Call for Welsh floating windfarm supply chain to be ‘as local as possible’
January 18, 2023 - By David Lynch, PA Parliamentary Reporter
The UK Government will make sure building materials for a proposed floating offshore windfarm off the coast of South West Wales will be “as local as possible”.
Welsh Secretary David TC Davies told the Commons he had made the case to the Crown Estate, which is responsible for the planned windfarm in the Celtic Sea, after Labour told him that building new turbines outside of Wales would be “absolutely unconscionable”.
Tory chairman of the Welsh affairs committee, Stephen Crabb, meanwhile, urged ministers to award freeport status to Milford Haven, as it would work with “real projects, real industry” to deliver floating offshore wind.
After mentioning jobs at risk in the Welsh steel industry, shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens told the Commons: “Steel workers need a government on their side and the industry needs a partner that can provide stability and not sticking plasters.
“Floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea is a real opportunity for our steel industry and the wider supply chain in Wales, and it would also help mitigate the impact of the cost-of-living crisis for many Welsh businesses in that supply chain.
“If the Government doesn’t provide the necessary stability, we are going to see those platforms built in France and Spain and floated over to the Welsh coast which would be absolutely unconscionable.
“What is he doing to ensure that the Crown Estate leases will use local supply chains in Wales?”
Welsh Secretary Mr Davies replied that he had “met with Crown Estates on a number of occasions to discuss the next bidding round for the sites which are out there in the Celtic Sea”.
He added: “I have been trying to ensure that the supply chain is as local as possible.
“That is why we have supported the conversations between developers and the Crown Estate, and also why I personally visited Pembrokeshire to ensure that the growth deal there supports the new infrastructure, the dock which can allow those projects to be floated out to sea.”
Welsh affairs committee chairman Mr Crabb said: “One of the lessons of industrial policy over the last 30 years in Wales, certainly when you look at the number of failed food parks, science parks, technology parks, is that using taxpayers money on its own does not create economic activity out of thin air.”
The Preseli Pembrokeshire MP added: “Does the minister agree with me that whatever interventions we make, or Welsh Government make, has to work with the grain of the private sector?
“To that end does he recognise that the overriding strength of the Celtic freeport bid is that it does work with real projects, real industry to deliver floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea?”
Wales Office minister Dr James Davies replied: “He will know that there are decisions ongoing in terms of freeport awarding, with at least one due in Wales and an announcement to be made shortly.”
Elsewhere in the debate, Labour MP for the Rhondda Sir Chris Bryant claimed the Government had “completely binned its investment zone policy”.
He added: “Isn’t this just further evidence that we don’t have a government in this country anymore, we have just got a bunch of rapscallions squatting in ministerial offices?”
Tory MP Jonathan Gullis meanwhile criticised the Welsh Labour-run Government, claiming that “Wales gets £1.20 per head for public services for every £1 in England. Yet the Welsh Labour-run government spends less than this on their public services”.
He added: “Does the minister agree with me that ruinous Welsh Labour Government should stop wasting the money on things like the Senedd expansion and instead spend money where it is needed, tackling the backlogs in hospitals and stopping the decline of education in Wales?”
The Welsh Secretary replied: “There is money being wasted in the Senedd on, for example, up to £100 million increasing the number of Senedd members at a time of economic difficulty, and I hope that the Members chuntering on the other side of the House are listening carefully to what he has to say.”