Two Welsh bids awarded Freeport status
The UK and Welsh governments have jointly confirmed that projects based on Anglesey and in Neath Port Talbot/Milford Haven have been awarded Freeport status, following a bidding process which started last year.
Backed by up to £26 million each in UK Government funding, the two freeports are projected to generate an estimated £5 billion of private and public investment and could create over 20,000 new, high-skilled jobs.
The Celtic Freeport bid was submitted 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.
The Anglesey bid was jointly developed with Stena Line, owners of Holyhead port, and Anglesey County Council and backed by local politicians on all sides.
Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The Welsh Government has a clear economic mission to transform the Welsh economy, creating a stronger, fairer and greener future.
“The designation of these sites as Wales’ first freeports will reinforce that mission, building on the significant investments and partnerships we have made in these regions over many years.
“The joint working between governments on the freeport programme should serve as a blueprint for future intergovernmental work on a whole range of issues.”
Anglesey Freeport aims to attract £1.4 billion worth of investment in the green energy sector and create at least 3,500 jobs with a focus on marine energy technology and low carbon energy.
It will also embark on a variety of infrastructure programmes including the Holyhead port redevelopment and restoration of the port’s railhead and track.
Celtic Freeport aims to attract significant inward investment including £3.5 billion in the hydrogen industry as well as the creation of 16,000 jobs.
The freeport will focus on low carbon technologies, including floating offshore wind, hydrogen, carbon capture and biofuel.
This will be supported by the development of land and quayside space and bringing a disused railhead back into operation.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak added: “Wales is a thriving part of the UK, and today’s new freeports will see businesses and opportunities for people in and around Anglesey, Port Talbot and Milford Haven go from strength to strength.
“Everyone deserves equality of opportunity and working closely with the Welsh Government has helped to deliver these fantastic new sites.
“Today’s Freeports show the hard work being done day in, day out to bring new, high-skilled jobs to communities across Wales and deliver on my promise to grow the economy.”
Freeports are special areas within the UK’s borders where different economic regulations will apply.
Alongside a package of benefits, the sites will enjoy tax and customs incentives to boost investment and create employment opportunities in some of Wales’ most disadvantaged communities.
Virginia Crosbie, Ynys Môn MP, described freeport status as “a game changer for our island with huge incentives for investment and jobs after decades of underfunding.
“If we are going to make a difference to islanders’ lives, then this sort of innovative and impactful initiative is the way forward.”
Responding to the successful Celtic Freeport bid, 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.”
Three groups in Wales entered the bidding process last year, submitting their proposals jointly to the UK and Welsh governments.
The Newport Freeport bid (including Cardiff Airport) missed out on selection.
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