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.”
“Approving the Celtic Freeport, in my view, is absolutely vital in terms of levelling the economy of Wales and projects west Wales as a hub of global trade and investment and is fundamental in revitalising what is actually a very strong manufacturing base in Wales. We have a legacy of really good manufacturing and a strong skills base to support that, but this is a ‘game changer’ that puts us into a global trading position. It will also help foster innovation, create links with academia and support the development of a talent pool that will support, not only the Celtic Freeport, but manufacturing for Wales in the future – both in the short term and the long term.” Heather Anstey-Myers, CEO, Manufacturing Wales
“The Celtic Freeport has the potential to create a new industrial ecosystem of like-minded organisations, trying to drive genuine change and the renewables needs of south Wales and the UK could all be borne from the Celtic Sea. Our analysis suggests that up to 6 million tonnes of steel could be needed within the Celtic Sea by 2045, which is a significant opportunity for us as a producer but it also means that we are going to need high skilled, well paid jobs to support that.” Kamal Rajput, Business Development Manager, Tata Steel UK
“The Celtic Freeport is about seizing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will enable a new type of energy and economy. As a business based in Pembroke, we have seen a lot change over recent years – once there were four operating refineries, now there’s only one, as well as two gas plants but in the emergence of the renewables sector we see great opportunities and the ports play a huge role in that. We have a proven track record in Wales of developing skilled personnel with sound work ethics and freeport status will provide opportunities for extensive employment in high value jobs for people of different ages, pursuing different types of careers.” Nick Revell, Managing Director, Ledwood Mechanical Engineering
“The Celtic Freeport is an essential growth activator for this region, which will assist in the development of highly skilled jobs and become a catalyst for change – and one that is a long time coming. We’ve been working closely with employers to shape the curriculum to fit the skills that they need, both for now and the future. Green skills and green jobs are only going to grow and the curriculum needs to support these, as well as the wider decarbonisation agenda. The Celtic Freeport is also essential in developing the wider supply chain and driving a strategy that ensures we have good, sustainable, local jobs that boost the economy for the future generation that are coming after us.” Catherine Lewis, Acting Principal, NPTC Group of Colleges
“A Celtic Freeport would lock in real benefits for Wales by creating the ability to support the doubling of the UK’s built capacity for floating wind power by 2028. It has the potential to unlock global ambitions for floating wind, in direct alignment with the Welsh Government's clean energy targets. If the UK and Wales want to secure their position in the floating wind future, both nationally and internationally, it is imperative that the government takes the Celtic Freeport initiative forward to the next stage.” Alex Gauntt, Supply Chain Director, Floventis.
Find out more about the Celtic Freeport here: www.celticfreeport.wales
An overview of the Celtic Freeport supporters and partners can be found here