Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport
Launching the UK nuclear sector deal in North Wales today is significant step forward for the sector and builds upon the momentum generated by the recent announcement on financing the proposed Wylfa Newydd project. As a government, we recognise the nuclear sector’s huge potential for delivering economic growth and delivering against our central aim of tackling regional inequalities and delivering prosperity for all.
The sector’s potential is recognised by our partners from local authorities, universities, regional skills partnerships, the north Wales Economic Ambition Board and crucially the critical mass of innovative, forward looking and capable nuclear supply chain companies we are proud to have in Wales.
Welsh Government has led the way over many years in supporting the nuclear sector. We have invested considerably in the sector across many areas. We have supported the development of competitive and capable Welsh supply chains through programmes like Fit for Nuclear and facilitating the formation of the highly dynamic and successful Wales Nuclear Forum, the sector’s industry voice within Wales. We’ve targeted the need to develop local skills especially in a North West Wales context and are proud to have been able to support capital investments at Coleg Menai and back the innovative Cwmni Prentis Menai - shared apprenticeship programme over many years.
We recognise the genuine potential to build a centre of excellence of nuclear skills and capacity in north Wales and this is why we’ve led the charge in targeting RD&I for Ynys Mon, within the concept of the North West Nuclear Arc. A Bangor University led consortium is currently undertaking a Nuclear Science and Innovation Audit that will hopefully aid decision making on investments within the North West Nuclear Arc following the announcement of the Nuclear Sector Deal. Our approach, in keeping with the Economic Action Plan, is very much founded on collaboration and co-design where we actively seek to work closely with industry and our partners, to directly influence developments at the UK scale.
Testament to the effectiveness of our approach is the fact that the UK nuclear sector deal is being launched today in Trawsfynydd. The fact that future nuclear opportunities are recognised at the UK and international scale is a direct result of the foresight we demonstrated in designating the Snowdonian Enterprise Zone back in 2012. The zone has shown how Welsh Government working alongside business, local authorities and partners is helping to lay firm foundations for growing a vibrant sector that can directly benefit local people and help sustain vibrant communities.
This successful collaborative model of working should not be restricted to the nuclear sector alone. We have very ambitious renewable energy and decarbonisation objectives and are founding our whole economic development approach on the need and opportunity to maximise the economic benefits to Wales from the transition to low carbon. As members will be very aware, following the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon announcement this week, my statement stressed that we must work closely with the UK Government in pursuit of our renewable energy and low carbon ambitions. UK Government energy priorities should back Welsh ambitions, not just English interests, particularly because of the significant and unique sustainable energy resources in Wales.
This Sector Deal recognises the long established and future position of North Wales and Wales within the UK’s nuclear industry. The deal sets out a compelling case for key investments and action required to underpin the sector’s competitiveness and growth potential.
Looking ahead, we now require more detail from UK Government on the timeframe and mechanisms for delivering the pledges announced today. This detail will ensure that we can collectively exploit the huge potential North Wales offers in delivering a Nuclear Sector Deal for the benefit of the whole of the UK.
We stand ready and willing to work with the UK Government on the delivery of this hugely exciting and important nuclear agenda.
I will keep members appraised as this moves forwards.