Stena Line and Anglesey County Council have announced their intention to submit a major freeport bid to bring prosperity and an economic boost to the region for many years to come.
As well as Holyhead port, Stena Line has invested in a major 213-acre site, which, aligned with a number of sites that are in the process of being selected across Anglesey, will lead to wide-ranging benefits to many parts of the region’s economy.
Swedish company Stena Line is pledging a major foreign investment in Holyhead Port, which is the second largest roll-on/roll-off port in the country and an international gateway to Ireland, via the Irish Sea and an integral part of the “land bridge” between Britain and the EU. Offering the fastest, most reliable route to transport goods between Ireland and the Continent. If successful, the bid is predicted to return Holyhead to pre-Brexit levels of trade and cement the area as a hub for innovation in trade and clean energy, with industry-leading initiatives along its coastline driving the UK towards its net zero objectives.
The formal bid will be submitted next week to the UK and Welsh Governments. There are already discussions underway with major businesses and institutions who are supporting the bid and are interested in bringing investment to the freeport. The local public are now being asked to unite behind the bid and show their backing for this once in a lifetime opportunity for the region by registering their support at angleseyfreeport.co.uk.
Freeports remove barriers to trade and provide easements that simplify how businesses can operate. According to initial modelling estimates, the Anglesey Freeport would attract £1bn of much-needed investment, including new, high-salary jobs, in the range of 3,500-13,000 across the region. The bid, which has the backing of 17 major businesses from a range of sectors and industries, including Rolls Royce, Bechtel and Last Energy, along with major educational partners such as Bangor University, would see the establishment of a secure customs zone at Holyhead and other sites on Anglesey with special tax and tariff arrangements designed to attract major domestic and international investment.
Ian Hampton, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director at Stena Line said: “Stena Line is determined to see a transformation in investment and economic activity for the Anglesey community. We have been part of this community for over 27 years and want to see this bid succeed. We know it can bring in transformational investment, drive innovation and create high-skilled, high-wage, high-value jobs. It can cement the region as a hub of global trading excellence.
“The freeport has many different elements. As well as manufacturing hub it can become a world leader in blue innovation, help the realise the successful vision of the Energy Island Programme and we want to see the establishment of World Customs Academy on the Ynys Môn.”
Cllr. Carwyn Jones, Deputy Leader of the Council said: “A freeport would be a key pillar in creating long term, sustainable economic development on the Island and across the Region. Too many of our people, particularly our young people, feel they need to leave the Island to get decent jobs and a secure future. We want that to change, and it can.
“To do this we need the investment to reinvigorate the local economy in a long-term and sustainable way. This will enable communities that are healthy, thriving, and prosperous, as well as keeping the Welsh language alive on the island. That is the key to a secure future for the people of Anglesey and indeed north Wales.
“We are particularly pleased to have an education, skills and training component so prominent in the bid thinking. It is fantastic to have ongoing conversations with Bangor University, a world leader in impact-driven research, to identify and tailor educational opportunities to the potential job creation that the Freeport could support.”
Virginia Crosbie, MP for Ynys Môn, said: “As a long-term advocate for the Anglesey freeport, I am confident that it will deliver high-salary, high-skilled jobs to local people in their thousands, as well as act as a magnet to attract long-term, sustainable investment from businesses across the world.
“The Anglesey freeport will be an economic engine room which will entice new investment and deliver modern opportunities for the North Wales economy, and I’ve been delighted to meet with so many local and international businesses who are united in their support for the freeport. It’s clear that without freeport status, the potential for Anglesey to benefit from business investment would be at risk, and damage the opportunities which could be afforded to our communities.
“I’m determined to do all I can to work with the bidding parties to ensure my constituents benefit from this once in a generation opportunity – turbocharging our local economy and ensuring Anglesey remains a sustainable powerhouse.”
Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn said: “This is a bid Ynys Môn can really get behind. It’s been great to work with Anglesey Council and Stena in shaping a bid that reflects our ambitions as a community. We wanted safeguards on workers’ rights and the environment, which we got, along with a much stronger financial package than the original offer. The result has enabled us to put together a bid wich is compelling, exciting and sustainable.
“This is a strong bid, allowing us to maximise the potential of the port and spread benefits across the island in terms of job creation and enhancing education and training opportunities.”
Alastair Evans, Corporate Affairs Director at Rolls-Royce, said: “Anglesey presents a number of unique characteristics which continue to appeal to our long-term business interests; its well-established trade infrastructure alongside a renowned position as a sustainable energy hub are characteristics which make it extremely attractive. Our interest in deploying our Rolls-Royce SMR technology at the Wylfa Newydd nuclear site has been well publicised, and we’re keen that the UK government continues to create conditions which would attract our innovative and deployable solution to North Wales at pace.
While Anglesey at present remains attractive to long-term investment, the addition of the proposed freeport could enhance its offer to our business.”