- have access to sufficient land that could be developed into wind turbine manufacturing facilities;
- are suitable for the transport of large and heavy products;
- and already have heavy duty surfacing capable of bearing heavy loads in place.
There was much hope at the time that, in line with the Energy Island concept, Holyhead's now defunct Anglesey Aluminium plant, which has a deep water dock, would be a very suitable location.
cued outrage from Albert Owen, who has said this is "another example of the Tories and Liberals marginalising Wales", whereas Ieuan Wyn Jones, asserts the decision shows a "complete lack of respect" for the Welsh economy.
My personal view is that its highly unlikely that £3.5m alone will be anywhere near enough money to properly transform the Anglesey Aluminium plant and dock into one suitable for manufacturing and shipping offshore wind turbines. Accordingly it would have been far better for the government to take a more strategic view and divide the total budget between the two or three most suitable ports (no matter in which region they are located) so that the sums each location received would be sufficient enough to deliver a considerable impact.
However -- and here's a novel thought -- instead of forever whinging about supposed slights by the coalition government, why doesn't the Welsh Assembly Government step up and show us that it can take action when required? WAG has a £15bn budget; of that approximately £1.2bn is earmarked for Economic Development and Transport. As Ieuan Wyn Jones has announced that half the Economic Development budget will now be spent on as yet undefined infrastructure projects, why can't some £11.5m of this money (i.e. 9 percent) be added to the £3.5m from DECC to make a pot of £15m for developing Holyhead port? Presumably an investment of this kind could help make Holyhead the key staging area for 'Round 3' offshore wind farms in the Irish Sea -- whilst also supporting the development of a sustainable new industry in the UK's poorest area.
The Welsh Assembly has been only too happy to waste our money on expanding mostly unnecessary universal benefits (such as free prescriptions and free breakfasts for primary school children) which neither generate jobs nor possible future sustainable revenue streams for Wales. Its time for WAG to get its priorities in order, stop using the excuse that it is 'underfunded' (according to the Holtham Report, through the Barnett Formula Wales receives £112 for every £100 spend on devolved activities in England) and go out an earn the 'respect' it says it deserves.
Port of Mostyn near Holywell, with ready access to the A55, M62, M56, and M6, is already well ahead in establishing itself as the ideal servicing location for offshore wind farms in the East Irish Sea. This clearly shows that for Holyhead to compete, DECC/WAG support to modify the port will be meaningless unless it first manages to attract wind turbine manufacturers to set up production operations in the town. Just before the election there were a number of front page stories in the Daily Post about how the then Welsh Secretary, Peter Hain, was in talks with a unnamed company to set up just such a wind turbine factory on the Anglesey Aluminium site. Hain even described it as "the beginning of good times" for Anglesey -- though predictably, as sure as today's front pages become tomorrow fish'n'chips wrappers, we never heard anything about the whole thing ever again.
I think that the 'Energy Island' concept is a good one, and, in theory, Anglesey is ideally located to take advantage of a trend towards lower carbon energy sources, be they nuclear or renewable marine technologies. But as I have written previously:
"For the Energy Island concept to be a full success Anglesey must become an originator of energy technology -- not just a destination for off-island companies to place various schemes. Accordingly the council must work to incubate Anglesey-based energy start-ups. The only way to do this would be to work with local research centres, such as Bangor University, to develop some kind of Energy Science Park located somewhere on the Island. I would further suggest that using the "Shell Fund" to provide "seed money" for such start ups would be a far more productive use of the money then purely funnelling the majority of it into Oriel Môn each year."