Two new Freeports, one in Anglesey and one in Port Talbot and Milford Haven, will help to create jobs, drive growth and level up opportunities across Wales, the UK and Welsh governments have jointly announced.
The new sites are estimated to bring forward almost £5 billion in private and public investment and create over 20,000 new, high-skilled jobs, backed by up to £26 million each in UK Government funding. This will help to boost the economy and address gaps that are currently holding back investment.
Freeports are special areas within the UK’s borders where different economic regulations apply. Alongside a comprehensive package of benefits, the sites will enjoy tax and customs incentives to boost investment, creating thousands of high-quality jobs in some of our most disadvantaged communities.
Anglesey and Celtic Freeports will support businesses to create high-quality, well-paid new jobs, promote growth and regeneration, and make a significant contribution to achieving the UK’s net zero ambitions.
- Anglesey Freeport aims to attract £1.4 billion worth of investment in the green energy sector and create at least 3,500 jobs, generating half a billion in additional Gross Value Added by 2030. The Freeport will have a focus on marine energy technology and low carbon energy and will embark on a variety of infrastructure programmes including the Holyhead port redevelopment and the restoration of the 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, generating £900 million in Gross Value Added by 2030. The Freeport will focus on low carbon technologies like floating offshore wind, hydrogen, carbon capture, utilisation and storage and biofuels to support the accelerated reduction of carbon emissions. This will be supported by the development of land and quayside space and bringing a disused railhead back into operation, to enable infrastructure to support development.
The Prime Minister will meet with the First Minister Mark Drakeford as part of ongoing joint working to deliver for people across Wales.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“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.”
First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford said:
“I am pleased to confirm the Celtic Freeport in Milford Haven and Port Talbot and Anglesey Freeport have been selected as Wales’ new freeports.
“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.”
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said:
“Wales has huge untapped potential, and that’s why we have worked in partnership with the Welsh Government to agree not one but two Freeports for Wales.
“This is the result of both governments working together to deliver for Wales, providing yet another example of Wales benefiting from its place in a strong United Kingdom.
“I am absolutely confident these new Freeports will be transformational for Wales, helping to grow the economy, level up and spread opportunity.”
The UK Government’s Plan for Wales commits to strengthening Wales’ place at the heart of a prosperous UK, growing the economy, levelling up and spreading opportunity right across Wales.
Secretary of State for Wales, David TC Davies, said:
“The creation of two Freeports in Wales is absolutely fantastic news and a huge boost to Wales, growing the economy and creating thousands of jobs.
“The UK Government and this Prime Minister have long been committed to expanding Freeports to Wales and we have more than delivered on that pledge with the two successful bids confirmed today.
“The Freeports programme is already benefitting businesses and levelling up communities elsewhere in the UK. I look forward to seeing greater investment and prosperity delivered for Wales as a result of this announcement.”
Commenting on the selection of Celtic Freeport as one of the candidates for a Welsh Freeport, Roger Maggs MBE, Chair of the Celtic Freeport bid consortium, said:
“We hope that Wales' two freeports will deliver for the country. The future is exciting. The Celtic Freeport has catalysed major business interest, local communities, trade unions and academia in using Wales' largest industrial base as the launchpad for developing new technologies and the renewable energy manufacturing opportunities of tomorrow. This has the potential to unlock £5.5 billion of private and public investment for Wales and create new training and innovation facilities, factories and expanded green energy ports, as well as new alternative fuel production complexes.
“Our green investment and innovation corridor will support the creation of 16,000 green jobs, which will not just be good news for Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock and Neath Port Talbot, but also Bridgend, Carmarthen, Swansea, The Valleys and many other communities across Wales.”
The Celtic Freeport consortium comprises Associated British Ports (ABP), Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire County Council and the Port of Milford Haven. The bid’s strategically located tax and customs sites span almost 250 hectares in Pembrokeshire and Neath Port Talbot.
Cllr David Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, said:
“Today’s announcement that the Celtic Freeport Bid has been successful is fantastic news for Pembrokeshire, Wales and Great Britain.
“The Celtic Freeport will unleash the full green industrial potential of Wales, accelerating the decarbonisation of our most carbon intensive industries and bringing new opportunities to our communities, major international investment and thousands of high skilled jobs to the region.”
Will Bramble CBE, Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire County Council, added:
“The Celtic Freeport will produce significant investment in the region, particularly the focused areas of upskilling our workforce and ultimately creating job opportunities here in south west Wales. Fundamentally this will now put us at the leading edge of the green industrial revolution.”
Cllr Steve Hunt, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, said:
“Today’s announcement is an absolute game changer for Neath Port Talbot and for Wales. It will transform the fortunes of people in all our communities. It puts us at the forefront of the world’s green energy revolution and our residents will soon be working in the industry of the future, learning the skills for securing green, well paid jobs.
Karen Jones, Chief Executive of Neath Port Talbot Council, said:
“This great news is the first step towards a much brighter future here in our county borough. I look forward to working with our partners to make sure local people and businesses have the best possible benefit from what’s now in front of us.”
Tom Sawyer, Chief Executive of the Port of Milford Haven, said:
“As the UK’s Energy Port, the Port of Milford Haven welcomes this fantastic news which allows us to build on the significant multi-million pound investment we’ve already made in the renewables sector at Pembroke Port. But what really excites us about this announcement today is the positive impact it’s going to have on our coastal communities. Securing the jobs of today and creating fantastic opportunities for future generations.”
Andrew Harston, Regional Director, Associated British Ports, said:
“Associated British Ports is absolutely delighted that our Celtic Freeport bid has been successful. Floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Wales, and the scale needed is immense.
“ABP stands ready to invest £500 million in our port at Port Talbot to ensure first mover advantage to capture this global market. We want our ports to act as a base for FLOW manufacturing, maintenance and operations. And it’s not just about FLOW, it’s about sustainable fuels and hydrogen too.”
Bidding opened earlier this year and groups submitted their proposals for Freeport status, which were jointly considered by the UK and Welsh governments. As part of the process, the successful locations had to demonstrate to officials and ministers from both governments how they would regenerate local communities, establish hubs for global trade and foster an innovative environment to support levelling up.
A rigorous joint selection process was followed with the successful applicants both showing a strong determination to create high quality jobs in the green energy sectors.
The UK and Welsh governments will work closely with the Freeports to ensure they deliver maximum positive impact and become operational as soon as possible.
This builds on the UK Government’s successful Freeport programme in England, where all 8 Freeports are open for business, and collaboration with the Scottish Government to deliver two new Green Freeports in Inverness and Cromarty Firth and Firth of Forth. As announced in the Budget, the UK Government also aims to establish at least one Investment Zone in Wales, which will work hand in hand with the Freeport programme to generate sustainable economic growth and level up communities in Wales and across the UK.
The Government will also work with the unsuccessful bidder to consider how they can build on the plans set out in their bids to deliver jobs and growth in their region outside the Freeports programme.