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Green light for regional energy and economic development vision

Regional plans and strategies aimed at boosting economic prosperity while helping South West Wales reach its net-zero energy targets have now been given the green light.

The plans and strategies were approved by the Corporate Joint Committee for South West Wales at a meeting on Tuesday March 15.

Covering Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea, the regional economic delivery plan aims to build on a major study that’s identified regional strengths and opportunities. These include its green energy potential, strong cultural identity, stunning scenery, quality of life and well-established links between universities and industry.

Based on these strengths and opportunities, the plan includes a series of actions and interventions on how to best develop the region’s economy over the next decade. It also sets out how businesses, government, education, voluntary and community organisations, social enterprises and other partners can best work together to realise the aims of the plan.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Corporate Joint Committee for South West Wales, said: “It’s been eight years since the Swansea Bay City Region Economic Regeneration Strategy was created, and the economic and policy context has changed so much since then, especially in the wake of Brexit and the impact of the pandemic.

“This means a new plan is now needed if we’re to make the most of South West Wales’ strengths and opportunities, maximise the region’s potential and further close the productivity gap with other, more affluent parts of the UK.

“A huge amount of regeneration is already either complete, on-going or planned in South West Wales, so this plan will build on that work to create even more well-paid jobs and opportunities for local people, while attracting further investment. This will help develop a more resilient, sustainable, enterprising and balanced regional economy for the benefit of our residents and businesses.”

Also approved at the Corporate Joint Committee for South West Wales is a regional energy strategic vision, which responds to the challenges and opportunities created by climate change, carbon reduction goals and the green industrial revolution.

Including actions to help South West Wales achieve its net-zero target by 2050, the strategic vision places particular focus on a number of key areas. These include energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, distribution of heat, decarbonisation of transport, local energy generation and ownership, and smart energy.

Cllr David Simpson, Pembrokeshire Council Leader, said: “This strategic vision follows-on from so much work that’s already on-going in South West Wales to decarbonise our energy and contribute to the global fight against climate change.

“The strategy will harness our region’s low carbon energy potential, both on-shore and off-shore, to deliver a more prosperous and equitable net-zero carbon economy that better protects our environment and leaves a more sustainable region for future generations.

“It will also help quicken the pace of realising our 2050 net-zero target here in South West Wales.”

Formally constituted in January 2022, the Corporate Joint Committee for South West Wales includes the Leaders of Carmarthenshire Council, Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire Council and Swansea Council, as well as senior representatives of The Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire National Park authorities.

Introduced by the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021, it’s one of four such bodies being established in Wales.