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Freeport Coming As Midlands Mega Shed Project Gets Go-Ahead?


The 700-acre West Midlands Interchange logistics site at Four Ashes, near Wolverhampton, has been approved by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

The approval, which came despite objections to the green belt scheme from a local council, opens the door to what could be the region’s biggest potential freeport.

Boris Johnson, the prime minister, has promoted the idea of freeports as a way to stimulate trade, and overcome some of the bureaucratic hurdles imposed by leaving the European Union.

The site is in the M54 Wolverhampton-Staffordshire High Growth Zone.

The Secretary of State agrees that the West Midlands is not adequately served by strategic rail-freight interchange provision and there is a clear lack of such provision to meet the needs of the Black Country and southern Staffordshire,” the government’s decision letter said.

West Midlands Interchange is being promoted by Four Ashes Limited, a consortium led by Kilbride Holdings with Grosvenor Group and Piers Monckton, the majority landowner.

The Kilbride Holdings team has developed rail-based projects for Jaguar Land Rover in Halewood and Castle Bromwich, as well as Honda, which is one of the reasons a freeport, which could help the UK auto sector, makes some sense.

The freeport idea is being promoted by the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, which is pressing for the site to include advanced manufacturing as well as distribution.

“As the government is currently out to consultation on freeports, we would also like to see the design of this site incorporate potential adaption if needed,” LEP Chairman Alun Rogers said, Business Insider reported.

The government is consulting on plans to create 10 freeports as hubs for global trade and investment. Freeports would have different customs rules than the rest of the country. The consultation, which was due to conclude in April, has now been extended.