FREE port designation would boost the economy of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole by £1.7 billion over the next 20 years, according to its now submitted bid.

Working with Bournemouth Airport’s owners and Poole Harbour Commissioners, BCP Council made its formal submission for the “London South Logistics and Cargo Hub” on Friday.

It is hoping to be one of “at least ten” areas the government has pledged to designate, aimed at encouraging post-Brexit investment through tax reduction initiatives.

BCP Council budgeted £50,000 and commissioned Cushman & Wakefield to put together its bid – a move that was approved by its cabinet last month.

Contributions were also made by Poole Harbour Commissioners, Bournemouth Airport and the Dorset Local Enterprise Group.

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

The bid, which has not been made public, includes a lower-tax “outer boundary” zone which includes both Bournemouth Airport and the Port of Poole it calls “the new London South Logistics and Cargo Hub”.

Aiming to draw business into the area, the council said this would be “more efficient and lower cost” than airports and ports in the South East.

A new customs-exempt “freight corridor” would also be created between the port and airport.

Council leader Drew Mellor said the free port would deliver benefits worth £1.7 billion and create up to 5,600 jobs across the region over the first 20 years.

“Currently, the economic growth opportunity at the port and airport is constrained by upfront enabling infrastructure requirements, which the free port would unlock,” he said.

He said the bid also included a new maritime and aviation "centre of excellence", aimed at addressing a "skills shortage" in the industries.

The bid was submitted on Friday – the government deadline – and will now go up against more than 30 others across the country.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said free ports would help “turbo-charge our economic recovery” and “deliver lasting prosperity” following the departure from the EU.

Under the scheme through which the bid has been submitted, the government has pledged to create at least ten free ports – seven of which would be in England.

However, concerns have been raised that it will divert trade from different parts of the country while Labour councillors have opposed the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole bid.

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.

There were previously five free ports in the UK until the government stopped renewing their licences in 2012.

The successful bids are due to be announced in the spring.