The Celtic Freeport has been shortlisted by the UK and Welsh Governments for Freeport status.
The Celtic Freeport will deliver an accelerated pathway for Wales’ net zero economy generating over 16,000 new, green jobs and up to £5.5 billion of new investment. The transformational bid covers the ports of Milford Haven and Port Talbot and spans clean energy developments and innovation assets, fuel terminals, a power station, heavy engineering and the steel industry across south-west Wales.
Commenting on the selection of Celtic Freeport as one of the candidates for a Welsh Freeport, Roger Maggs MBE, Chair of the Celtic Freeport bid consortium, said:
“We hope that Wales' two Freeports will deliver for the country. The future is exciting. The Celtic Freeport has catalysed major business interest, local communities, trade unions and academia in using Wales' largest industrial base as the launchpad for developing new technologies and the renewable energy manufacturing opportunities of tomorrow. This has the potential to unlock £5.5 billion of private and public investment for Wales and create new training and innovation facilities, factories and expanded green energy ports, as well as new alternative fuel production complexes.
“Our green investment and innovation corridor will support the creation of 16,000 green jobs, which will not just be good news for Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock and Neath Port Talbot, but also Bridgend, Carmarthen, Swansea, The Valleys and many other communities across Wales.”
The Celtic Freeport consortium comprises Associated British Ports (ABP), Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire County Council and the Port of Milford Haven. The bid’s strategically located tax and customs sites span almost 250 hectares in Pembrokeshire and Neath Port Talbot.
Cllr David Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, said:
“Today’s announcement that the Celtic Freeport Bid has been successful is fantastic news for Pembrokeshire, Wales and Great Britain.
“The Celtic Freeport will unleash the full green industrial potential of Wales, accelerating the decarbonisation of our most carbon intensive industries and bringing new opportunities to our communities, major international investment and thousands of high skilled jobs to the region.”
Will Bramble CBE, Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire County Council, added:
“The Celtic Freeport will produce significant investment in the region, particularly the focused areas of upskilling our workforce and ultimately creating job opportunities here in south west Wales. Fundamentally this will now put us at the leading edge of the green industrial revolution.”
Cllr Steve Hunt, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, said:
“Today’s announcement is an absolute game changer for Neath Port Talbot and for Wales. It will transform the fortunes of people in all our communities. It puts us at the forefront of the world’s green energy revolution and our residents will soon be working in the industry of the future, learning the skills for securing green, well paid jobs."
Karen Jones, Chief Executive of Neath Port Talbot Council, said:
“This great news is the first step towards a much brighter future here in our county borough. I look forward to working with our partners to make sure local people and businesses have the best possible benefit from what’s now in front of us.”
Tom Sawyer, Chief Executive of the Port of Milford Haven, said:
“As the UK’s Energy Port, the Port of Milford Haven welcomes this fantastic news which allows us to build on the significant multi-million-pound investment we’ve already made in the renewables sector at Pembroke Port. But what really excites us about this announcement today is the positive impact it’s going to have on our coastal communities. Securing the jobs of today and creating fantastic opportunities for future generations.”
Andrew Harston, Regional Director, Associated British Ports, said:
“Associated British Ports is absolutely delighted that our Celtic Freeport bid has been successful. Floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Wales, and the scale needed is immense.
“ABP stands ready to invest £500 million in our port at Port Talbot to ensure first mover advantage to capture this global market. We want our ports to act as a base for FLOW manufacturing, maintenance and operations. And it’s not just about FLOW, it’s about sustainable fuels and hydrogen too.”
Separately, both Stena Line and Anglesey County Council have welcomed their successful Freeport bid for Holyhead
Anglesey will now benefit from Freeport status where simplified customs and trade rules will apply, providing greater incentives for investment and trade. In future, goods entering Anglesey Freeport will not be subject to the UK’s usual tax and customs regime, supporting long-term business investment, and boosting the prosperity of Anglesey and North Wales.
The full potential of North Wales will be unleashed following today’s announcement. Research indicates that the Anglesey Freeport could:
- create up to 13,000 high-skilled, high-wage jobs for local people over 15 years;
- increase UK GDP by £1bn by 2030, stimulated by business investment in R&D, servicing the supply chain of new green technologies;
- increase manufacturing output across North Wales whilst working in partnership with world-class educational institutions and supporting the upskilling of communities across North Wales.
The announcement signals the beginning of the process to revitalise the GB land bridge, which has suffered a 20% reduction in trade since Brexit. The Freeport will reduce the need for hauliers to transit goods around the southern tip of the UK, a process which is both environmentally damaging and economically inefficient.
The Freeport will accelerate the take up of sustainable energy production by building on existing industry-leading net-zero initiatives on the Island’s coastline. This will bolster the County Council’s existing ‘Energy Island Programme’ and produce much-needed energy supplies for the rest of the UK. Net zero goals will be achieved through the largest consented tidal energy project in the world.
Ian Hampton, Executive Director at Stena Line said:
"We would like to thank the Welsh and UK Governments for granting us Freeport status. We are thrilled by this decision, which is testament to the strength and transformative potential of our bid. This is a significant achievement for the region, and it is an excellent opportunity to drive forward sustainable economic growth, green energy, jobs, and skills. We are delighted for the people of Anglesey and North Wales, and excited about the positive commercial prospects that can be turned into a reality.
“Work now begins to ensure that we are capitalising on the unique tax and customs arrangements gained through Freeport status, to transform Anglesey into a centre for global trading excellence. To realise its potential as a world-leading economic powerhouse by facilitating trade across Wales, the rest of the UK, and internationally – bolstered by the easing of trade between the island of Ireland and the rest of the EU, via a revitalised GB land-bridge.
“Today presents an enormous economic opportunity and we look forward to working with the Welsh and UK Governments to ensure the project delivers for local businesses and communities across North Wales.”
Dylan J. Williams, Chief Executive at the Isle of Anglesey, said:
“I am delighted by today’s decision, which is a historic moment for Ynys Môn. Securing Freepost status can deliver real, transformational change to communities here and across North Wales.”
“It will stimulate significant long-term job creation for local people as well as wider socio-economic benefits and supply chain developments. This will help keep our young people in their local communities, preserving our Island’s unique character, culture and the Welsh language.
“Freeport status will also provide significant impetus for the County Council’s Energy Island Programme - which aims to see the Island become a hub for low carbon energy research and development, innovation production and servicing - and support the Council’s ambitious target of achieving net zero by 2030. Today’s decision means we are better placed than ever to realise this vision.”
The Anglesey Freeport would extend 45km from Holyhead port, covering the whole Isle of Anglesey, with four zones designated as tax or customs sites. The proposed sites are Holyhead Port (including 213-acre former Anglesey Aluminium site and deep water jetty), Parc Cybi, Rhosgoch and M-Sparc Science Parc.
Ian Hampton added:
“We would also like to congratulate the Celtic Freeport for their jointly successful bid in what is an exciting moment for South Wales too. These two projects will complement each other, in order to bring greater prosperity to the whole of Wales. We look forward to working alongside all partners to ensure that communities across Wales benefit from this decision.”