Positive response to Rhun’s questions on potential of cruise industry in Holyhead

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth this week received an assurance from the Welsh Government’s Economy Minister that they are investigating the potential funding opportunities to deliver cruise berth improvements at Holyhead.

This comes following the disappointment when one cruise ship was turned away from Holyhead recently, after which Rhun raised the possibility of a more permanent dock for cruise ships with the Government.

During a discussion on ports in the Senedd yesterday, Rhun also asked the Minister about improvements to the link between the A55 and Holyhead port.

Speaking in the National Assembly for Wales yesterday, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said:

“We agree on the significance of our national ports, and agree that we need our ports be a force for growing the Welsh economy.

“On potential European investment, I welcome the fact that there is a link between TEN-T – the European programme of investment in transport infrastructure – opportunities and the possibilities for the port of Holyhead. I wonder if I can use this opportunity to ask for an update on the work you have committed to do to link the A55 with Holyhead port, which is a very important project in the area.

“There is considerable excitement about the possibilities of the cruise industry in Wales. But questions have been asked in Holyhead recently following the occasion when one ship in particular was turned away.  May I ask whether the Minister has had the answers she was hoping to have in terms of what happened on that occasion, and whether she had been convinced that the future of the industry in Holyhead is safe as it is?  Secondly-and it is a question that I asked the Prime Minister in recent weeks-is she willing to commit to the possibility of developing a permanent site for cruise ships in Holyhead, and possibly towards feasibility work on that?”

In her response, the Minister for Economy and Transport Edwina Hart AM said:

“I think we’ll deal with the very positive point first in terms of a permanent cruise facility at Holyhead. The officials are investigating the potential funding opportunities to deliver cruise berth improvements at Holyhead. We are currently preparing a cruise development strategy for Wales, and this will include recommendations for any future cruise berth and port developments. Officials recently met with Stena, who provide marine charts for the port, which did actually identify a possible cruise berth development, which I think is quite important, and initial feasibility studies would be needed to identify dredging costs in any potential design proposals. So, we’ll continue having those discussions in Holyhead.

“The north Wales economic ambition board has also prioritised a project to develop a visitor welcome in Holyhead for the cruise, and this will be part of a suite of measures that we will be investigating, and which I will be more than happy to report back on. I think the Member, like myself, was very concerned that the Celebrity call was cancelled. Apparently, I am advised that Anglesey Aluminium approached their insurers due to the weather conditions a few days prior, and they would not insure the call. There are other issues, I have to say, with Anglesey Aluminium. Of course, we are all aware that Anglesey Aluminium lease the jetty till 2024, and it’s owned by Stena. Of course, Anglesey Aluminium ceased their operations there, and are hoping to enter into a deal with another company, but this has not yet happened. Of course, this is really affecting some of the issues that we can deal with in terms of the cruise. So, I’m much more attracted now to look at some of the issues about a cruise berth.

“Can I also say as well that it’s important to recognise that the Holyhead development is actually part, strategically, of what we’re doing with the A55? I’d be happy, once I’ve published the national transport plan and various other things, to give more details to Members about how we intend to proceed with all those issues, which will, of course, benefit Holyhead.

“Can I assure you that, in terms of ports, I do see them as a lifeline for Wales? I do see them as a development opportunity, and I do think that, once we have devolution of them, we will be looking at a clear strategy.”