Granting free port status to the port of Holyhead could “transform” the fortunes of the town and Anglesey as a whole, the local MP has claimed.
The Government has already promised to create up to 10 free ports across the UK after Brexit.
Being included in such a free port zone would mean that they would be considered to be outside of the UK for customs purposes — meaning companies could import and export goods without paying the usual tariffs.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is widely reported to be planning to open bidding for towns, cities and regions to become free ports in his autumn Budget.
Such reports suggest that the ports would be “fully operational” within 18 months of the UK leaving the customs union and single market at the end of this year.
Virginia Crosbie, in a pre-election pledge, promised to campaign for Holyhead to be given such status which she said would “put Holyhead on the international map” as well as “unleash hundreds of new, good quality jobs” and boost tourism.
Reiterating that pledge this week, she said that a granting such status for the Holyhead – Britain’s second largest roll-on, roll-off port – would be one of her main aims over the coming months.
Describing this as a “monumental decision” for the local community, she said that this would result in hundreds of new job opportunities and investment from both the Government and private sector.
She added: “A Freeport will transform the fortunes of Holyhead and Anglesey, encouraging greater development, investment and tourism to the island.
“I am incredibly proud to represent Holyhead and will do my best to try and secure its Freeport status.”
Anglesey Council Leader, Councillor Llinos Medi, shares similar enthusiasm for such a move.
She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service, “The Isle of Anglesey County Council is fully supportive of the Port of Holyhead securing Freeport status.
“Holyhead is recognised as the 2nd busiest UK port, handling 76% of all roll-on, roll off freight units in Wales.
“Freeport status would attract additional investment into Anglesey, creating additional employment and economic development opportunities.
“As a deep water port, Holyhead is also ideally placed to maximise local benefits from the proposed renewable energy projects off the coast of Anglesey, as well as contributing to the delivery of the Wylfa Newydd project.”
“We have a long standing relationship with Stena Lina, and we look forward to continuing to work collaboratively over next months to secure Freeport status for Holyhead as a driver for investment and job creation.”
Holyhead councillor Glyn Haynes said that while many details would need to be ironed out, he would welcome such a move in principle.
“I know that this has been discussed informally within the council but anything that could have a positive impact on jobs has to be welcomed, especially in this climate,” he said.
“I don’t think the full extent of job losses due to coronavirus and the lockdown has been felt here yet, but sadly that may soon change when the furlough scheme comes to an end.
“But more jobs and job security is exactly what we need here, especially when you take into account the reduced Irish Sea services and lack of cruise ship visits which have a positive effect not only directly but also the wider supply chain on the island.”
Stena have been approached to comment.