Neath MP Peter Hain has said today that the new Swansea University Bay Campus is ‘world class’.

After visiting the site he praised the speedy way in which the new buildings were being built.

‘They are rising phoenix like.  The Speed of construction is incredible,’ he said.

The former secretary of State for Wales was involved in negotiations to get backing from the Welsh Government when he was in office and at one point warned BP who contributed £10 million toward the campus might pull their funding because of the multi-billion cost of the company’s Gulf of Mexico disaster at Deepwater Horizon Oil rig

The new £450 million, 65 acre Science, Innovation and Engineering Campus includes an extensive College Engineering quarter and will bring an economic impact of £3billion over 10 years.

‘The new Campus is world class – probably the best in Britain and one of the best across the world.  I was enormously impressed and excited to see the pace of development with students being admitted from autumn next year,’ said Mr Hain.


Bring Back Local Bank Managers Says Hain

The banks are ‘completely failing small businesses’ and must reappoint local Branch managers again, says Neath MP Peter Hain.

Speaking to a meeting of the Swansea Bay Federation of small Businesses in the Castle hotel, Neath, Mr Hain said that official statistics showed over 40 per cent of small businesses applying for loans were turned down.  ‘Instead of supporting business to invest and create jobs like happens in Germany and other more successful economises, the banks are starving them of finance.”

Mr Hain said: “Surveys consistently show that small business owners believe access to finance is the biggest barrier to them growing their business. Labour will create the British Investment Bank, its priority will be investing to SME’s and it will be vital to helping develop a localised network of investment banks across the country.”

“Coupled with the Green Investment Bank it will help spearhead the recovery away from the South East by developing expert localised business knowledge to work with SMEs.”

The former Secretary of State suggested a number of measures which he felt would combat the disconnection he identified as occurring between centralised money lenders and the local business communities of South Wales, including having local branch managers able to lend substantial amounts of money to local businesses.

Mr Hain told the audience: This has been a problem and a dangerous game since 2010, it leaves our SMEs struggling with rising costs, yet they employ around 60% of the private sector workforce, more has to be done to not only help them survive but to grow and prosper.”

He continued by saying: “The next Labour government has a range of initiatives which will help small businesses, we will freeze energy bills until 2017, benefitting 2.5 million small businesses, saving them £1.5 billion in total.”

“We will cut small business rates in 2015, and freeze them in 2016, we need to place priority on small businesses in stark contrast to this government which is giving a corporation tax cut to the largest firms, a measure which only benefits the major urban areas.”

Mr Hain was also keen to highlight the successes of Welsh Government in helping support SMEs through better access to funding, he said: “During the past year Wales has launched the Wales SME Fund, which will give £40 million to SMEs, it is expected to create over 4,000 jobs.”


Ending The Palestine Israel Impasse: Two State Or Common State?

University of Swansea, Public Lecture 30 January 2014

‘Those to whom evil is done/ Do evil in return’, wrote WH Auden on the outbreak of the Second World War.

He could have had in mind the current, seemingly intractable Middle East conflict, the bitterness, horror, and the failure to secure both security for Israel and justice for Palestinians.

For close to seventy years the cycle of violence and hatred has ripped the region apart.  Stop-start negotiations to achieve a two-state solution – an Israel with secure borders, not living under siege from its neighbours, and alongside an independent Palestine – have led nowhere, despite the fact that a majority of both peoples (Palestinian and Israeli) continue publicly to support it.

To read all Peter’s speech click here

Lagoons No Alternative To Barrage

Western Mail

It’s real a shame that Cardiff and Bristol councils are together exploring lagoons instead of the Cardiff Weston Barrage for the Severn estuary

Lagoons in the Severn would produce only a fraction of the enormous power of the Barrage which is the only way of harnessing the full potential of the Estuary.

For example, the lagoon proposed for Swansea Bay would generate one fiftieth, less than 2 per cent, of the Barrage – and its electricity would cost twice to three times as much.

The power generated by tidal range technology, which includes lagoons and barrages, is proportional to the area enclosed times the height of the tidal range.

A lagoon has to build a relatively long perimeter wall to impound an area of water – in Swansea’s case, a 9 kilometre wall to create an area of 5 square kilometres.

