A FULL business case for making part of the BCP Council area a free port will be put together after the move was backed by its cabinet on Wednesday.

Councillors agreed to support a bid for a new lower-tax “outer boundary” zone, including both Bournemouth Airport and the Port of Poole.

Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting, cabinet member for the economy, councillor Phil Broadhead, said designation would “open up a lot of opportunities” for the area.

The council first revealed its intention to submit a bid to form a free port last month, when a £50,000 budget for its creation was included in a financial update.

Next month it will submit its case to the government which is planning to create “at least ten” of the low tax zones across the country, following the departure from the EU.

“There are a lot of benefits to being a free port,” Cllr Broadhead said. “It opens up a lot of options and a lot of paths for the economy.

“There are also benefits to the local authority, such as business rates retention and as a massive platform to build on.

“It’s completely right that we put our hat in the ring to try and be considered for one of the government’s new free ports.”

He said the bid would focus on the area’s less-industrialised and more service-oriented economy when compared to more traditional ports expected to also apply.

The council has been working with the Rigby Group, which owns Bournemouth Airport, and the Poole Harbour Commissioners on the details of what a free port could allow to happen.

Designation would allow a series of tax reduction measures to be introduced to encourage greater investment.

Details have yet to be agreed, but a council report says it would cover a continuous "outer boundary" including both the port and airport.

But there has been opposition to the move, including from the council’s Labour Party group.

Former cabinet member, councillor Lewis Allison said there would be a “catastrophic” impact in terms of a loss of income to the council and to smaller businesses.

Despite concerns, the cabinet unanimously agreed to support the submission of a bid.

Cushman and Wakefield has been commissioned to produce the council’s bid. It is expected to submit it by early February.