- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Joyce Watson AM has welcomed a new £3.5m rescue fund for Pembrokeshire and backed Welsh Government plans to examine dualling of the A40.
Following last week’s collapse of a takeover deal for the Murco oil refinery, the Welsh Government has set up a £3.5m fund for businesses to create and protect jobs in the area.
At the Senedd on Wednesday (12 November), responding to a statement on Murco by the economy and transport minister, Mrs Watson spoke up for the county’s “strong energy sector”. She said:
“We should not lose sight of the fact that Pembrokeshire retains a strong energy sector.
“We have the LNG terminal, the Valero refinery and Pembroke B – the largest gas-fired power station in Europe.
“I would imagine the immediate priority for staff will be to discuss whether there are job opportunities at these alternative sites – because we don’t want to lose these skills in west Wales.”
The collapse of the Murco deal will lead to the loss of hundreds of well-paid local jobs. Mrs Watson stressed the importance of “open lines of communication” with employees: “The last thing they need is to feel they’re being kept in the dark,” she said.
The Labour Mid and West AM also spoke of her optimism for the future of the energy sector in the region, saying:
“I believe there is a tremendous opportunity to consolidate Pembrokeshire’s position as the UK’s energy hub by diversifying into alternative energy generation, and the training and skills that that would deliver.”
Some politicians have likened the current situation in Pembrokeshire to what happened in Newport when steel making at Llanwern finished in 2003. However, Joyce outlined the differences, pointing out that Pembrokeshire retains a strong energy sector.
She did, however, use the example of Newport’s steel industry to draw lessons for how to successfully move forward in the area. She said:
“What the success of Newport Unlimited does teach us is that regeneration on this sort of scale requires decade-long commitment.”
Mrs Watson also asked about plans for improvements on the A40 at Llandewi Velfrey. She backed Welsh Government proposals to urgently explore ways to improve the road.
Edwina Hart, the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, confirmed to Mrs Watson that:
“I have also asked my officials to conduct further, urgent work, to explore additional ways to improve the A40, including the potential for duelling. This work will be complete within 6 months.”