Thames Freeport

Thames Freeport

Thames Freeport represents Britain’s trading future. As a gateway to London, it is a vital strategic connector of global trade at the centre of Europe’s biggest consumer market.

With 1,700 acres of development land along the Thames River, the Freeport offers a unique and compelling value proposition. Thames Freeport provides major port capacity with significant planned expansions, global shipping connections and a supportive ecosystem and supply chain. It also provides extensive onward transport connections by road, river, and rail to major population centres

Thames Freeport offers a range of incentives relating to customs, tax, planning, infrastructure, and innovation. See further details on the benefits of Freeports.

Tax benefits are available at the Freeport’s 3 tax sites, located at:

  • London Gateway – the UK’s most integrated logistics hub and one of the world’s fastest growing container ports, connecting over 130 ports and 65 countries and handling almost 2 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) annually

  • Tilbury – London’s major port, with a throughput of 16 million tonnes per annum at an estimated value of £8.7 billion

  • Ford’s world-class Dagenham Engine Plant – London’s largest manufacturing location for over 90 years

A train on tracks with shipping containers behind

Investment type:



Food and drink, Zero emission vehicles, Sustainable infrastructure

Contact the opportunity lead

Michael Green

Michael Green

Head of Freeports and Investment Zones

Sector and market opportunity

The Thames Freeport is focused on supporting the growth of 3 main sectors:

Advanced manufacturing

Opportunities in the light manufacturing sector include assembly, packaging and other value addition associated with importing supply chains. There are also new manufacturing opportunities in sectors like consumer goods, electronics, food and beverage, construction, and automotive.

The food and beverage industry in the UK has domestic sales over £100 billion and exports valued at £20 billion in 2021. The UK’s consumer technology industry is currently valued at £28.8 billion and this segment represents 18% of the entire UK eCommerce market. In the automotive sector, the Freeport will enable the UK to take a leading role in the development and deployment of autonomous, connected, electric and shared (ACES) vehicles. Automotive-related companies based at the Thames Freeport sites are well-placed to enter this £67 billion market that exports to over 150 countries.

Energy and circular economy

Thames Freeport intends to invest in hydrogen and alternative fuel infrastructure to spur the development of a green logistics cluster with enormous growth potential. London Gateway will be home to the largest on-grid battery storage. There are also opportunities for on-site low emission energy generation at Tilbury, including current onsite wind turbines. The Thames Freeport focus on net-zero and renewable energy also presents a great opportunity for investors.


Thames Freeport is focused on delivering safe, efficient and innovative net zero logistics solutions. This includes value added warehousing services and the provision of last mile e-commerce distribution of goods. There are already examples on the river, including DHL river parcel delivery using the river as the means of transport.

The relocation of the central London produce markets will also provide delivery opportunities utilising the green supply chain of the Thames. The use of the Freeport customs procedures can also benefit cargo owners.


A partnership between Ford, Forth Ports Limited and DP World, Thames Freeport will see £400 million of port investment, over £4.5 billion in new public and private investment, and £2.6 billion additional gross value added (GVA). The ports jointly handle 40 million tonnes of cargo annually, with shipping routes to more than 125 overseas ports. Together, Thames Freeport customs zones will further boost this trade through the UK’s Global Gateway.

The Port of Tilbury (London) is the largest of 8 ports owned by Forth Ports. Sitting on the north bank of the Thames just 22 nautical miles east of central London, it is perfectly placed to handle cargo for London and the rest of the South-East. With an excess of 1,000 acres, it is home to 56 operational berths, 31 independent working terminals, 10.2 kilometres of quay and 5 million square-feet of warehousing. The Tilbury Tax site primarily concerns developable brownfield sites with large river frontage.

DP World-operated London Gateway’s highly productive deep-water berths are built to handle the world’s largest vessels. Its state-of-the-art technology means that it can do this in the safest, most reliable and efficient way. Facilities include 3 berths, with a fourth berth under development, 1.25 kilometres of quayside, substantial modern crane, rail and road infrastructure and adjacent logistic park.

Opened in 1959, the Dagenham Ford Engine Plant is a site of 44 acres, with direct river access via dock with Ro-Ro capability.

Thames Freeport offers a supportive ecosystem and supply chain. Wider South Essex and Thames Estuary business parks and commercial spaces are well suited and connected for complementary investment in supply chain industries.


The Thames Freeport has global connectivity to every continent. There is access to air travel from 4 airports with regional and international connections via London City, Heathrow, Gatwick and London Stansted Airports.

Thames Freeport will enable first-class multi-modal transport onto the UK’s networks via road, river and rail. This includes connections to the A13/M25, national rail network, and the ability to take goods off road and on river to upriver London wharves.

There is immediate, easy access to 18 million people within 75 miles of the Thames Freeport.

Local talent and skills

The Thames Freeport already has access to a talent pool of over 70,000 science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) students, and 21,400+ graduates in Greater London. The area is currently home to 1,462,000 workers engaged in STEM and adjacent careers, and over 250,000 workers in skilled trades occupations.

Moreover, the Thames Freeport and its partners have a long track record of investing in local skills and will continue to do so to ensure local population have more access to the upcoming opportunities. Among the key initiatives is the establishment of our own multi-million pound skills fund and accelerator to develop and up-skill the local workforce.

Region Spotlight
South of England


The region is home to 21 million people. It offers opportunities across a wide range of sectors from nuclear and aerospace, to life science and new technologies. There are vibrant clusters of expertise spanning 5G, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

View all investment opportunities in South of England

National government support

As specially designed areas with beneficial economic regulations, Freeports can help you achieve sustained growth, and may be able to save you time and money through:

Tax reliefs

  • Stamp Duty Land Tax relief
  • enhanced Capital Allowances for investment in plant & machinery and structures & buildings
  • five years of Business Rates relief
  • employer National Insurance contributions relief

Customs and Planning

  • simplified customs procedure
  • deferrals and exemptions from duty payments
  • VAT suspension within customs sites
  • supportive local planning environments with constructive public-private partnerships

Innovation Offer

  • extensive public investment in skills and infrastructure
  • access to the Freeport Regulation Engagement Network (FREN), enabling direct and early engagement between businesses, Freeports, and regulators
  • access to the Freeport Innovation Network (FIN), a collaboration vehicle for Freeports to shape and organise their innovation activity as a collective

Contact the opportunity lead

Michael Green

Michael Green

Head of Freeports and Investment Zones

Other opportunities