Shaping Pembrokeshire’s future

The Port of Milford Haven is one of the leading drivers of the local economy in the county of Pembrokeshire, in the south west of Wales. “The Port, alongside the businesses that operate in the Haven, employ about 4000 people, which accounts to close to 20 per cent of the employment in the region,” the Port’s CEO, Alec Don tells us.

And the works on Pembrokeshire’s further development seem nowhere near ceasing. The Port of Milford Haven achieved a £22.4 million turnover in 2017, with the group operating at a profit of £3.7 million, while numerous plans have been devised, and more are set to be launched over the course of 2018. Alec was happy to provide us with an overview of 2017 for the company, and the projects it is going to advance in 2018, the company’s 60th Anniversary year.

“It was a busy year in terms of development. Our plan is focused mainly on two of our assets – Pembroke Port and Milford Waterfront. We are working on a project we call Pembroke Dock Marine that will see us redevelop a significant proportion of the port. It is one of the headline undertakings of the Swansea Bay City Deal, which involves four councils in west Wales (including Pembrokeshire), and consists of a total of 11 projects. We are expecting that the Pembroke Dock Marine project will generate around £76 million of investment. What we are trying to do there is create a commercial space for developers to design, test, build and deploy renewable energy devices. It is also going to substantially support the boat building industry in the area. The space could also be utilised for supporting the construction of nuclear power stations, for decommissioning oil rigs and other port related activities, if the opportunity presented itself,” Alec details.

“We are also regenerating the town of Milford Haven by developing the Milford Waterfront area,” he adds. “It is a busy place and a great shopping location, sitting alongside 100,000 square feet of retail space, so we want to give it more critical mass. As part of this programme, we acquired Haven’s Head Retail Park which spreads across 18,000 square feet of retail space and includes much loved national retail brands such as Tesco and Boots. It is an area near the waterfront, and there are lots of flats and offices around it. Our plan is to put in 380,000 square feet of development over time to consolidate and expand it further. There is a lot of work to be done, but we are now beginning with the construction of the first developments. This tourism and retail investment will be instrumental to diversifying the business further, and reducing our dependence on oil and gas.”

Alec recognises the central role the Port of Milford Haven plays in a wider economic and social context, so he emphasises the benefits its expanded activity will deliver to the Welsh economy as a whole, and the community of Pembrokeshire, in particular. “Our own plans at Pembroke Port and Milford Waterfront are aligned with those of the Welsh Government, which is now drawing up its economic action plan, as well as with Pembrokeshire County Council, which is currently reviewing its local development plan. We all have the health and well being of future generations at the heart of our considerations. We are seeking to create environments that are not only attractive to businesses, but are great places to live, in sustainable communities with strong interconnectivity to electricity generation, renewable energy generation, and public transport,” Alec certifies.

He opens up on the new job opportunities the ongoing projects have the capability of creating: “The Pembroke Dock Marine project should be able to add about 1200 new jobs, if it reaches its full potential. The upcoming Milford Waterfront development is expected to create another 650 jobs for Milford Haven. The good thing is that these jobs will emerge in sectors that are not directly connected to the oil and gas industry, therefore they would be independent of its prospects, albeit still closely interrelated. They will create and help support the supply chain for a vital local employment sector. We understand that we need to invest and broaden the economy as much as possible. We want to create sustainable jobs, and give people roles which will give them purpose and confidence in their lives,” Alec summarises.

Speaking of broadening the economy, Alec tells us more about Pembroke Dock Marine, which entails turning Pembroke Port into a centre for marine renewable energy research and development and engineering. “What particularly interests us about the wave and tidal sector is the possibility of getting a cluster of businesses located in Pembroke Dock, if not headquartered there, which are employing not just the fabricators, but also the technicians and the engineers who design and maintain these installations. Our idea is to create a higher-value employment opportunity that gives anyone moving to the area to work on one of those businesses a good market for their knowledge and capabilities. We hope to have an economy that is more sustainable and self-sustaining with multiple sources of business.”

Alec also feels that the company should keep its interest in the fishing and aquaculture sector alive, acknowledging its existing strength and potential for reinforcement. “We already have a sustainable fishing industry here, and Milford Haven’s proximity to the best fishing grounds in the Bristol Channel makes this sector important to us. We have expertise in driving and maintaining the boats, as well as knowledge about fishing and growth of aquaculture products, so we think there are opportunities for the industry to achieve greater local and national significance, by growing stronger and more diverse.”

The Port of Milford Haven hopes to keep the momentum it has gathered in 2017, and carry on with its development plans during 2018. Alec shares his expectations for the next 12 months: “It’s an exciting year for us. In our 60th Anniversary year we will be launching new developments at Milford Waterfront, such as the introduction of new floatel cabins and new drive-thrus. We also hope to see a growth in the number of people bringing their boats here and using Milford Haven as a base for exploring Pembrokeshire’s fabulous coastal waters,” he concludes.

Port of Milford Haven
Responsible for 20 per cent of employment in Pembrokeshire
£3 billion of new investment over the past ten years
Advancing projects at Pembroke Port and Milford Waterfront