Freeports are areas of operational and development land linked to a port, where normal tax and customs rules are varied to promote growth and trade.
Imports can enter freeports with simplified customs documentation and with tariffs suspended.
Businesses operating inside designated areas within the freeport can use these imports to manufacture other products.
These products can either be exported without ever facing full tariffs or procedures (subject to trade agreements) or they can be shipped to another part of the country, when they would be subject to the full import process, including paying any tariffs.
A modern UK freeport can comprise a mixture of digitally linked, discreet customs and tax sites.
The aim of freeports is to drive investment into deprived communities, to help increase employment opportunities and boost economic activity in the area.
16,000 new jobs, new fuels production and distribution plants (hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuel, biofuels) and upgraded energy ports.
The Celtic Freeport will accelerate:
- the roll-out of floating offshore wind (FLOW), the hydrogen economy, marine energy and sustainable fuel production
- substantial investment in port infrastructure at Pembroke Port and Port Talbot, and factories to secure first-mover advantage in the global FLOW market
- the delivery of future green skills pathways for young people through a dedicated local legacy fund
- the establishment of an innovation network to bring together academics and businesses, utilising Wales’ existing innovation assets like ORE Catapult.
The Celtic Freeport private-public sector partnership is led by Associated British Ports (ABP), Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire County Council and the Port of Milford Haven.
The Freeport also includes renewables developers, energy companies, industrial complexes, innovation assets, academic institutions and education providers.
Neath Port Talbot Council is the accountable body for the use of public funding by the Celtic Freeport.
An independent chairperson will be selected to act as an ambassador to international investors, governments and local communities, while also chairing a robust governance structure.
A permanent chief executive is due to be post in early 2024.
The Celtic Freeport is founded on meaningful, long-lasting and collaborative relationships.
This will be reflected in the management of the Freeport, with an independent chairperson governing a strong board.
The board will be constituted of public and private sector partners, alongside specialists to support the delivery of the Celtic Freeport’s target sectors and programmes.
Through formal structures, the management team and board will work with the UK and Welsh Governments, social partners and others to ensure the Freeport’s activities are accountable and promote fair work and promote a just transition to a decarbonised economy.
In September 2022, the Welsh and UK Governments invited proposals for a freeport in Wales.
The closing date for bids was 24 November 2022, with the winning bids announced on 22 March 2023.
The Celtic Freeport bid was lodged on behalf of a public-private consortium whose partners include Associated British Ports (ABP), Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire County Council and the Port of Milford Haven.
The consortium is preparing a business case and establishing robust governance arrangements, alongside the necessary corporate and legal structures, to allow for the formal designation of the Freeport by the Welsh and UK Governments in 2024.
Building on the extensive regional specialist skill base, transmission and pipelines, natural capital and distribution facilities, the Celtic Freeport will provide the people, services and spaces for new industries to thrive.
The Celtic Freeport will:
- help unlock the opportunity of floating offshore wind (FLOW) in the Celtic Sea
- support emerging opportunities in the hydrogen economy
- enable the industrial transition towards low-carbon energy systems, fuels and power generation,
- support the growth of effective energy distribution and transportation models.
Other industries across the marine and green economies are also well positioned to benefit from the opportunities presented by the Celtic Freeport.
The Celtic Freeport is set to pool and re-invest 25 years’ worth of non-domestic business rates growth through a number of measures, including the Regional Learning and Skills Partnership for Southwest Wales.
This all adds up to an accelerated pathway to net zero, greater productivity, resilience for existing industries and their supply chains, enhanced export potential, greater energy security and more prosperous and enriched communities for Wales.
The Celtic Freeport will provide long-term, fulfilling employment for current and future generations.
These new jobs will be part of the evolution of existing businesses and also in support of new green industries.
From employment as a welder or an electrical engineer to a marine surveyor or a gas engineer, the Celtic Freeport will offer many opportunities to support the creation of port infrastructure, alternative fuel plants, renewable energy bases and factories.
Using a substantial local legacy fund, the Freeport will boost skills training and re-training for local communities.
Whether your business is a specialist supplier, a construction company or service provider, there will be many opportunities for you and your company.
Over the coming months as the vision is developed and delivered, the Freeport will work with business representative bodies and local supply chains to ensure that the future demand is understood.
The Celtic Freeport is aiming to create new port infrastructure, alternative fuel plants, renewable energy bases and factories, as well as support the continued operation of the many businesses across south Wales.
No. The proposed Celtic Freeport outer boundary excludes these areas.
These areas are categorically not identified for development, now or in the future, nor will it receive any special planning or regulatory status that may encourage development.
No. The UK and Welsh governments and the Celtic Freeport consortium have publicly stated that there will no dilution of employment, environmental and social standards.
All tax site operators and freeport partners are committed to the fair work principles and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
Payment of the Living Wage will be a central condition in our freeport investment decision principles guiding new investment.
This will be implemented and monitored by the Board of the Freeport and the governments.
The Celtic Freeport will adhere to the OECD Code of Conduct for Clean Free Trade Zones and the specific anti-illicit trade and security measures therein and will maintain the obligations set out in the UK’s Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017.
More processing, manufacturing and port jobs will help to alleviate local deprivation.
Ports employment is significantly better paid than local community averages, with each port job estimated to be 50% more productive and 40% better paid than the average wage (UK Major Ports Group, 2022).