Extract from speech at Cardiff Metropolitan University on 21 March by Peter Hain
A strong rallying call to Wales to ‘stand up and fight’ for the Severn Barrage has come from former Welsh Secretary of State and Neath MP Peter Hain.
After mixed signals from the Government and vehement opposition lobbying by Bristol Port, Port, Mr Hain said: ‘We are entering a key period of decision making and if significant forces in Wales don’t stand up and fight for the Barrage we could lose a once in a lifetime opportunity: the biggest ever investment in jobs and prosperity Wales has seen.’
With the Parliamentary Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change due to report in the coming weeks and the UK Government under pressure to state where it stands, Mr Hain issued his rallying cry in a speech at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
‘Everywhere I go in Wales people ask me – “how is it going with the Barrage”! There is a real Welsh buzz about it. But if Wales want the Barrage, it isn’t going to happen on its own. The Welsh Government and the Assembly have given the Barrage in principle support. So has the Wales TUC and Wales business representatives. That’s all very welcome. But now is the time to stand up and fight for the for the Barrage. Every AM, every MP, every County Council, every Welsh political party, every business group, every trade union or civic organisation in South Wales now needs actively to press the Prime Minister to back the Barrage.’
‘That support can be subject to satisfying the necessary environmental and habit requirements, of course. But in principle backing is needed now, or the project could drift away and 50,000 jobs and £25 billion of private investment will simply go elsewhere in the world,’ Mr Hain warned.
‘The prize is enormous. The biggest renewable, clean, green energy project in Europe, if not globally, harnessing the awesome natural tide of the Severn. Skilled local jobs by the thousand. A new marine turbine manufacturing factory, with new technology capable of being exported worldwide. Flood protection for thousands of homes and properties. And over its lifetime the cheapest electricity in Britain, half to three quarters as cheap as gas, nuclear or wind power.’