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22 October - 13 November
FoSS and ESRC logos

Supercharging the South West?

A workshop on the political and socio-economic implications of the new Plymouth and South Devon Freeport

My local area theme

Professional audiences

What’s on offer?

A workshop on Freeports, hosted at the Marine Station in the University of Plymouth for people from local government, business and civil society. 

Session 1: What do we know about the UK Freeports?
Dr Peter Holmes and Guillermo Larbalastier from the Trade Policy Observatory on the trade implications of the new Freeports and Dr Catherine Barnard (Cambridge) on the evolving UK policy; Drs Holden and Harmer on the political and socio-economic context of the Plymouth/Devon Freeport (summary of their recent research) followed by a Q&A/discussion.

Session 2 Opportunities and risks for business, government and society:

This session will explore and encourage participants to reflect on the opportunities, challenges and potential risks of the Freeport.
Facilitated group discussions will explore different scenarios and perspectives.
Please arrive for light refreshments from 13:15, ready for a 13:30 start.

What’s it about?

An important post-Brexit initiative of the Conservative government was the announcement in 2021 of eight new ‘freeports’ across England, of which Plymouth/South Devon were one. The establishment of the Freeport has proceeded rapidly. The local vision reframes the national agenda, with a focus on sustainable development in the marine economy and the defence/space sectors, in a way that is genuinely innovative but may also be challenging.

Notwithstanding the undoubted opportunities, and the extensive planning of the local authorities to ensure broader social and environmental benefits, there are risks. The political context for Freeports is still volatile, economic displacement is still a concern and the economic crisis may put pressure on some of the social and environmental principles (while the public image of Freeports is not unproblematic).  

Participants will gain:

  • An understanding of the evolving national policy 
  • Analytical tools to understand the political and social dynamics in the South West
  • Better knowledge of their own organisation’s research and learning needs
  • A new perspective on Freeports and exposure to social science experts 
  • Optional involvement in an ongoing knowledge network on Freeports

Who’s leading the event?

Dr Patrick Holden, Associate Professor Politics and International Relations
Dr Nichola Harmer, Lecturer in Human Geography

Invited speakers:
Dr Catherine Barnard, Professor of European and Employment Law, University of Cambridge, and author of landmark report on freeports for the UK in a Changing Europe 
Dr Peter Holmes Emeritus Reader (Economics) University of Sussex and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory
Guillermo Larbalestier,  Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory

Open to

The event is primarily targeted at professionals with relevant roles in local government, business and civil society. 

Of particular interest to

It will be of particular interest to individuals with leading/strategic roles in local government, business and civil society.