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West Wales Freeport could create 16,000 jobs, say supporters

From Manufacturing Wales to Tata Steel UK, Ledwood Mechanical Engineering to RWE, Floventis to NPTC Group of Colleges, momentum is gathering behind a freeport bid that will accelerate Wales’ decarbonisation and act as a catalyst for the transformation of Wales’ industrial cluster.

Over 100 organisations and politicians have come together to back the transformational bid for a Celtic Freeport. Supporters include global industrial giants and Welsh engineering and construction businesses, green energy developers, decarbonisation groups and trade associations, universities, colleges and local politicians.

On 24 November 2022, a public-private consortium lodged its bid for a Celtic Freeport with the UK and Welsh governments.  Spanning 600 hectares of development land across sites in Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire, the bid sets out a vision to deliver an accelerated pathway for Wales’ net zero economy. It is also expected to support over 16,000 jobs and generate up to £5.5 billion of new investment.

The Celtic Freeport will accelerate significant inward investment in new manufacturing facilities to support the roll-out of floating offshore wind (FLOW) in the Celtic Sea, giving Wales global first-mover advantage in this new form of clean, reliable energy. It will also provide the backbone for a greener future, with strengthened export and supply chain opportunities based on the hydrogen economy, sustainable fuels, carbon capture, cleaner steel and low-carbon logistics.

The Celtic Freeport bid covers the ports of Milford Haven and Port Talbot and includes clean energy developments and innovation assets; fuel terminals; a power station; heavy, light and advanced engineering; and the steel industry across south west Wales.

It will create a green investment corridor, securing long-term commitments for major port infrastructure upgrades, skills development and innovation. The bid is rooted in the fair work principles and enduring trade union engagement.

The bid also proposes an ambitious skills agenda through dedicated green skills programmes that will harness the skills-base, industrial assets and education providers of today, for the jobs of tomorrow.

The Celtic Freeport Consortium comprises Associated British Ports (ABP), Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire County Council and the Port of Milford Haven. However, a huge range of organisations have been involved in the development of the proposals and spoken out in support of the bid.

“The support we have received for the Celtic Freeport proposals has been phenomenal, both prior to submission and since the bid was submitted,” explains Roger Maggs MBE, Chair of the Celtic Freeport consortium.

“There has been a real appetite from across a wide range of industry sectors, as well as from education and politicians at all levels, to ensure Wales and the UK takes full advantage of the massive opportunity that exists through the generation of floating offshore wind energy in the Celtic Sea. Achieving freeport status would give the entire region an enormous boost, whether that is in achieving our net zero targets, creating high-skilled jobs, attracting new investment, developing innovative technology, supporting future skills or putting our manufacturing sector on a path to a sustainable future.”