Defence Secretary: Welsh Government blocking military investment
Gavin Williamson said the UK Government wanted to increase the number of service personnel in South Wales
The Welsh Government is preventing investment into the military in Wales by snubbing talks with Westminster, the UK’s Defence Secretary has claimed.
Gavin Williamson said the UK Government wanted to develop new barracks at MOD St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan, but accused ministers in Wales of “resisting” talks.
Mr Williamson was speaking at St Athan on Friday where he met with representatives of the Welsh-based RAF and army along with Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns to discuss the future of the base.
Speaking of his proposal for new barracks at the site, he said: “We want to see more service personnel based here in Wales and we’re looking at how we can explore options.
“Sadly all the options we keep putting forward to see more army personnel based here – bringing wealth, bringing prosperity, and bringing opportunity – is something the Welsh Government are resisting and not properly engaging with us about.
“We’ve put forward a set of proposals about having a new barracks here on this site making sure that in future more service personnel can be based here.
“This will have an enormous impact on the local economy, guaranteeing jobs, guaranteeing prosperity, but sadly at the moment the Welsh Government is refusing to look at the options that we really need them to look at to make that investment happen.”
A spokesman for the Welsh Government said it welcomed investment into the military in Wales, but pointed out a £14bn defence training academy at St Athan which promised to create 2,000 jobs was scrapped back in 2010 after the UK Government announced cuts in its defence budget.
The spokesman said: “Our interests in St Athan result from the Defence Training Academy, a legacy defence project which was costly for Wales and which the MOD subsequently cancelled before completion.
“We have promoted the area as a business park, the result of which brought Aston Martin to Wales on the understanding we would maintain our commitment to developing it.
“We welcome the UK Government’s investment into the military in Wales. We have hundreds of acres available to the MOD, including around 50 acres within and adjacent to West Camp, which would accommodate the new influx of personnel while not compromising the business park.
“We look forward to working closely with the UK Government and the MoD to find a mutually beneficial solution.”