back to archiveProposed Trawsfynydd Enterprise Zone
Snowdonia National Park contains the most inspiring and exciting landscape in Wales. The attraction this provides for 6 million visitors a year brings an estimated £60 million annually to Wales, and there is the potential to increase that amount considerably. At the moment, however, that is not sufficient to prevent Meirionnydd, which includes the greater part of the National Park, having the lowest average earnings in the UK. There is also the prospect of a major loss of employment and income when the first phase of decommissioning Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station is completed in 2016.
Cymdeithas Eryri Snowdonia Society therefore welcomes the interest the government is now taking in measures to increase economic activity in Meirionnydd, in particular by examining the possibility of designating the Trawsfynydd site as a local enterprise zone. If this makes available enhanced capital allowances and relief from business rates it could, in combination with the site’s inherent advantages, give a considerable boost to the local economy. We welcome the emphasis that has been placed on attracting firms in the digital, data, renewable energy and low carbon industries. We also welcome the suggestion that the disused railway line from Blaenau Ffestiniog should be reopened, not only as facilitating industrial development but as a significant step towards creating a sustainable transport system in Snowdonia.
One exciting initiative has already been taken by setting up the Snowdonia Data Park website. It is clear from this, and from other publicity already given to the proposed enterprise zone, that one of the major attractions for companies considering setting up operations at Trawsfynydd will be its location in the Snowdonia National Park. It will be vital, therefore, that future development of the site proceeds in a way which does not damage the special qualities that have led to designation of the area as a National Park or threaten its continued international recognition as a protected landscape, or threaten the tourism which is the area’s major industry.
The proposal put to the Welsh Government in December by Gwynedd County Council on behalf of the Trawsfynydd Transition Oversight Board did not incorporate a Local Development Order or equivalent to remove planning controls at the site. It acknowledged the important role of the local planning authority (the Snowdonia National Park Authority), and proposed a flexible and appropriate procedure in the form of preparation of a planning brief. Cymdeithas Eryri Snowdonia Society has recently sought confirmation from the Welsh Government that it supports that approach and recognises how important it will be, in view of the particular sensitivity of this site, that there should be public consultation about the contents of the planning brief.
Image copyright John Aldersey-Williams