Welsh trio in the running for Freeport status
Bids have been received from three Welsh ports interested in setting up the Freeport Programme worth £26 million in UK Government funding.
The applications are from Anglesey, Cardiff Airport and a joint application by Milford Haven and Port Talbot.
The latter bid, under the name of Celtic Freeport, is a consortium of Associated British Ports, Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire County Council and the Port of Milford Haven.
All three bids are supported by other stakeholders as well.
Anglesey Freeport is a partnership between Isle of Anglesey County Council and Stena Line. Virginia Crosbie MP for Anglesey told Nation.Cymru: “I have been working on the bid for Anglesey to be a freeport for over three years now, and I have spoken about it more than 27 times in the House of Commons Chamber.”
She added: “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 the (north Wales).”
The Celtic Freeport bid also claims it will attract “significant inward investment” into the area. Crucially, perhaps, it would also support the roll-out of floating offshore wind (FLOW) within the Celtic Sea. This project is of significant importance to Welsh Government.
Roger Maggs, Chair of the Celtic Freeport bid said: “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.”
First Minister Mark Drakeford told a recent Welsh Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons on 30 November, that in order to, “invest in the renewable energy future in Wales, a significant port infrastructure is needed that will have a genuine economic impact on that area. Wales has a number of natural ports that offer unique advantages,” he said.
The three bids received will now be assessed by officials from the Welsh Government and from the UK Government before being put to Minister to decide.
The successful bid will be announced in Spring 2023.
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