A new freeport which is set to create 25,000 jobs in south Essex has been signed off by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

International port operator DP World and Forth Ports has won a bid to create a Thames Freeport with London Gateway, with the Thurrock-based Port of Tilbury and Ford’s Dagenham engine plant at its heart.

Announcing a number freeports across the country, Mr Sunak said the special economic zones with different rules would “make it easier and cheaper to do business” laying the ground for an economic boom in the region.

The joint bid by DP World and Forth Ports in partnership with Ford and Thames Enterprise Park will see a Thames Freeport, with Thurrock at its heart, attract billions in private sector investment over the next 25 years.

Thurrock Council Leader, Rob Gledhill said: “I am over the moon that the government has once again backed Thurrock and our partners. A Thames Freeport will unlock countless opportunities and deliver real transformational change for those that live and work in the borough.

“Our residents will have access to specialist training and new jobs with higher pay levels all within the local area.

“This is much more than just port jobs, the Thames Freeport will bring opportunity after opportunity for generations to come. Thurrock is already the ports capital of the UK, a Thames Freeport will now make it the heart of the Thames too.”

The councillor responsible for regeneration and strategic planning, added: "I would like to thank the Government for once again recognising Thurrock’s potential and its role not just within the regional but also the national economy.

"Ports are in Thurrock’s DNA and this offers up a unique opportunity to level-up communities, bring new benefits to the residents in the borough and cement Thurrock as the ports capital of the UK.

“It could generate more than 25,000 direct jobs and up to another 20,000 indirect job opportunities across countless industries including aerospace, automotive, manufacturing and processing right here on our doorstep.”

Stuart Wallace, chief operating oficer at Forth Ports, owner of the Port of Tilbury, said: “This is fantastic news and we are ready to hit the ground running. The freeport builds upon the successful completion of our new port, Tilbury, and provides the platform for further expansion.

“The freeport policy’s special economic measures will turbocharge the best of the private sector, attracting value add manufacturing activity to the ports, the Thames Estuary and the wider South East, alongside supporting key infrastructure projects in the coming years. The Thames Freeport will be that catalyst to level up the left behind communities along the estuary.”