Alec Don, Chief Executive at the Port of Milford Haven, calls for the establishment of super-charged enterprise zones in readiness for a post-Brexit business environment.
"We see first-hand the importance of clusters in driving industrial growth. The Port of Milford Haven is Wales’ largest port and the UK’s largest energy port. It is home to the UK’s largest single cluster of energy related businesses, handling or processing approximately 20% of Britain's energy requirements and supporting 5,000 Welsh jobs. It is expanding its industry base to include the renewables sectors, particularly wave, tidal and floating wind, but is also home to tourism and leisure, ship building and fishing industries.
All these industries could dramatically benefit from post-Brexit opportunities but they need the right support. Ports are a nexus of transport connections where manufacturers want to be located and where value added occurs. The significant economic clusters that have built up around many of the UK’s ports have done so because of ports’ natural capital such as access to deep water or a sheltered harbour, allowing multi-national and regional businesses to thrive and driven economic growth. Providing the right policy, regulatory and fiscal conditions for these clusters to evolve and grow relatively unfettered is crucial to the success of the British economy.
We want to see major economic centres such as ports and airports prioritised as economic zones. Within these super-charged zones, trade and industrial activity could be incentivised by a favourable development, planning and trading regime. When opportunities to secure some inward, or indeed locally generated investment, arise we will need to be internationally competitive in terms of how fast we can move to capture the investment, reducing the risks for the investors and the operators alike. Our Research and Development processes need to be made more productive, in exactly the same way as our manufacturing and services sectors need to become more productive.
Change is upon us. We must embrace these new opportunities and ensure the UK continues to grow as a leading industrial nation with strong manufacturing and processing outputs. We believe that turning our ports and airport into super-charged economic zones will deliver the right conditions for maximum long term, stable growth."
As featured in Business News Wales, May 2018.