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Go-ahead for billion pound deal welcomed

Jamie Adams

The Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council has acclaimed today's Swansea Bay City Region announcement as a once in a lifetime opportunity for the economy of South West Wales.

Councillor Jamie Adams said the investment was "a massive step-change" for the local authority areas of Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot and would lay the platform for the creation of thousands of new jobs.

Councillor Adams was among the local authority Leaders who earlier today signed the Swansea Bay City Region agreement on behalf of the Council along with Prime Minister Theresa May and First Minister Carwyn Jones.

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Pembrokeshire is involved in three key schemes for which the Chancellor has given the go-ahead in his budget announcement.

One is exclusive to Pembrokeshire.

Spearheaded by the Port of Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock Marine is a £76 million project to establish a marine energy centre around the Milford Haven waterway.

The other two schemes - which will be rolled out across the whole region - involves improving broadband and mobile continuity and creating a new industry based around innovative and sustainable energy generation.

Councillor Adams said: "Wednesday's announcement is the culmination of several years hard work by the Leaders, Chief Executives and officers not only from the region's local authorities but also those from universities, health boards and the private sector.

"This has involved high-level discussions and consensus across different councils and organisations as well as embracing various and diverse political groups.

"We have all been working towards a common purpose and to ensure that the resulting bid was not only acceptable to both the Welsh and UK governments but that both governments demonstrate their commitment to the deal - and they have done.

"Indeed the £241 million contribution from central government has been a key component in accessing other funding, particularly from the private sector, which otherwise would not have been easily available. 

"As well as providing new jobs, I believe the massive amount of investment which has been approved will help us to retain our young people when they leave school.

"For many years now Pembrokeshire has suffered because once they finish their education, our children have to move out of the county in search of work."

Councillor Adams said the Pembroke Dock Marine scheme would create a world class centre for marine energy development, fabrication, testing and deployment in the town's naval dockyard.

He went on: "The Port of Milford Haven has partnered with Marine Energy Wales, ORE Catapult and Wave Hub and is working alongside Swansea University and Pembrokeshire College

"Together they are poised to drive innovation and herald the commercialisation of wave and tidal stream technology in Wales.

"It will make a vital contribution to the Welsh economy; increasing productivity, export potential and skilled employment opportunities for today and for future generations."

He said the two other projects, which will also directly benefit Pembrokeshire, were equally exciting.

"One of the advantages of the £55 million Internet Coast - Digital Infrastructure scheme is that it will improve mobile phone coverage and broadband continuity in the region" Councillor Adams explained.

"This will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the daily lives of many of our residents living in the rural areas of Pembrokeshire.

"It will also provide a tremendous boost for businesses in this part of the world. The aim is to deliver what is called a ‘hyper-connectivity' agenda whereby people and machines are all communicating with one another and able to exchange information, even in the most rural parts of the county.

"The target is to achieve 100 per cent coverage over the region and provide access to the next generation of broadband services."

A third project, titled Delivering Homes as Power Stations, aims to reduce fuel poverty and its impact on health by allowing homes and buildings to generate, store and release their own energy.

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ID: 34727 Revised: 21/3/2017