Just two months after being given the green light by government, the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport is celebrating its first private sector investment announcement as Devonport-based Babcock secures a multi-million pound contract in partnership with Devon defence vehicle designer and manufacturer Supacat. This contract will deliver 90 new jobs and enables Babcock to expand their operations in the Freeport’s South Yard tax site.

Today’s announcement is an exciting first milestone in the Freeport’s delivery phase and highlights the strength of partnership and supply chain opportunities that the Freeport affords. It also demonstrates that eligible new and existing businesses are keen to take advantage of the attractive package of Freeport incentives offered by government.

With an initial order to manufacture 70 High Mobility Transporters (HMT 400 series) ‘Jackal’ military vehicles, production will be focused within the Freeport’s South Yard tax site. Future spending rounds could see an additional order of over double the original requirement being made.

Jan Ward CBE, Chair, Plymouth and South Devon Freeport said:

“This milestone investment marks the transition from a mobilisation phase to a delivery phase and is a tangible example of the impetus we are creating around the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport and our desire to make opportunity become reality. It demonstrates the partnering and strengthening of the supply chain to win contracts and leverage the Freeport incentives. As one of the first Freeports to get full approval just two months ago, it is great to see such private sector investment in our Freeport so early in the development programme. Indeed, we are confident that more will follow. This is a real boost to South Yard; creating a good number of manufacturing jobs for the people of Devonport and the surrounding area.

Freeport status is a great accomplishment for the city and the wider South West region as it de-risks private sector investment while the overall economy is uncertain. It initiates, fosters and delivers new investment, jobs and growth – making announcements like today’s possible. We look forward to working with the MOD, Babcock and Supacat.”

Tom Newman, Chief Executive of Babcock’s Land Sector, said:

“This order is fantastic news for both Babcock and the local community in Plymouth. We are delighted to be taking a key role in the production of this new phase of the Jackal platform, a truly British designed and manufactured vehicle. We are also proud to be securing critical and diverse industrial skills and capabilities and enhancing social value, including the creation of 90 new jobs.

“The HMT 400 series is also not only a battle-proven vehicle but a fantastic export asset in its own right, and our chosen build location in the freeport zone of Plymouth will enhance its export prospects.”

Councillor Richard Bingley, Leader, Plymouth City Council:

“This is the defining moment for our international-facing Ocean City. Our first big international investment into our Freeport. This first big win serves to unlock the UK’s most advanced Freeport and sets us up to realise a regional jobs bonanza that will benefit generations to come.”

Last December the Government approved the Freeport’s Full Business Case which unlocks millions of pounds of grant seed funding triggering the Freeport’s delivery phase. The programme enables innovators and investors from across the world to test, trial and take to market cutting edge technology and products in key sectors of marine, defence, space and advanced manufacturing.

The Freeport is a dynamic public/private partnership with Plymouth City Council, South Hams District Council and Devon County Council working alongside Babcock, Princess Yachts, Carlton Power, the Sherford Consortium and a wider range of stakeholders including the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter, ABP (Associated British Ports), Cattewater Harbour Commissioners, skills providers and the Heart of the South West LEP to ensure its success.

Devon County Council Leader John Hart said:

“This is great news for the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport to be creating opportunities so quickly, generating new jobs and new skills. This investment from Babcock and Supacat shows how attractive the Freeport is going to be and it’s even more encouraging that it will enable companies based locally to expand their operations.”

Councillor Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council, said:

“It is really encouraging to see a significant contract like this secured for the Freeport so shortly after the Freeport itself got full approval. The investment will deliver numerous new jobs, the core objective of the Freeport itself. It is a sign that the Freeport will go from strength to strength, boosting our economy, creating new opportunities for our residents and ensuring the South Hams and wider area is a centre for innovation and industry.”