The Barrage, by contrast, only needs an 18 kilometre long wall to enclose an area of 570 square kilometres: twice the length to enclose almost 100 times as much area.

Lagoons are simply not cost effective, which means that electricity from lagoons will be much more expensive.  Small projects like Swansea could easily complement the Barrage but Cardiff-Bristol are chasing an illusion if they imagine lagoons are a serious alternative.

Cardiff-Bristol suggest that lagoons take less space. But the Swansea lagoon is the size of 1,500 football pitches. That is massive.  Yet it would take 50 of them to equal the power of one Barrage. Where in the Severn – or the UK, for that matter – could we fit 50 lagoons of that size?

It is often claimed by wildlife and environmental groups that a lagoon will not have as much impact on the environment as the Barrage.   Obviously that would be the case for one lagoon – but what about 50 cluttering the estuary?  What would the impact be then?  Unless of course this cop-out option is not really about harnessing the full power of the Severn, merely a fraction of it.

The truth about lagoons, according to experts, is that we don’t know what the environmental impact will be. What will be their effects on tidal currents, waves, suspended sediment, sediment deposition, coastal morphology and water quality? We simply don’t know – particularly if we built so many of them, cluttering the estuary and affecting navigation for ports like Bristol where the Barrage locks allow easy shipping.

But we do know the environmental impact of the Barrage: this has been studied and modelled for years, and solutions to any impacts on fish and bird life have already been developed.

We need to think seriously about the future of energy in this country. Our demand for electricity is increasing every year and our supply is decreasing. According to the government, by 2025 there will be a 60 terawatt-hour gap between electricity supply and demand – that is 15 per cent of our electricity consumption.

Where will that supply come from? What is the point of investing in expensive technologies that generate miniscule amounts of electricity? Why should we spend time building a lagoon that generates one fiftieth the electricity of a barrage, with electricity that costs two to three times as much?

The barrage would generate as much electricity as three to four nuclear power stations and at around the same cost. But, in addition, it has a lifespan of at least 150 years, far longer than any other power plant – offshore wind farms last for 20 years, nuclear power stations like Hinkley for 60 years.

Do we want to keep the lights on?  Are we serious about combating climate change? If we do not make big decisions now, in few decades’ time, when parts of Somerset and South Wales are under water due to sea-level rise, the largest ships refuse to nagivate the dangerous estuary waters up to Bristol Port, and the estuary is clogged with lagoons, our children will ask why we didn’t think long term and prevent it all with the Barrage.

Lagoons will not protect against sea level rise, unlike the Barrage which will defend 500 square kilometres and 90,000 properties from flooding

At a time when our energy policy is in disarray and the costs to consumers are escalating, when our nuclear industry is in turmoil and being sold to France and China, and when the government wants to risk polluting our water table exploring for shale gas, we need big, cheap, long-term solutions – not the short-termist tokenism of lagoons in the Severn: a code for ‘do next to nothing’.

The answer is for City Councils like Cardiff and Bristol to join the Welsh Government in getting behind the Barrage – and its £25 billion of private investment (at no cost to the Treasury) generating 50,000 jobs putting Britain in the lead of bi-directional turbine technology.


Hain offers encouragement to Tata ‘Kids of Steel’ Triathlon participants

MP for Neath Peter Hain has welcomed the Tata ‘Kids of Steel’ Triathlon to Swansea and has spoken of his delight regarding the enthusiastic response shown by children taking part in the Neath area.

1200 eight to thirteen-year-olds from twenty-eight schools throughout the Neath Port Talbot, Swansea and Carmarthenshire regions have signed up to the event, which takes place at Wales’ National Pool in Swansea on 2nd July.

Organised by Tata Steel and the British Triathlon Federation, the Tata ‘Kids of Steel’ series was launched in 2007 with the aim to promote the sport among children. More than 50,000 children have been able to participate so far and this year, building on the success of the London 2012 Olympics, the series aims to see up to 10,000 youngsters from all over the UK swim, cycle and run the equivalent distance between London and the next Olympic host city, Rio de Janeirio.

Mr Hain says, ‘this is a fantastic way to introduce children to the triathlon, a fun and varied sporting event in which they can participate with their friends at school. Tata ‘Kids of Steel’ really continues the Olympic legacy by encouraging children to adopt a healthier lifestyle through sport and exercise.’