Pembrokeshire has been chosen as part of the site for one of Wales’ first freeports, with hopes it will share in the creation of 16,000 new jobs.

The Celtic Freeport in Milford Haven and Port Talbot, along with Anglesey Freeport on Ynys Mon have been chosen as Wales’ first freeports, the Welsh and UK Governments announced today, March 22.

In May 2022, the Welsh Government reached an agreement with the UK Government, with both governments acting as a ‘partnership of equals’, to establish a freeport programme in Wales.

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 freeport – expected to be operational later this year – aims to attract significant investment, including £3.5bn in the hydrogen industry, as well as the creation of 16,000 jobs, generating £900m in Gross Value Added (GVA) by 2030, and £13bn by 2050.

The UK Government will provide up to £26m of starter funding for each of the freeports.

Announcing the winning bids, First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford said: “The Welsh Government has a clear economic mission to transform the Welsh economy, creating a stronger, fairer and greener future.

“The designation of these sites as Wales’ first freeports will reinforce that mission, building on the significant investments and partnerships we have made in these regions over many years.

“The joint working between governments on the freeport programme should serve as a blueprint for future intergovernmental work on a whole range of issues.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb said: “No question, this is a milestone moment for Milford Haven and the whole Pembrokeshire economy.

“A lot of hard work has gone into this project, and I am delighted to have been part of the team to get it over the line.  The economic and industrial vision behind the Celtic Freeport is exciting and achievable. I’m thrilled that the case we made to UK and Welsh Governments has been successful.

“The announcement today shows the world that Wales is serious about floating offshore wind and puts us on a firm footing to capture as much local economic benefit as possible. Securing Freeport status will send a powerful signal to developers, unlocking new investment in high quality jobs and training opportunities.”

He was joined in his welcome by local Senedd Member for Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire, Samuel Kurtz MS, who said: “The Celtic Freeport will be transformative for our communities along the Haven Waterway and the wider county, and I’m delighted that the UK and Welsh governments agree.

“Having backed the bid from day one, I’m pleased it gained cross-party support and shows what can be achieved through collaboration and partnership.

“This announcement is the beginning of a new chapter for West Wales. Billions of pounds worth of investment, thousands of new green jobs, and a commitment to a thriving future for our important ports, local industries, and our communities.”

Welsh Conservative spokesperson on ports policy and Senedd Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, Paul Davies expressed his delight at the announcement.

“The Freeport will unlock huge opportunities for the local area by accelerating innovation and encouraging significant investment.

“It will support thousands of new jobs, generate billions of pounds of investment, and play a key role in accelerating the roll-out of floating offshore wind.”

He added: “It will also put Pembrokeshire on the map as an area as a global leader in the field of green energy and be transformational for communities in southwest Wales.

“I look forward to hearing more about the Freeport’s development as it takes place and I’m excited to see it reach its potential and make a real difference in our area.”

The freeports will form special zones with the benefits of simplified customs procedures, relief on customs duties, tax benefits, and development flexibility.

They are designed to promote regeneration and job creation, become a national hub for global trade and investment across the economy, and foster an innovative environment.