A special meeting of senior Pembrokeshire councillors has backed the next stages in the county’s recently-approved freeport.

In late March it was announced that Pembrokeshire had 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 will be shared between Milford Haven and Port Talbot, with a second Welsh freeport on Anglesey.

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 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.

At today’s May 9 extraordinary meeting of the council’s Cabinet, members heard an update on the Freeport, and a request for approval for the next stages to enable the development and submission of the Outline and Full Business Cases necessary.

The establishment of the Freeport company will be subject to a satisfactory outline business case being approved by UK and Welsh Governments and a further report to Cabinet.

A report for members stated: “Subject to the development of a business case the Freeport will receive up to £26m of government funding; £25m of capital ‘seedcorn’ funding and £1m of support to develop the business cases.

"This is on top of a range of measures, including locally retained business rates to upgrade local infrastructure and stimulate regeneration.

“Businesses locating within a Freeport will be able to take advantage of generous tax reliefs and a simplified customs procedure, as well as a package of trade and innovation support.”

Moving the recommendation, Councillor Paul Miller said the news of the successful Freeport bid had already seen increased business interest in the Haven, adding: “The conversations with prospective investors in the Haven start today, in fact, yesterday.”

He was seconded by Councillor Jon Harvey, who said: “Massive congratulations to the team, and Cllr Miller; it just shows the ambition this administration has. We’re talking billions of pounds of investment into the area.”

Members approved a string of recommendations, including entering into a Memorandum of Understanding, allocating £200,000 from the Initiative Fund reserve to support the further development of the full business case and the establishment of the Celtic Freeport Company, and, subject to confirmation of the tax sites, approve an annual revenue contribution (for an initial five-year period) of some £50,000 a year.

The report lists the following benefits, and their expected timelines.

  • Land Transaction Tax relief (subject to WG legislation); Maximum five years anticipated.
  • Enhanced Structures and Building allowance; 10 years.
  • Enhanced capital allowances (qualifying plant/machinery); To February 2028.
  • Employer NI contributions  (0 per cent up to three years per employee); To Feb 2028/possible 2031.
  • Business rate (NNDR) relief  (100 per cent); Maximum five years.