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Welsh Government agrees to freeport in Wales – if UK Government treats it as a ‘partnership of equals’

12 May 2022 4 minutes Read
Holyhead Harbour. Picture by Darren Glanville (CC BY-SA 2.0).

The Welsh Government has confirmed it has reached agreement with the UK Government on the establishment of Freeports in Wales.

Welsh Ministers have agreed to support Freeports in Wales following the UK Government’s agreement to meet demands that Westminster provide at least £26m of non-repayable starter funding for any Freeport established in Wales, which represents  parity with the deals offered to English Freeports.

Initially Wales was being offered just £8m to set up a Freeport.

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart had also threatened to impose a Freeport on Wales without an agreement from the Welsh Government.

The UK Government have agreed to meet a number of other demands – including that both Governments will act on the basis of a ‘partnership of equals’ to deliver any Freeports in Wales.

In addition, both Governments have agreed a Freeport will only be implemented if it can be demonstrated clearly it will operate in a manner that aligns with the Welsh Government’s policies on fair work and environmental sustainability, including the commitment to Wales becoming a net-zero carbon nation.

Fair to Wales

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “Following considerable engagement between our Governments, I’m pleased we have been able to reach agreement with UK Ministers to establish Freeports in Wales. The agreement we have reached is fair to Wales and respects the Welsh Government’s responsibilities in devolved policy areas.

“However, we have made it clear to the UK Government that a Freeport will only be implemented if it can be demonstrated, using robust evidence and analysis, that it will support our fair work agenda and deliver long-term, sustainable benefits for Wales, and value for money for Welsh taxpayers.

“I very much hope that the UK Government’s willingness to work with the Welsh Government as equals on Freeports can provide a positive model for future co-operation between our governments on other initiatives.”

The UK Government’s Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove said:

“I am delighted that Wales is the latest area in the UK set to benefit from a new Freeport.

“The UK Government’s ambitious Freeports agenda will help to level up our coastal communities and create new opportunities for people right across the country.

“Together with the Welsh Government, I look forward to seeing innovative proposals come forward that demonstrate tangible benefits for the people of Wales.”

In addition, Welsh and UK Ministers have agreed:

The UK Government will provide tax incentives for Freeports in Wales in parity with Freeports in other parts of the United Kingdom for the reserved taxes that have been designated to advance the policy aims. The Welsh Government will design tax reliefs from local and devolved taxes (Non-Domestic Rates and Land Transaction Tax) to support the policy aims.

Economic development

Both Governments will remain open to the possibility of a multi-site Freeport in Wales. In recognition of Wales’ unique economic geography and the Welsh Government’s aspirations for economic development in Wales, the UK Government is willing to relax the 45 km boundary limit for a multi-site Freeport solution, should there be a sufficiently compelling case for doing so.

Both Governments will remain open to the possibility of allowing more than one Freeport in Wales, should they be presented with a sufficiently compelling business case.

As with English Freeports, a fair and open competitive process will be used to determine where the policy should be implemented in Wales. Both Governments will work together to co-design the process for Freeport site selection, and both will have an equal say in all decisions throughout the implementation process. This includes the final decision on site selection.

Both Governments have begun the process of designing the bid prospectus for the competition and say further details about the timing of next steps will be released in due course.


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GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
9 days ago

When it comes to the English government, are the Welsh Labour government being deliberately naive or are they just a bunch of cavity heads? How many times do they need to be lied to and backstabbed before they get the message. NEVER TRUST THE GOVERNMENT OF THE OCCUPIERS! Even if their own party was in charge in Wastemonster, they will still backstab them and our country.

Cynan
Cynan
9 days ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

I hope it’s just Y Senedd being pragmatic. I don’t think there’s any risk of us trusting Westminster, but the big squalling baby that is WM has proven before that it is spiteful when you prick its ego. Until we decide we are just going to secede from the disunion irrespective of what the big baby wants, we have to play the ball(s) in front of us.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
9 days ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

Just about in full agreement GW except to say this demonstrates perfectly the value of having our own Government and Parliament. They may still want to backstab us so we must keep facing them and Simon Hart made clear that we would have been bypassed and buried by having a Westminster cash feeding imposed Freeport without the protection of our own ministers to negate such abuse.

Quornby
Quornby
9 days ago

So Hart was happy to sell Wales £18M short?

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
9 days ago
Reply to  Quornby

The secretary of state for Wales was not elected or chosen in Wales, so why does he have any power to impose anything on Wales.

This is occupation and imperialism.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
9 days ago

Given today’s insane announcement by the Tory Attorney General that she would make up international law on the hoof, do we trust these scumbags to deliver on a promise?

“Not a penny less”, 300,000 houses, now Freeports?

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
9 days ago

Besides Wales initially being short-changed to the tune of £20 million then threatened with imposition if we didn’t comply, the deal English ports were offered compared to Wales would-be Freeport by this idiocratic Tory Government was a national slight. And any agreement signed & sealed by this Conservative circus is not worth the Tory toilet paper written on. Less Mark Drakeford & Welsh Labour forget. The same Conservative Government reassured the then First Minister Carwyn Jones that Post-Brexit Whitehall would respect Welsh Devolution, then when Boris Johnson’s regime was elected to power by Brexiteers reneged on their promise stealing not… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
9 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Apologies. Just realised. Got my figures wrong. With the Tories only offering Wales £8 million for our Freeport short-changed us by £18 million not £20 million as stated in my post. At least I admit when I’m wrong, unlike the Conservatives.

Last edited 9 days ago by Y Cymro
thuggee
thuggee
9 days ago

i thought welsh labour were objecting to having a freeport dumped on us because they were rip offs, a public sector subsidy to wealthy industries, that reduces wages and employment standards, and doesn’t achieve any of the things the tories say it does, but now they;ve got the money they’re happy to inflict those things on us.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
9 days ago
Reply to  thuggee

Freeports are a dead loss which is why they were abandoned in the UK. For those who want to know more there is a serious article here (Institute of Government). Unfortunately most people do not realise what they are and so are susceptible to Tory Propaganda.

Mawkernewek
9 days ago

It looks to me that they have decided to cloak the lower funding per Freeport by allowing a single ‘multi-site’ Freeport. Do they think people are stupid?

Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards
9 days ago

Who in Wales understands shipping? A Freeport requires entrepreneurial people like those in Liverpool, Hamburg, Singapore etc. A “Multi-site” Freeport is just another Welsh Govt dodge to spread London money top-down between the existing ports in Wales. The problem is our culture. Like when Labour abolished the WDA. Being ex-NYK, FarrelI Lines and P&O, I’ve had several shots at this, and still have scars on my back. Much better to work bottom-up ie ask the few Welsh people who know about shipping and create one hub, no matter how small, that can do unwoke things like take risks and innovate.… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
9 days ago

Following the failure of Cardiff as a free port, the company was desolved,why waste more money creating new ones in our country. Why were the ones in England, eg Liverpool, Birmingham Southampton also closed by David Cameron, if they were any good.? They failed in the past , and the Tory’s got rid of them.

Last edited 9 days ago by Gareth
Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards
8 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

Why bother? If done right, shipping is very lucrative and a big asset for any small country – ask Norway! Very frustrating Wales has such poor rulers

Cynan
Cynan
8 days ago

After independence we will have better ones. Our own people

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
3 days ago

We should cut the WG a bit of slack over this. Cymru would have had a freeport imposed on it whether Cardiff Bay wanted it or not. Gething has accepted the inevitable and negotiated to make it work a fraction more in Wales’ interests. The alternative would have resulted in the WG being sidelined and humiliated by Johnson – again!

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