Securing freeport status ‘vital’ for development of major Celtic Sea wind farm plans says MP
Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock says success for the Celtic Freeport bid is a “vital” factor in plans for the development of a major offshore floating windfarm project in the Celtic Sea.
The Celtic Freeport group claims that if its bid is successful it will attract inward investment of up to £5.5 billion and create 16,000 new jobs and would also support the roll-out of floating offshore wind (FLOW) within the Celtic Sea.
The UK and Welsh Governments have received bids from three Welsh ports, Anglesey, Cardiff Airport and a joint application by Milford Haven and Port Talbot, interested in setting up the Freeport Programme worth £26 million in funding.
Milford Haven and Port Talbot are pitching under under the name of Celtic Freeport, which is a consortium of Associated British Ports, Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire County Council and the Port of Milford Haven.
Roger Maggs, Chair of the Celtic Freeport bid said last month: “Creating two green energy ports at Pembroke Dock and Port Talbot is central to the bid … The Celtic Freeport partners have a clear vision which will support Wales’s transition to Net Zero in a way that ensures the skills, jobs and economic benefits from new, green industries are retained in Wales.”
Mr Kinnock said that securing freeport status “is a vital part of the plan as an accelerator to attract investment.
“If we are given freeport status there will be a lot of incentives. It will act as a magnet for people to come in and invest in offshore wind with much lower taxation and tariff arrangements. It would be a major boost and catalyst for the whole FLOW project.”
What Mr Kinnock refers to as the “big added value” of the Celtic Freeport is that it will make a huge contribution to rebuilding the area’s entire manufacturing sector.
“When you’re talking about a £54 billion supply chain, and with all due respect to the other freeport bids – they don’t come close to the strategic impact of the Celtic Freeport bid.
“It is deeply integrated with floating offshore wind. The two absolutely feed off each other.”
According to Mr Kinnock: “Port Talbot has been identified alongside Milford Haven as two obvious places where both the manufacture of wind turbines, and the floating sub structures that the turbines would be mounting on, can be manufactured and serviced.”
His argument is that the deep-sea harbour in Port Talbot is uniquely well placed to build a dry dock, and therefore extending the harbour in order to bring in the raw materials for the steel works.
On completion, the building work would then be floated into the harbour and then pulled out on barges way out into the Celtic Sea to be moored and start generating energy.
Furthermore, he added: “The exciting thing is that (FLOW) is much more cost effective and flexible because you can position the fleet of floating offshore wind turbines pretty much anywhere in the sea to catch the most wind.”
Although bids have been received from three Welsh ports, as we draw nearer to the Spring, when the final joint decision will be made by Welsh Government and UK Government Ministers, it’s increasingly being seen as a two-horse race.
The Celtic Freeport bid is competing against the Holyhead Freeport bid, which is a partnership between Anglesey County Council and Stena Line.
The Tory MP for Anglesey is Virginia Crosbie. She recently told Nation.Cymru that she has been working on the Anglesey Freeport bid for over three years, and that she has had the opportunity to speak about it more than 27 times in the House of Commons Chamber.
She said: “A freeport will generate thousands of jobs and help keep our young people on the island. It will benefit the whole of north Wales and bring in investment.”
“It has the backing of M-Sparc (Wales’s first Science Park, opened in 2018), as well as Bangor University and further education college Grŵp Llandrillo Menai.”
The Conservative MP said analysis conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, indicates that an Anglesey Freeport could create high skilled and well-paid jobs.
Anglesey County Council, in a statement said: “Freeports remove barriers to trade and provide easements that simplify how businesses can operate.
“According to initial modelling estimates, the freeport would attract £1bn of much-needed investment, including new, high-salary jobs, in the range of 3,500 to (potentially) 13,000 across north Wales.”
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