and the wider Humber.

“The freeport tax site benefits added to the attractiveness of the proposition for Metsä Tissue.

“They also underline the appeal of the wider Goole site, paving the way for further large-scale development delivering economic growth, new jobs and wide-ranging community benefits.”

The southern part of the Goole tax site is owned by St John’s College, Cambridge, which has appointed HBD, part of Henry Boot, as development partner.

Siemens Mobility’s rail manufacturing facility

Siemens Mobility is heavily involved in Goole’s rejuvenation, with an investment of up to £200m in a rail manufacturing facility, next to the freeport tax site, where tube trains for London’s Piccadilly line will be built.

The southern part of the Goole tax site has been billed as an opportunity to create an integrated supply chain alongside the Siemens Mobility rail centre of excellence and the neighbouring Guardian Glass factory.

Goole is one of three Humber Freeport tax sites, alongside Hull East and the Able Humber Port at Immingham.

Other companies which have revealed plans to invest on Humber Freeport sites include rare earth exploration company Pensana and green hydrogen specialist Meld Energy, both at Saltend Chemicals Park within the Hull East tax site.

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Government Approves Goole Tax Site To Unlock Further Investment In Humber Freeport

An aerial image highlighting the footprint of the Goole freeport tax site. Image: East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

The Government has approved a freeport tax site in Goole, in a move which will stimulate further major investment within the Humber region.

The tax site, which forms part of the wider Humber Freeport, spans almost 500 acres of prime development land across two plots, separated by the M62 motorway, on the outskirts of the East Yorkshire town.

The proposed footprint for the Goole tax site was submitted for approval in August last year. Now the site has been officially designated, following review and approval by the Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs.

It means businesses investing within the tax site can benefit from a series of advantages, ranging from business rate and stamp duty land tax relief, to National Insurance support designed to reduce employment costs.

Humber Freeport Chair Simon Bird welcomed approval for the Goole tax site.

He said: “Designation of the Goole tax site is another major positive step forwards for Humber Freeport and our mission to drive economic growth, generate thousands of skilled jobs, support innovation and promote cross-sector collaboration.

“We strongly believe our freeport proposition in the Humber is a compelling and unique one, with huge opportunities in decarbonisation, advanced manufacturing, chemicals and port-related operations.

“We’re offering investors the opportunity to benefit from the Humber’s status as a global gateway, with easy access to mainland Europe and beyond via the UK’s busiest ports complex.

“We’ve got the space to grow, the people, the skills and the world-class companies already here to support investors, making the Humber the perfect place to do business.”

Humber Freeport aims to capitalise on the Humber’s vital role as a strategic asset for UK Plc as Britain’s global gateway, by attracting large-scale inward investments creating thousands of new jobs.

Designation of the Goole tax site will support the delivery of one of the region’s largest investments.

Leading property developer Wykeland Group holds the long-term development rights to the 211-acre northern part of the Goole tax site and Wykeland has exchanged on a deal with Finnish tissue paper manufacturer Metsä Tissue.

Subject to planning approval, Metsä Tissue will invest hundreds of millions of pounds to create the UK’s largest tissue paper mill on the site.

The facility is proposed to be built in several phases over the next few years. It will create more than 400 jobs, with thousands of additional indirect jobs generated across the supply chain and in the local economy.

Dominic Gibbons, Managing Director of Hull-based Wykeland, said: “Confirmation of freeport tax status for the Goole site is excellent news for Goole and the wider Humber.

“The freeport tax site benefits added to the attractiveness of the proposition for Metsä Tissue.

“They also underline the appeal of the wider Goole site, paving the way for further large-scale development delivering economic growth, new jobs and wide-ranging community benefits.”

The southern part of the Goole tax site is owned by St John’s College, Cambridge, which has appointed HBD, part of Henry Boot, as Development Partner.

Goole has become a magnet for inward investment in recent years, with the freeport tax site designation underlining the appeal of a location with excellent transport links via road, rail and the UK’s premier inland port.

Siemens Mobility is at the forefront of the town’s rejuvenation, with an investment of up to £200m in a rail manufacturing facility, adjacent to the freeport tax site, where tube trains for London’s Piccadilly line will be built.

The southern part of the Goole tax site presents an opportunity to create an integrated supply chain alongside the Siemens Mobility rail centre of excellence and the neighbouring Guardian Glass factory.

The site has the potential to unlock a wealth of high-quality employment opportunities, particularly within the rail, advanced manufacturing and low carbon energy sectors.

Goole is one of three Humber Freeport tax sites, alongside Hull East and the Able Humber Port at Immingham.

Other companies that have announced plans to invest on Humber Freeport sites include rare earth exploration company Pensana and green hydrogen specialist Meld Energy, both at Saltend Chemicals Park within the Hull East tax site.

