THE ISLE of Wight is set to benefit by the news in today's budget that a Solent Freeport is being approved.

Isle of Wight MP, Bob Seely, was one of eight MPs backing the bid seeking ‘Freeport status’ in the Solent area. The Solent Freeport was today announced by Southampton-born Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who had championed the idea.

The bid was submitted by the Solent LEP in response to the government’s plans to create at least ten Freeports across the UK.

The Solent Freeport covers an area of approximately 30 miles and parts of the IW are likely to have been included.

Designed to attract major domestic and international investment, areas given Freeport status will benefit from a wide package of tax reliefs, simplified customs procedures, streamlined planning processes to boost redevelopment and government support to promote regeneration and innovation.

Freeports are a special kind of port where normal tax and customs rules do not apply.

They are similar to free zones, or 'enterprise zones', which are designated areas subject to a broad array of special regulatory requirements, tax breaks and government support.

Mr Seely said previously: "This bid will help to create jobs, drive investment and regenerate communities. A Solent Freeport would create new opportunities for the Island, boosting our economy at a critical time.

"A Freeport would attract jobs throughout the Island but especially in the Medina Valley area. The benefits would most certainly be felt in IW shipbuilding and in our green industry and composite sectors as well."

The Solent LEP believes the proposal has the potential to attract £2billion investment and create 52,000 jobs, through opening the potential to bring tax reliefs, simplified customs procedures and streamlined planning processes to promote regeneration and innovation.

Focused on some of the Solent's most disadvantaged communities, the Freeport will see high quality employment space created, with investment specifically targeted at state-of-the-art growth sectors and ground-breaking approaches to decarbonisation.

The proposal also includes plans to work with the areas three world-class universities and research assets, and establish a dedicated Solent Freeport Green Growth Institute to provide a centre of excellence in green skills and jobs.

Chair of the Solent LEP, Brian Johnson said today: “The Solent has a very proud maritime heritage, but we don’t live in the past. Today's announcement represents the start of a new era for the Solent as we begin our work with Government to create jobs, drive innovation and build sustainable, long-term opportunities now and in the future. The wide coalition of public and private partners brought together by the LEP puts us in the strongest possible position to bring this vision for a Solent Freeport to reality.

"As the Nation's Global Gateway, the Solent Freeport will be critical to ensuring that the UK can remain competitive on an international stage in the years ahead and the LEP is committed to ensuring that our local communities - and in particular our young people - can benefit from the opportunities created."

Steve Szalay, operations director at Southampton Airport, said: "We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement on the creation of the Solent Freeport. The economic recovery of our region is vital for job sustainability and creation.

"We have been working closely with the Solent LEP on their bid as the airport is a vital component to the Freeport. We are optimistic about the pivotal role we can play in repositioning and rebuilding the region, that is why we are calling on our councillors to approve the runway extension to ensure we are able to continue to connect the central south, nationally and internationally.”