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British Ports Association tells UK Government not to ‘enforce’ freeports on Wales

02 Sep 2021 4 minutes Read
Holyhead Harbour. Picture by Darren Glanville (CC BY-SA 2.0). Simon Hart (right) by Chris McAndrew (CC BY 3.0).

The British Ports Association has told the UK Government not to “enforce” freeports in Wales and Scotland, instead saying that they should be “implemented properly and fairly”.

Despite the Welsh Government saying they remain committed to sorting out the issue with the UK Government, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart has previously threatened to impose a freeport on Wales “come what may”.

Welsh Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said in July that they had “consistently attempted to engage constructively with the UK Government” but that the UK Government was pressuring them “to redirect its resources to deliver a UK Government policy priority”.

The British Ports Association said that the progress on establishing freeports in England was “heavily juxtaposed against the marked delay” in Wales and Scotland.

“Industry understands that talks between the UK government and the various national administrations of the UK have been unproductive and marked by disagreement and delay – that has ultimately put ports and businesses in harm’s way,” a spokesperson said.

“Ports have spent significant time and money in anticipation of bidding. Governments of all administrations owe them certainty and must not continue to allow them to get caught up in political tension.

“There has also been speculation of threats by the UK government to enforce the UK freeport model on the devolved administrations.

“However, this is not welcomed by industry as in this case, the Freeport package would not include devolved levers such as planning, enterprise and certain tax mechanisms. For freeports to be implemented properly and fairly, ports must have access to the same mechanisms or be resigned to being less competitive with ports in England, hindering the model ineffective in devolved regions.”

‘Progress’

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart had said in May that the UK Government planned to go ahead with the plan for freeports in Wales whether the Welsh Government consented or not.

He said that it was a “source of some frustration that we have yet to get it over the line”.

“Now very clearly we would like to do that in collaboration with the Welsh government which is where the blockage currently resides but we can – and if necessary we will – proceed to deliver on our manifesto commitment come what may,” he said.

He added: “It’s a manifesto commitment, the only obstacle standing between us and delivering it is currently Welsh government”.

Goods that arrive into freeports from abroad are exempt from tax charges. These taxes are only paid if the goods leave the freeport and are moved elsewhere in the UK. Otherwise, they are sent overseas without the charges being paid.

The UK Government’s hope is that freeports could help regenerate deprived areas such as Anglesey.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said in March that they “will not be keen to sign up to a freeport proposal that leads, for example, to a reduction in environmental standards. The UK government has agreed conditionality with the Scottish government in that way”.

“We would look for joint decision making given that devolved and non-devolved responsibilities are at stake in freeports, and again the UK government has agreed joint decision making with the Scottish government.

“Then we’d look for the same level of funding for a freeport in Wales as is being made available to all freeports in England – that’s £25m available to a freeport in England, we’d expect to see the same level of funding for a freeport in Wales.

“If there is progress on those three things that conversation can certainly continue.”

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Quornby
Quornby
25 days ago

Scotland treated more favourably than Wales? I wonder why that might be? Time for independence enough is enough!

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
25 days ago

If it costs £25M to set one up in England why do Welsh Tory MPs think it only needs £8M in Wales? They seem dead keen on Freeports but not so keen on equal funding.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
25 days ago

Freeports are in existence within the EU and even the UK had some years ago. The reason they no longer exist here and why the EU is currently looking to stop the concept is why the Welsh and Scottish governments are reluctant to implement them again. Freeports are known for low environmental standards and poor working conditions. If the UK Gov is again so keen on them it must enforce regulations regarding these issues and fund Welsh and Scottish ports the same amount as English ports. Of course it won’t, there is still this colonialist attitude and any regulation will… Read more »

Dafydd ap Robart
Dafydd ap Robart
25 days ago

“The UK Government’s hope is that freeports could help regenerate deprived areas such as Anglesey.”

Haha

Arian i mewn, prin unrhyw arian allan. Mae porthladdoedd am ddim yn gweithredu’n annibynnol ar yr ardaloedd y maent wedi’u lleoli ynddynt. Gofynnwch i Lerpwl.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_ports_in_the_United_Kingdom

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
24 days ago

We all need to get real about the constitutional crossroads we in Wales have arrived at. The choice is clear. Incorporation or independence. Devo is dead.

Gwyn Williams
Gwyn Williams
24 days ago

There won’t be incorporation without a fight.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
24 days ago

Yes Simon Hart, and when the British Ports Association say freeports should be “implemented properly and fairly” means both Welsh & Scottish parliaments deciding whether they are suitable and what effect they would have on both nation’s economies ,not some English overseer at Whitehall throwing his weight about like a spoilt child. Welsh Office pygmy dictator Simon Hart forgets. It was his Conservative party in coalition with the Lib Dems that devolved ports to our Senedd under fanfare at the Millennium Stadium, who now thinks the Brexit vote has given the Tories the greenlight to do anything. And this means… Read more »

Last edited 24 days ago by Y Cymro

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