Spinnaker Tower at dusk

The Solent

About the Solent

Distinct and dynamic, the Solent is a vitalizing gateway to productivity –and Solent Partners is intently focused on empowering a more prosperous and sustainable future for our region.

The Solent economy has a population of 1.24 million, 42,000 businesses, GVA of £31 billion, and is part of wider South East economy valued at £240 billion GVA. It has a range of assets that are globally renowned, a strong SME and skills base, and a thriving research community through its universities and research institutions. The area is strategically positioned in relation to London, mainland Europe, and just 20 nautical miles from the key Shanghai to Rotterdam shipping superhighway. Currently the Port of Southampton alone handles exports worth more than £40 billion, making it the number one port for exports in the UK.

For more information on how we will work to increase productivity in the Solent please read our Productivity and Growth Supplement, in order to support the development of this piece of work, Solent LEP commissioned Oxford Economics to independently outline the area’s recent economic performance, as well as provide latest forecasts for the Solent area over the next 20 years. The updated economic modelling and forecasts report is also now available here

Sea transport & international trade

Our ports at Southampton and Portsmouth are the most advantageously positioned in the UK. Situated just 20 nautical miles from international shipping lanes and less than 100 nautical miles from the mass markets of mainland Europe, they provide a strategic hub and gateway to global markets for enterprises across southern and central England.

Portsmouth Port is one of the country’s leading ‘Roll-on, Roll-off’ (Ro-Ro) traffic destinations, with crossings to France, Spain and the Channel Islands. Southampton is a critical stopping point on the world’s busiest trade route from Shanghai to Rotterdam; a gateway to global markets for the automotive industry; and the busiest cruise port in the UK. Supporting 15,000 jobs and contributing over £1.0bn of GVA to the local economy. 

Southampton Port’s potential contribution to the export-led recovery is clear from its data on vehicle exports, which rose from 650,000 in 2012 to 900,000 in 2016, with further increases to 1.858m forecast by 2035.

map of the solent area

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