received an update in regards to the current position in respect of the
Freeport, and the processes involved with this work.
It was explained
that the Celtic Freeport bid scored highest of the three Welsh bids submitted
to UK Government, and since then Officers had been making progress in terms of
the delivery element.
delays, it was confirmed that the Department for Levelling up Housing and Committees (DLUHC) and Welsh
Government had issued draft guidance for this work; and Officers were awaiting
for the final detail to be agreed.
informed that the Freeport Team (consisting of representatives from Neath Port
Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Associated British Ports and Milford Haven Port) were
currently working with KPMG and the interim Celtic Freeport Chief Executive to
draft the outline business case; with hopes to submit at the end of this
In terms of
floating offshore wind, it was stated that there were no bids submitted by
developers in the recent auction process; whilst this raised concerns, Officers
had been assured that the process was being revised. It was noted that the
process, which included agreeing the contracts for difference, will provide
more consideration to the developers next time around.
mentioned, Officers were currently working through the outline business case;
part of this included looking into a number of areas particularly around
skills, innovation and planning. It was noted that from this, Officers will be
drawing up some draft segments to fit within the outline business case.
took place in regards to the next steps, which were highlighted as follows:
Formal submission of the outline business
case, and approval from DLUHC and Welsh
Treasury approval and tax site designation –
Officers had engaged with over 20 land owners across Neath Port Talbot and
Pembrokeshire in order to get the tax site agreements in place;
Proceed with full business case, with the
potential for the Freeport to start trading in late 2024;
Release of capital from UK Government to
allow Officers to undertake a range of works to infrastructure and feasibility
It was explained
that the money will be spent across both Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire,
however the benefits generated by the Freeport would not be restricted to the
two County Boroughs. It was emphasised that the benefits would be realised
across the whole of South Wales.
were presented with the following current challenges associated with the
High level discussions between Welsh and UK
Government were taking place in regards to the non-domestic rates, and the
proportion of which would end up with the Local Authorities in Neath Port
Talbot and Pembrokeshire.
The timescales were noted to be quite
challenging, as there was a lot of responsibility to deliver heavy
documentation in a short period of time. Whilst Officers had the support of
consultant teams, there were certain elements of work that could only be carried
out from within the Local Authorities themselves.
The upcoming General Election in 2024 could
have a profound effect on some of the timelines around the Freeport; with the
addition that there were differing policies for different governments.
The changes at TATA Steelworks; the Freeport
would take on a more prominent and important position given this context. There
was also a certain amount of uncertainty from this, and significant change.
The failure of the latest contract for
difference auction that took place where no bids were made. Whilst the failure
to secure a bid sent a message to the Government in terms of pricing issues,
Officers were conscious that it would also place doubt in the minds of
investors. Officers were working closely with industry to try and mitigate
Executive of Pembrokeshire Council concluded that the Freeport brings
opportunity for an increase in jobs, that would not otherwise of existed; and
had yet to see any evidence of any material displacements being created by the
opportunities in the Freeport development.