Kirsty Williams AM has welcomed the progress made towards a new rail testing centre on the border of Brecon and Radnorshire, stressing the need to ensure the potential benefits for local communities are realised.
It is estimated that the facility would employ around 400 people in the construction phase and upwards of 150 people in permanent roles. Kirsty has also pointed to possible benefits in the education and hospitality sectors, as well as the opportunity to improve residential broadband as part of the process of connecting the facility.
Kirsty has outlined these issues in a letter to the Welsh Government Minister with responsibility for taking the project forward.
The ‘Global Centre of Rail Excellence in Wales’ is a planned £100million rail testing complex which could be built between Nant Helen and Onllwyn. The Welsh Government, Powys County Council and Neath Port Talbot Council has agreed a Joint Venture Agreement to help take forward its development, and plans are being developed alongside the rail industry.
Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for Brecon and Radnorshire, said:
“While there’s still a lot of work to be done to make the test centre a reality, the project is one that could bring real benefits to communities in the Upper Swansea valley, and their interests must be taken into account.
“Of course this means engaging with people to ensure any disruption is avoided and minimised, upholding commitments to consult with communities.
“It also means ensuring the potential benefits for local communities are fully realised. The facility could be a valuable source of hundreds of new jobs on our doorstep, as well as bringing opportunities in education, research and development, and benefits for local businesses in the hospitality industry.
“It would also need the highest quality broadband to undertake its work, and the infrastructure needed to connect the facility could represent an opportunity to improve residential broadband. This is in areas where poor connection has often been a source immense frustration.
“The potential benefits may be a long way off, but at this early stage I want to help ensure the interests of the local communities I represent are taken into account throughout the process.”
On Tuesday 21st May the Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport gave a statement providing an update on the project. It can be found here: http://record.assembly.wales/Plenary/5806#A51255
Kirsty’s letter to the Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/y49fvs2g