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Securing freeport status ‘vital’ for development of major Celtic Sea wind farm plans says MP

06 Jan 2023 4 minute read
Stephen Kinnock. Picture by Chris McAndrew (CC BY 3.0)

Siân Williams

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.”

Added value

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.”

Port Talbot harbour. Photo by Clint__Budd is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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.”

Freeport

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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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
26 days ago

All sounds rather grand Mr K, in fact it sounds a bit like constructing the concrete caissons and other structures involved in ‘Operation Mulberry’. In this matter many coastal towns of Wales played a role, however I would caution that without serious ‘due diligence’ and open accountability things could go a little ‘Island in the Sun’

Ceramike
Ceramike
26 days ago

Freeport status, or tax avoidance to put it another way, may have benefits for private finance. Whether it actually benefits the local communities is a moot point.

hdavies15
hdavies15
26 days ago
Reply to  Ceramike

Aw shucks, don’t be so tentative. It’s just a recipe for exploitation, dilution even evasion of regulations and all the other little creepy bits that will enrich a few and take most of the others further towards serfdom. Why can’t this crazy government of ours focus on upgrading our economy rather than dragging it down to the lowest common denominator ? They wouldn’t like it if the going rate for soppy feeble Senedd members got marked down to just under £11 an hour with zero hours contacts or little better. Who needs Tories when we have pseudo socialists doing the… Read more »

Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
26 days ago

That is an outright lie…. There is no Welsh Labour. Not with vile cretins like this.
Freeports equal an end to freedom for the individuals corralled into working in them

Stephen Kinnock is selling out the people of Cymru. Shame on him. With these blatant lies, he betrays the land and the people in Cymru. Into the sea with him and all of his kind..

hdavies15
hdavies15
26 days ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

To be expected. After all he is the son of 2 people who did rather well out of climbing onto the Euro bandwagon while distancing themselves from the people who elected them in the first place. Moch yn y cafan.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
26 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Didn’t they just, that little ‘stumble in the shingle’ made them a fortune…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
26 days ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

Him and his kind and not the good people of Fairbourne…

Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
26 days ago

The Celtic freeport bid has a definite purpose beyond being someone’s “good idea”, as the Celtic Sea is the next area for mass offshore wind on the journey to net zero By comparison the Holyhead bid gives no indication whatsoever as to the type of industry it would attract … indeed there is little indication it would attract any There is a similar (larger?) offshore energy opportunity in north Wales but that seems to have been deliberately overlooked for some reason However, the Celtic Sea will be developed irrespective of whether the Celtic bid is successful, and selecting the Celtic… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
26 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan Dean

Ah blessed Energy Island, Ynys Ynni, god forbid that YM should benefit from its natural resources.

Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
25 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I’m sure there is a whole story behind Energy Island

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
25 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan Dean

There is…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
25 days ago

The stretch of water between the Celtic Sea (so named in 1921 by E.W.L. Holt) and the Irish Sea needs a new name…

Last edited 25 days ago by Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
25 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

E.W.L. Holt, some guy, his portrait must be on a wall at Ocean Sciences along with his research vessel ‘Helga’, well worth a wiki…

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