Humber’s unique investment proposition takes centre stage at UKREiiF

The vital importance of the Humber region as a magnet for low carbon investment has been highlighted at the UK’s biggest property and infrastructure conference.

Simon Green, CEO at Humber Freeport, speaking at UKREiiF in Leeds.

Humber Freeport joined representatives from across the region at UKREiiF in Leeds, a three-day event which aims to unlock investment and drive regeneration and development across the UK.

Attended by more than 14,000 delegates spanning the property, planning, investment and infrastructure sectors, Humber Freeport took to the stage throughout the conference to tell the region’s compelling story.

At the heart of conversation was the Humber’s distinctive proposition as a world-leading centre for low carbon energy, as well as its credentials to attract advanced manufacturing and other large-scale investments.

Panellists at UKREiiF included Humber Freeport CEO Simon Green and Jo Barnes, Managing Director of Sewell Estates and a freeport board member.

The Humber had a strong presence at the conference, with representatives including all four of the region’s local authorities, Associated British Ports, Wykeland Group, CATCH, Sewell Group and the Greater Lincolnshire LEP.

Simon Green spoke on days one and two of UKREiiF, including during a panel event focused on the importance of ports in driving sustainable growth.

He said: “The Humber generates 20 per cent of the UK’s energy and located just off our coastline is the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

“The importance of the Humber as a destination of choice for investors in low carbon energy cannot be overstated. We have a diversity of energy in our region, from offshore wind and solar to emerging hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.

“Humber Freeport has already seen significant investment in its sites from businesses with green energy and sustainability at their core. We now need to build on that positive early work and develop a comprehensive cluster which provides both depth and breadth.”

Discussions included a focus on significant investments which have been announced at Humber Freeport tax sites in Hull and Goole.

They include Pensana’s rare earth processing facility at Saltend Chemicals Park near Hull and Meld Energy’s proposed green hydrogen plant at the same site.

In Goole, Finnish manufacturer Metsä Tissue has proposed the UK’s largest paper tissue mill, a large-scale development which could create hundreds of direct jobs.

Jo Barnes, Managing Director at Sewell Estates and a Humber Freeport board member, joined a panel of experts to discuss skills and how to deliver world-class social infrastructure – from future-proofing education to improving healthcare estates.

Jo said: “UKREiiF has demonstrated not only the impact investment has on skills retention, innovation and employment, but also how it can act as a catalyst for social mobility and positive change.

“For Humber Freeport, it’s been a fantastic opportunity to present our unique proposition on a national stage, in front of audiences and decision makers who can help shape the future of our region.

“Through game-changing projects such as Yorkshire Energy Park, Humber Freeport can act as a driver for sustainable and clean economic growth, creating jobs and transforming peoples’ lives and futures.”

Despite having only been officially launched less than a year ago, endorsement for Humber Freeport was made from leading industry figures as it gathered praise for its early positive impact.

Mark Wray, Ecosystem Director for Maritime and Ports at Connected Places Catapult, joined Mr Green in taking part in a panel event which took place on day two of UKREiiF.

He said: “It’s impressive when you think that Humber Freeport only launched a little under a year ago and, in that short time, it has already helped to attract numerous significant investments.

“Another big benefit associated with freeports is the innovation and the partnership work which comes with them. It’s been great to listen to Simon and hear the latest from Humber Freeport.”

Humber Freeport was joined at UKREiiF by Cameron Wood, a Consultant at Shared Agenda, who won the Freeport’s “Prop Star” competition to attend the conference.

Cameron is playing a pivotal role in the development of the Yorkshire Energy Park in East Yorkshire, a £200m development which could create thousands of jobs.

Reflecting on his time at UKREiiF, Cameron said the opportunity had “put him in the same room as people he would not otherwise have the chance to meet”.