Letter from Wales: Welsh government blows €130m investment in north Wales

by Julian Ruck

For a classic example of the Welsh government’s blazing incompetence and reluctance to consider any true private investment (but to be fair, there is no authentic private sector in Wales) that doesn’t involve their profligate dishing out of tax-payers’ money at will to duff so-called commercial enterprises, please consider some correspondence (below) that was recently sent to me by Jeremy Oakley, a businessman.

Mr Oakley’s abridged  letter to first minister Carwyn Jones, on 16.5.13 is as follows –  please note, no response was forthcoming from Mr Jones, neither was there a response from his deputy Rhodri Price, who had put his deputy, one James Price onto it as a matter of urgency.

“It is with deep regret that I must inform you of my decision to pull investment we had planned for north Wales, specifically for the Trawsfynydd power station site.

Over the last 2 years, we have created a green energy project that was specifically designed for Trawsfynydd.

The project was to create 100 full time long term jobs by using new technology to create Bioethanol from the local natural resources of grass, bracken and soft rush.

The annual return to the region would have been c€20m plus the income derived from full time mixed ability jobs created in a high unemployment area.

The capital expenditure for the project would have been 130m EUR of which c60% would have been a local spend.”

That’s right €130m of investment in Wales in exactly the type of green energy project we desperately need, lost without even an explanation. But Wales’ loss is other countries’ gain. Mr. Oakley continues,

“Given the lack of encouragement and support from within the various Welsh authorities, I have taken the project to three EU countries, one of which is prepared to attract the project because of the positive social impact it will make in the region and is prepared to support it with a series of financial incentives still within member states support allowances.

The second country were able to respond within 24 hours of my initial visit and have instantly come back with a series of measures, incentives and land supply and the third has initially offered land, a site and support on the strength of a phone call and without a visit as yet!”

Mr Oakley has been in talks and meetings with a legion number of Welsh establishment figures from MP’s (Elfyn Llwyd MP, Glyn Davies MP was written to, no reply), Leaders of county councils (Dyfed Edwards, Gwynedd CC),  to welsh Labour administration officials of all shapes and sizes eg Dafyd Elis-Thomas AM, Sioned Williams, Gwyneth county council head of economic regeneration and where Edwina Hart Minister for economy science and technology was concerned, she was too busy to communicate direct so her bureaucratic minions were instructed to act on her behalf. The welsh Committee at Westminster has also been too busy to respond in any meaningful way.

Frankly, the rest of the list is far too long to be included here.

Mr Oakley writes to me personally, saying:

“I have had 100% funding pledged twice for the project in Wales. Once from Private Equity and more recently as part of a larger fundraising programme to fund a series of these projects in Europe. The project required no subsidy from the Welsh Assembly Government. I needed their moral support to please the funders, I needed them to work with the Snowdonia National Park planners in helping to regenerate the site and help us with the design of the plant so it fitted in to the surroundings and I needed them to upgrade the railway line, which they plan to do anyway, to limit the amount of road traffic through the National Park.’

Carwyn Jones’ office promised a reply by 14th June and merely mentioned the fact that I must feel ‘frustrated’ not to have got very far with the project. They were supposed to be looking at the problem with some urgency but after 4 weeks nobody has contacted me.

I wrote to the Welsh Committee in Westminster and had a very subdued reply from their admin person who said he would pass the comments on to the MP’s on the committee and had I tried speaking to the AM’s!!

It is incredible!!”

The loss to Wales is not just this project but the confidence and commitment of entrepreneurs like Jeremy Oakley. He goes on,

“I see that the business minister and inward investment agency are off on another jolly to Japan – presumably to attract another giant subsidy seeking short term company.

Perhaps they should look on their own doorstep!

Given the enthusiasm from other countries… I need waste no more time in Wales.”

I do not feel I  need to add anything here, except to say that it is no wonder that Wales is the lowest performing economy in Europe and I hear that Carwyn has just put in an order for 20 two-seater bi-planes as part of his commercial development plan for Cardiff airport.

Finally, there is a salutary lesson in the above for welsh Labour and its institutions – you cannot gag private individuals who refuse to travel on the welsh Labour gravy train express.

Julian Ruck is the author of the Ragged Cliffs Trilogy and legal thriller The Bent Brief. He is  a Freedom of Information campaigner, columnist and makes contributions to both Welsh and national broadcasting and media.

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54 Responses to “Letter from Wales: Welsh government blows €130m investment in north Wales”

  1. stevemosby says:

    Julian –

    “A suit of defamation is only worthwhile if the defendant has means and assets to cover both costs and damages.”

    Like many people, I have a container in which to keep my small change. (Mine is a large, plastic replica of a Coca-Cola bottle, and I keep it upstairs in the spare room, next to a small filing cabinet that was, rather rudely, left by the previous owner). The slot is too thin, and, from time to time, coins roll off the top, and some end up down the side of the cabinet. I have just scraped the area out, and amidst the fluff and old bus tickets, I have retrieved a small but pleasing total of £1.63. This has been placed in a small plastic bag, which is now safely stored in the top drawer of the cabinet.

    If you did bring a defamation suit against me for calling you a plagiarist, I would likely defend it on the grounds that it’s blatantly true, and that you have admitted it yourself. This would likely be the cost of an email, albeit one with copious screenshots attached, although I imagine that’s much the same cost as an email on its own.

    If by some bizarre miracle you did win the case, you can hopefully now rest assured that not only do I have the money to pay for any damage to your reputation, but enough to buy it outright.

    (Labour Uncut editors – as per your correspondence, I’ve done my best to make sure all my comments here have been on topic. You need to have a good long word with your columnist).

  2. Andy Millen says:

    This is a highly damaging accusation with far reaching implications for the Welsh Assembly . Given the very nature of the allegations, It should be full of cited evidence checkable facts and other such means of substantiation, and instead of posting it here, it should be brought to the wider audience via a more mainstream media outlet (such a Channel 4, or a major newspaper) after full and proper investigation. That fact that a nonentity such as Mr Ruck publishes it on here without the any discernible attempt at substantiation implies that it is, in fact, unable to stand up to such scrutiny, rather like Mr Ruck himself.

  3. Ed Parke says:

    This is brilliant ‘Ruck’, a classic trope: the blowhard who cannot resist making something up, his delusion driving him on and feeding his ambitions. Pelted with eggs wherver be goes, but where does he go from here?

  4. Tafia says:

    The Welsh Assembly is crap because it is dominated by a Labour Party that pouts the UK before Wales and looks to London for leadership. In short it is run by Westminster Quislings and second rate low grade talentless party aparatchiks like that clown Carwyn Jones. The day he sticks two fingers up to London Labour and does what is best for Wales all the time over everything I’ll eat my hat. Until then I won’t even bother buying one. The man is a circus act.

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