Transformational Celtic Freeport bid unveiled
Today (23 November 2022), a public-private consortium unveiled their transformational bid for a Celtic Freeport, which will deliver an accelerated pathway for Wales’ net zero economy. The bid is expected to generate over 16,000 new jobs and generate up to £5.5 billion of new investment.
In front of a packed audience chaired by renowned BBC broadcast journalist, Sarah Dickins, and on the eve of the freeport bidding window closing, the bid team unveiled their vision to create a green investment corridor with long-term commitments on major port infrastructure upgrades, skills development and innovation, all rooted in the fair work principles and enduring trade union engagement.
The transformational bid covers the ports of Milford Haven and Port Talbot and spans clean energy developments and innovation assets, fuel terminals, a power station, heavy engineering and the steel industry across south-west Wales.
Celtic Freeport bid consortium is comprised of Associated British Ports (ABP), Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire County Council and the Port of Milford Haven.
The Celtic Freeport will accelerate significant inward investment in new manufacturing facilities to support the roll-out of floating offshore wind (FLOW) from the Celtic Sea, while providing the backbone for a cleaner future based on the hydrogen economy, sustainable fuels, carbon capture, cleaner steel and low-carbon logistics.
The bid also proposes an ambitious skills agenda that will harness the skills-base, industrial assets and education providers of today for the jobs of tomorrow through dedicated green skills programmes.
The launch event included a joint presentation with a launch video (see below) and Q&A from the core team behind the bid: Andrew Harston, Director Wales and Short-Sea Ports, Associated British Ports (ABP); Karen Jones, CEO, Neath Port Talbot Council; Will Bramble CBE, CEO, Pembrokeshire County Council; and Tom Sawyer, CEO, Port of Milford Haven. World-leading technology investor, successful professional in the mining and mineral sector and Chair of the Celtic Freeport, Roger Maggs MBE also presented to attendees.
Tomorrow (24 November 2022), the Celtic Freeport Consortium will submit their transformational bid to the UK and Welsh governments for assessment. If selected, the successful bid will be announced in the first quarter of 2023.
“Celtic Freeport will mobilise significant international investment into the greener industries of tomorrow. Wales cannot decarbonise, unless south west Wales finds a path to net zero. Our vision will see two new green energy ports at Port Talbot and Milford Haven build out to help create masses of green power from floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea. This acceleration of the green economy will create thousands of high quality jobs, while turbo-charging cleaner steel production and hydrogen generation,” Roger Maggs MBE, Chair of the Celtic Freeport bid consortium.
“We are excited to be partnering with Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire County Council and the Port of Milford Haven on this bid, which will be transformational for the Welsh economy. It will also be vital in the push towards net-zero, with significant investments in clean energy assets, including floating offshore wind (FLOW). Port Talbot is the ideal location for the deployment of FLOW, and ABP is ready to invest over £500m in new and upgraded infrastructure to enable this,” Andrew Harston, Director Wales and Short-Sea Ports, Associated British Ports (ABP).
“We are very pleased to be working in partnership on a bid that has huge potential to transform the economy of Port Talbot and the wider regional and national economy. Energy has played an enormous role here historically. Harnessing the potential of green energy through our existing assets to create a sustainable and low carbon future is a prospect that has our full support,” Karen Jones, CEO, Neath Port Talbot Council.
“The Celtic Freeport’s green investment and innovation corridor will act as a clear signal to the international investment community that south-west Wales is open for business and will remain a central pillar in the country's green energy future. Our plans will create a more secure national energy supply and help diversify the region’s industrial base as Wales accelerates its transition to a decarbonised economy, with many fresh opportunities for future generations,” Will Bramble CBE, CEO, Pembrokeshire County Council.
“The details of our collective bid stir up many emotions for me. It makes me feel incredibly excited about the wealth generation opportunities the freeport will deliver for regional businesses, alongside the well-paid career choices for future generations. I am really optimistic about the life-changing impact this level of economic regeneration can have on local families and communities, and proud that our collaborative approach will accelerate Wales towards a bright, sustainable future,” Tom Sawyer, CEO, Port of Milford Haven.