Cardiff airport could become a freeport, Welsh Secretary says
The Secretary of State for Wales has said that Cardiff Airport could become a low-tax freeport.
The UK Government are currently in negotiations with the Welsh Government about setting up a freeport, in which companies would be taxed very lightly or not at all to encourage economic activity, in Wales.
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart had last year said that Wales would have to accept a freeport “come what may”, but Wales’ Economy Minister Vaughan Gething had warned them not to “impose” the port on Wales.
Today Simon Hart was asked by Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns whether they had considered looking at Cardiff Airport as the location of a freeport.
“In addition, can I ask him to pay particular attention to Cardiff airport, which is closely associated with Barry port, and assure me that it will be central to his thinking?” he asked.
Simon Hart answered that Alun Cairns was “right to point out that freeports are not necessarily confined to coastal areas”.
“Some of the best examples of freeports in the UK are inland freeports,” he said. “They are also not all identical, and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for the whole of the UK.
“We are trying to be as flexible as we can in looking at all the different dynamics, including Cardiff airport, to make sure that when the bids come in we are not too prescriptive and we look at all the issues with the most open mind that we can.”
Cardiff Airport is currently owned by the Welsh Government, a purchase which the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd have been critical of.
Gower Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi meanwhile said the Government should not allow P&O Ferries near the planned freeport.
“The Secretary of State extols the virtues of a freeport in Wales, but will he assure the House that he will not allow DP World, which is responsible for the shameful sacking of 800 P&O workers, anywhere near the construction or operation of any freeport in the United Kingdom?” she said.
Simon Hart answered: “The honourable Lady raises a timely point, and I hope that the comments made by the Transport Secretary, and others, will reassure her that we are deeply disturbed by the way that action was taken.
“As she knows, it has been referred to the Insolvency Service, and if there are demonstrable transgressions in that process, that could lead to criminal prosecutions. I can give the hon. Lady the assurance she needs as far as freeports in Wales are concerned.”
The UK Government and Scottish Government have already come to an agreement about a freeport in Scotland.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.