Plaid Wrecsam’s view on the North Wales Growth Bid
Wrexham Council is part of the North Wales Growth Bid, along with other councils, universities and colleges. If it happens, it will see funding amounting to £334 million from both UK and Welsh Governments for various infrastructure projects over the next decade or so.
Nobody in north Wales is going to turn down millions of pounds worth of investment, especially when it’s needed for digital infrastructure for example. However there are concerned about the thrust of the growth, which is over-reliant on one scheme – namely Wylfa Newydd.
To be clear, Wylfa sits outside of this Bid. However the concern is that nuclear power is the golden thread that is intertwined throughout the Bid, with other projects bolted on to take advantage of the opportunity. Some of those projects are already happening and therefore are not reliant on the Bid itself.
The Proposition Document lists 16 projects totalling £334m. The nuclear linked Trawsfynydd, Holyhead port and Bangor University schemes account for £200m of that.
So even though Wylfa officially sits outside of this Bid, much of this Bid would not be there if it were not for Wylfa. And, as Wylfa is a colossal £15bn project dependent on a Japanese multinational and a very favourable strike price, if it doesn’t happen then there is a very real risk that this Bid will fail. If Wylfa goes ahead, why can’t these other projects could not be funded through Horizon.
Of the £3.1 billion headline figure for private and public investment, £2 billion is earmarked for the Trawsfynydd Small Modular Reactor project. A further £637m is for housing developments.
So although these are large sums, we must remember these are spread over 10-15 years and over six counties.
A North Wales Growth Bid and an over-arching regional vision is desperately needed. We need a grand vision for the region and we need better funding from both UK and Welsh Governments – so this is a welcomed development but the emphasis on nuclear-related projects suggests that too many economic eggs are being placed in one very expensive nuclear basket.