DORSET has suffered a blow in the budget after its application for a low-tax “freeport” was left off the list of bids approved by the government.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a boost for Southampton by backing the Solent Freeport application, but did not give the green light to a scheme for Bournemouth Airport and the Port of Poole.

The setback came alongside the good news that BCP Council would receive £21.7million from the government’s Towns Fund to regenerate Boscombe.

Council leader Drew Mellor said: “We've had some excellent feedback and we qualified against the government criteria which is a great credit to the bid partnership and we made the final ministerial decision so we're economically on the map. We’re ready and waiting for round two.”

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Dorset’s bid for a freeport was named the London South Logistics and Cargo Hub and involved BCP Council, the owners of Bournemouth Airport and Poole Harbour Commissioners.

Freeports will see the usual customs rules, planning policies and business taxes lifted, so businesses can import materials and components and then export them without the normal tariffs or regulations The BCP area bid, which has not been made public, includes a lower-tax “outer boundary” zone which includes both Bournemouth Airport and the Port of Poole.

Council leaders asked to sign off £50k for BCP freeport bid

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