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Pembrokeshire toasts freeport success

23 Mar 2023 5 minute read
Milford Haven waterway viewed from Dale. Picture by David Merrett (CC BY 2.0)

Bruce Sinclair, local democracy reporter

Pembrokeshire’s success in jointly becoming the site of one of Wales’ new freeports will boost the whole of the county, its deputy leader has said.

The Celtic Freeport in Milford Haven and Port Talbot, along with Anglesey Freeport on Ynys Mon have been chosen as Wales’ first freeports, the Welsh and UK Governments announced yesterday, March 22.

The Celtic Freeport – expected to be operational later this year – aims to attract significant investment, including £3.5bn in the hydrogen industry, and hopes to create 16,000 new jobs across the two sites, generating £900m in Gross Value Added (GVA) by 2030, and £13bn by 2050.

The bid was lodged on behalf of a public-private consortium, whose partners include Associated British Ports (ABP), Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire County Council and the Port of Milford Haven.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Pembrokeshire Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Place, the Region and Climate Change Cllr Paul Miller said: “It’s excellent news, it’s a key part of the bigger picture we’re building here.”

On the Pembrokeshire share of the 16,000 promised jobs, he said further details of where they would be were expected to be clarified as the freeport developed.

He added: “They’re assumptions, but if you look at the scale of the investment, I don’t think they’re fantasy figures.”

Compelling

On the successful bid, he said: “The collaboration with Neath Port Talbot became obvious, creating a really compelling case for companies to invest.” Cllr Miller said the successful bid was part of a wider ambition to develop Pembrokeshire, with ongoing investments in other parts of the county.

“We wanted Pembrokeshire to be a vibrant place to live, and this is just part of it; the Freeport on its own doesn’t transform Pembrokeshire, but the investment is really important.

“This bid success – which we led with Milford Haven Port Authority from a Pembrokeshire perspective – shows we have the ambition critical for the future prosperity of Pembrokeshire.”

He stressed the freeport status, which hopes to boost investment in the Haven as a whole, including both Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock, was likely to pay dividends for the whole of the county.

“There’s no question that this stuff doesn’t cascade out; the economic effect will spread across the county for sure; it doesn’t matter whether you live in Goodwick or Tenby, you probably know someone who works in the Haven.”

Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council David Simpson described the announcement as “fantastic news”.

“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.”

His welcome was echoed by Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire County Council Will Bramble CBE: “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.”

Positive impact

Chief Executive of the Port of Milford Haven Tom Sawyer, 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 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.”

Chair of the Celtic Freeport bid consortium Roger Maggs MBE welcomed the announcement: “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.”

Political support

Further welcomes been received by a wide range of local politicians, including MP Stephen Crabb, local Senedd members Sam Kurtz and Paul Davies, and regional Senedd members Eluned Morgan and Cefin Campbell.

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb said: “No question, this is a milestone moment for Milford Haven and the whole Pembrokeshire economy.

“A lot of hard work has gone into this project, and I am delighted to have been part of the team to get it over the line.”

Labour MS for Mid and West Wales Eluned Morgan said: “The Celtic freeport is a unique opportunity, bringing together industries and communities that will create a synergy for a more prosperous and sustainable future.

“Throughout the process, the Welsh Government has been clear that freeports in Wales must be backed with the same funding provided to sites in England and that fair work and environmental sustainability must be promoted.

“These are the clear principles upon which Welsh freeports would be developed. We have achieved that in both the Celtic Freeport and Anglesey bids which set Welsh freeports apart from those in England.”

Cefin Campbell, Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd for Mid & West Wales said: “The granting of the freeport status is an exciting opportunity for south Wales – building on the huge opportunities offered by the Pembrokeshire coastline in regard to floating offshore wind and green technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture.

“However, the hard work starts now to ensure this freeport status, and the opportunities that come with it, will provide tangible economic growth to south-west Wales and our communities.”


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Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
11 months ago

Oh dear! All these politicians being taken in by the failed FreePort model which will encourage all sorts of dubious trade, ensure that employees rights, health and safety etc. is degraded and so on. There is a bucket of evidence to show that they are not a good idea. Notice that this is a case of Westminster taking money that shoud have come to the Welsh Government (Remember the Brexit campaign promises?) and spending it how Westminster wants not how the Welsh people want. Colonialism again.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Well said – so called ‘free ports’ are a race to the bottom in terms of workers rights, wages and health and safety.

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