Helping support the development of offshore wind, hydrogen and sustainable fuels in the Swansea Bay City Region, a bid for green ‘freeport’ status is making progress.
The Corporate Joint Committee (CJC) for South West Wales has given its in-principle backing to the bid, which is being led by Neath Port Talbot Council and Pembrokeshire Council in partnership with the ports of Milford Haven and Port Talbot.
Aimed at encouraging economic activity, freeports are zones designated by the UK Government as areas with little or no tax.
If the South West Wales bid is successful, it would bring together the ports of Milford Haven and Port Talbot to help accelerate investment in green energy industries and skills.
This would follow-on from the creation of regional energy and economic development plans, which were approved by the CJC earlier this year.
Cllr David Simpson, Pembrokeshire Council Leader, said:
“Both Pembrokeshire and Neath Port Talbot have exciting, shared opportunities for green energy infrastructure of national significance, including floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea.
“Green freeport status would unlock these opportunities, helping create jobs and protect our energy security while also making the most of the region’s skilled workforce, existing facilities and closeness to key markets.
“In-principle backing from the CJC is the latest step forward for the development of a very compelling bid.”
Work is now taking place with other regional local authorities, established and emerging industry representatives, unions and academics to further develop the bid, which has to be submitted to the UK Government by November 24.
Cllr Rob Stewart, CJC Chairman, says it’s important benefits are spread across the region.
“All partners are supporting the freeport bid in principle as it will generate wider economic benefits for the entire region,”
“This will include positive, knock-on effects for Swansea and Carmarthenshire too, while also complementing plans Swansea Council is supporting for the Blue Eden project in Swansea Bay that will include a tidal lagoon.
“The region will also be exploring the recent UK Government announcement around investment zones, and will look to include this in our wider economic development strategy.”
Subject to agreements, the CJC has also approved the appointment of voluntary private sector experts to provide specialist advice in areas it covers. These include energy, economic development, strategic land use planning, and transport.
The South West Wales Corporate Joint Committee is aimed at further driving economic prosperity across the region. The Committee is made up of the Leaders of Carmarthenshire Council, Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire Council and Swansea Council, as well as senior representatives of the Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire National Park Authorities.
Feeding into the committee, sub-groups have also been set up for the themes it covers.