Freeports: Wales' two successful bids confirmed with hopes for '20,000 jobs by 2030'

Mark Drakeford and the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak have met to discuss the benefits the new freeports will have. Credit: Downing Street

The two successful freeport bids in Wales have been confirmed by the UK and Welsh Governments.

The Celtic Freeport - covering Milford Haven and Port Talbot - and the Anglesey Freeport in North Wales have been chosen as Wales' first freeports.

Together, both freeports aim to attract £4.9bn in public and private investments, with the potential to create around 20,000 jobs by 2030.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the freeports, which are backed by "£26m in UK Government funding, will see communities across Wales go from "strength to strength".

The Prime Minister and First Minister meet John Goddard looking at charts during a visit to the Port of Holyhead in Anglesey, North Wales. Credit: PA

The freeports will form special zones with the benefits of simplified customs procedures, relief on customs duties, tax benefits, and development flexibility.

Welsh freeports will promote fair work opportunities and prioritise environmental sustainability and the climate emergency, the Welsh government says.

The Prime Minister said the freeports will see Welsh communities go from "strength to strength."

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."

They are designed to promote regeneration and high-quality job creation, become a national hub for global trade and investment across the economy, and foster an innovative environment.

Mark Drakeford hopes the freeport programme "serves as a blueprint for future intergovernmental work".

First Minister of Wales, 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 County Council Leader, Councillor Llinos Medi, said: "We are very glad the Freeport bid has the support of both Governments and that the potential to create jobs which comes in its wake has come to Anglesey."“Freeport status will be an important driver in securing a brighter future for the people of Ynys Môn and north Wales."

Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal in Milford Haven Credit: David Jones/PA

The Celtic Freeport

The freeport will be based around the port of Port Talbot in Neath Port Talbot, and the port of Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.

The plans focus on low carbon technologies, such as floating offshore wind (FLOW), hydrogen, carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) and biofuels to support the accelerated reduction of carbon emissions.

The freeport aims to attract significant inward investment, including £3.5bn in the hydrogen industry as well as the creation of 16,000 jobs, generating £900m in Gross Value Added (GVA) by 2030, and £13bn by 2050.

Virginia Crosbie MP lobbied for the Anglesey Freeport, which was developed and submitted by Anglesey County Council and Stena Line Credit: House of Commons

The Anglesey Freeport, Ynys Môn

The freeport will be based around the port of Holyhead, Anglesey Prosperity Zone, Rhosgoch and M-Sparc.

The freeport will develop the Energy Island Programme (EIP) by focusing on marine energy technology testing on the seabed (tidal and wind).

The freeport aims to create between 3,500 and 13,000 jobs by 2030, with an increased GVA of approximately £500m. It also anticipates significant inward investment, including the possibility of £1.4bn in the green energy sector.

The UK Government will provide up to £26m of non-repayable starter funding for each of the freeports being established in Wales – this represents parity with the deals offered to each of the English and Scottish freeports.

Welsh Ministers agreed to support freeport policies in Wales following the UK Government’s agreement it would meet the Welsh Government’s demands that both governments would act as a ‘partnership of equals’ to establish freeports in Wales.

Freeports are secure customs zones located at ports where business can be carried out inside a country’s land border. Credit: Tees Valley Combined Authority

As part of a fair and open competitive process to determine where the policy should be implemented in Wales, the Welsh Government and UK Government jointly published a prospectus, which set out the policy objectives both governments seek to achieve through the establishment of the freeport programme.

The bidding process opened on 1 September 2022 and closed on 24 November 2022. Three bids were received by the deadline.

The successful bids will be taken forward to the next stage of the process – the development of an outline business case.

A third bid, a multi-site proposal led by Newport City Council with Cardiff Airport at its centre along with other sites in Newport, Blaenau Gwent and the Vale of Glamorgan, was unsuccessful during this round.