LEVELLING UP: Government confirms two new Freeports for Wales creating jobs and driving growth

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The government has confirmed two new Freeports, one in Anglesey and one in Port Talbot and Milford Haven, have been successful in their bids.

The two new Freeports will help to create jobs, drive growth and level up opportunities across Wales, the government has announced today (Thursday 23 March).

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.

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.”

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove added:

“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.”

Wales’ Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:

“I would like to congratulate the Celtic and Anglesey teams for their exceptional bids to be awarded freeport status. Due to the compelling set of proposals presented to us, I have agreed with the UK Government that a second freeport in Wales can be supported.

Our ports are an intrinsic part of our rich industrial history. They will be an engine room of our future economy and these bids are designed to accelerate that journey. From off-shore energy to advanced manufacturing, they will help create tens of thousands of new jobs – which will support our highly ambitious plans to reach net zero by 2050.

This will help harness our abundant economic potential domestically and internationally, whilst promoting fair work and sustainability here in Wales.

I look forward to seeing our freeports delivering meaningful economic and social benefits for Wales.”

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 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.

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 say they 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 say they 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.

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