In advance of the UK's prime minister Boris Johnston meeting today in Dublin, it was also reported on RTE News of yesterday's visit by Leo Varakar to Dublin Port where the Taoiseach viewed the €30 million investment that has been put in place to prepare for a possible no-deal Brexit.
While on the other side of the Irish Sea politicians recently paid a visit to the Welsh Port of Milford Haven to view operations at the UK’s largest energy Port.
According to the Milford Haven Port Authority, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales Kevin Foster MP was joined by Stephen Crabb MP and Paul Davies AM for a tour of the Pembrokeshire port located in south-west Wales.
The party were taken on a tour of the Waterway onboard a pilot vessel, hosted by the Port’s Chief Executive Andy Jones, Chairman Chris Martin and Harbourmaster Mike Ryan, where they were able to discuss the Port’s vital role as an important hub of regionally and nationally significant economic activity and employment. Naturally this included topics such as Brexit preparedness and the potential opportunity, post-Brexit, for the Port of Milford Haven to be designated as a Freeport.
As supporters of Pembroke Dock Marine which aims to anchor wave, tidal and floating wind renewable energy developers in Pembrokeshire, the Minister, Stephen and Paul were also keen to hear how that project was progressing as part of the Swansea Bay City Deal.
Andy Jones, Chief Executive at the Port of Milford Haven, discussed the potential impact that 0% import tariffs on petrol will have on UK refineries with the Minister. “Not only is Valero a national asset,” said Andy, “in Pembrokeshire it plays a critical role in supporting an otherwise rural economy and is one of Pembrokeshire’s largest employers. Post Brexit, providing the necessary conditions for continued business investment of businesses like Valero in the face of global competition will be essential in order to secure the viability of the energy cluster here”.
“We welcomed the opportunity to share our thoughts on the idea of Milford Haven being designated as a Freeport and expanded on that idea to develop the concept of a Port Zone” continued Andy. “Port Zones would include accelerated regulatory processes. Prioritising Port Zones would also help reduce investment risk and uncertainty and make the Port a more attractive proposition for potential global investors.”
“The UK Government has a vision for Freeports to boost investment, drive innovation, attract high skill jobs, support free enterprise and drive growth in left-behind areas across the UK,” continued Andy “and while Freeports tend to be associated with general purpose manufacturing and logistics, the Port of Milford Haven’s internationally significant energy sector offers a unique opportunity.”
“As the UK’s leading energy port with its cluster of anchor businesses, excellent grid connectivity and world-class supply chain, the Port of Milford Haven would have a strong competitive advantage attracting relevant investment opportunities were it to be a Freeport. A Freeport designation, aligned with the Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone, would seek to support UK oil and gas refining and processing capacity as it competes for global foreign direct investment, restore fish processing capability and support tidal and wave energy development to name a few of the potential opportunities.”
UK Government Minister for Wales Kevin Foster said: “It is fantastic to see the Port of Milford Haven developing plans for a world class centre for marine energy, attracting inward investment and creating more highly skilled jobs. I look forward to working closely with the Port and Welsh Government to develop this project as part of the Swansea Bay City Deal, generating transformational growth across the region.”