Senedd Bites #49: Wylfa Wobbles?

(Title Image: New Civil Engineer)

Report: Hitachi considering pulling out of Wylfa B nuclear project

A report by a Japanese television station, Asahi, suggested Hitachi is considering withdrawing from the estimated £16billion Wylfa B nuclear power station project on Anglesey. The report resulted in a share price boost for the company after the chair of the company’s board said Hitachi faced an “extremely severe situation”.

The UK Government have offered to take a stake in the project, but an agreement will need to be reached by the middle of 2019 to ensure the power station actually gets built.

Wales remains bottom of UK economic league table

Latest ONS figures showed Gross Value Added (GVA) – the measure of economic productivity – in Wales rose to £19,889 per head in 2017 (+2.7%), but this remained the lowest per-head rate of the UK’s 12 nations and regions. GVA for Wales as a whole rose to just under £62.2billion.

However, Anglesey was no longer bottom of all of the UK’s sub-regions having overtaken a number of rural parts of Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, Anglesey and the Gwent Valleys remained in the bottom 10.

Cardiff & Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham & Flintshire topped the tables within Wales, with GVA-per-head exceeding £25,000 in both.

See also: State of Wales – The Welsh Economy

Welsh Government confirms North Wales Growth Deal funding

The Welsh Government has announced it will provide £120million towards the North Wales Growth Deal, bringing the total Welsh & UK government commitment to £240million.

It’s hoped the deal will create 5,500 jobs and attract up to £670million of investment. However, the total amount committed so far falls far short of the desired £335.5million originally envisaged.

Economy & Infrastructure Secretary, Ken Skates (Lab, Clwyd South) said, “We believe we need to keep pressing the UK government to provide what the ambition board had been expecting and should its contribution increase, we will match it.”

A ban on shooting Greenland white-fronted geese set for 2019

Environment Minister, Hannah Blythyn (Lab, Delyn) has announced that a ban on the shooting of the Greenland geese will come into force, despite objections from hunting groups and the Countryside Alliance.

The full ban will ensure Wales meets its obligations under an international bird conservation agreement, but the Countryside Alliance argued a ban would have no effect on the population of the geese.

Committee warns of “disastrous impact” on Welsh food and drinks without single market access

The Senedd’s External Affairs Committee concluded (pdf) that if the Welsh food and drink industry lost access to the EU single market it would have a crippling effect, with significant proportions of Welsh produce exported.

Committee Chair, David Rees AM (Lab, Aberavon) said, “The food and drink sector in Wales is vitally important to our economy, both in terms of the income generated and the jobs supported by the sector. We are very concerned about the potential implications for Wales of a loss of market access for our food and drink producers, particularly farmers in the red meat industry, who are dependent on exports to the EU for a significant chunk of their export income.”

The Committee recommended the Welsh Government prepares a post-Brexit food and drink strategy, outlines what discussions it’s had on creating a UK-wide name protection scheme and outline what work was being done behind the scenes to protect the sector from a “No Deal” Brexit.