Add a link to your business[1]

References

  1. ^ Add a link to your business (www.businessupnorth.co.uk)

LCR Freeport development set to create 500 jobs

LCR Freeport development set to create 500 jobs

Wednesday, 14 February 2024

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  • 550,000 sq ft logistics unit to be created at LCR Freeport site in Widnes
  • XDock building development set to create 500 jobs
  • Halton Council could retain up to GBP2m per year in business rates, ringfenced for regeneration projects

The Liverpool City Region (LCR) Freeport is set to create 500 full-time jobs at a massive new logistics facility to be developed at 3MG in Widnes.

The development, on one of the Freeport's three tax sites, could also enable Halton Council to retain GBP2m in business rates every year for 20 years, ringfenced for investment in regeneration projects in the borough, once the development is completed and fully tenanted.

CGI image of XDock development

CGI image of XDock development.

KKR and Mirastar have entered into a forward funding agreement to speculatively develop the logistics building, known as XDock, at the 3MG site.

The 500 jobs will be available at all levels from managerial to shop floor and will come on-stream from mid-2025. Through the planned LCR Freeport Skills Academy, the Freeport team, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and local education providers will work to ensure local people have the skills needed to benefit from the employment opportunities.

The XDock building announcement comes after the completion in late 2022 of the Viking Building, also at the 3MG site, which is a 200,000 square foot logistics warehouse.

Once fully operational, it is estimated the LCR Freeport as a whole could create more than 14,000 new highly skilled jobs, delivering GBP800m of investment and generating an additional GBP850m of GVA for the Liverpool City Region's economy.

The XDock building will be strategically located for both regional and national distribution with immediate access to the national motorway network via the M62, M57, M6 and M56 motorways.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

"Being a member of the Liverpool City Region means that Halton can reap the benefits of devolved, local leadership - capturing opportunities that may previously have been out of reach.

This is a prime example of how strategic decision is helping us to reinvigorate our economy and, most importantly, change our residents' lives for the better.

"The LCR Freeport is already proving it has the potential to attract investment and create more well-paid, highly skilled jobs for local people, however, I have always been clear that I only want to use our status as a force for good. I want to attract investors who believe in our local ambitions and will work with us to protect workers' rights and uphold standards and who, most importantly, will support areas in our community that need it most. This approach means that we are already starting to see tangible, positive results for local people - this is the difference devolution makes."

In developing the Freeport, the region's leaders have chosen to pursue businesses and industries that align with the values and priorities of the Combined Authority.

These include innovation in advanced manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and green energy - with a particular focus on the region's target to be net zero carbon by 2040 at the latest.

By grouping high-productivity and innovative businesses close together, the Freeport can play a role in the region's work to tackle underlying weaknesses in the local job market such as productivity, pay and job security.

Ekaterina Avdonina, CEO and co-founder at Mirastar, KKR Real Estate's industrial and logistics platform in Europe, said:

"KKR and Mirastar remain acquisitive for best-in-class developments and funding projects across our key high-conviction markets. In this challenging environment, it is a testament to the team to be able to get such a large deal over the line. We remain committed to the UK logistics and industrial sector and are excited to partner with the team at Marshall CDP on this project."

The c.550,000 sqft XDock building will be developed to a best-in-class specification, targeting a BREEAM Excellent certification, EPC A rating and will benefit from double sided loading.

Situated in the Liverpool Freeport Zone, XDock benefits from both Freeport Customs and Tax Status, which could provide significant cost savings to qualifying occupiers.

Tom O'Brien, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Freeport board, said:

"This new development is a significant demonstration of the private sector's confidence in the city region's economy and is a real example of inclusive growth in action. Here we have an initiative that could create 500 good quality jobs, at all levels, giving real opportunities to local people and a shot in the arm for the local economy. And it will help Halton Borough Council's continuing investment in regeneration projects that will make the area an even more attractive place to live, work and visit."

Cllr Paul Stuart, Portfolio Holder for the Liverpool City Region Freeport, said:

"This is an exciting development, demonstrating how the Freeport can be instrumental in driving growth across the Liverpool City Region while creating good-quality jobs for local people.

We're committed to ensuring that our Freeport status brings positive outcomes, attracting inward investment in the city region, increasing productivity, pay and job security."

Cllr Mike Wharton, Leader of Halton Council and Liverpool City Region Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Business, said:

"This development is tremendous news for Halton and the wider city region.

It will bring investment and jobs to Halton and the wider city region, through the 500 direct jobs on the site, and through its construction and the wider supply chain.

But more than that, the GBP2m in business rates that we could retain every year for the next 20 years would give us a lot of options in terms of deciding for ourselves, at a local level, how to spend that money to drive regeneration and improve the lives of the people of Halton."

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