Western Gateway opportunities for Wales?

The Western Gateway region could offer real potential for Welsh construction and Cat Griffiths-Williams is working to put CEWales at the heart of the matter to find out how the Welsh built environment can benefit

In recent discussions with the Western Gateway, where Wales and England are truly working together, there are clear synergies with CEWales on creating partnerships, collaboration, innovation, driving net zero and releasing the benefits of the sector to be an economic enabler.

The area that the Western Gateway covers has a proven track record in creating clusters of strength. 55% of the World’s Compound Semiconductors (which power all modern mobile phones) are manufactured in the area.  The area contains Europe’s most advanced cyber cluster, are home to two of the UK’s financial tech clusters and have globally leading strengths in creative industries within the borders.

But there is more to be done. There’s need for more cross partnership working across the borders and investment; as well as developing a talented and diverse workforce of the future. There are many exciting developments for the sector.

Severn Edge (Bro Hafren) STEP Fusion is in the closing stages of an 18-month+ competitive process to find the home for the UK’s first prototype fusion power plant. This will test the commercial viability of fusion power in a multi £bn project which is expected to deliver more than 30,000 jobs to the area. The Western Gateways ‘Severn Edge’ nomination combines land at Oldbury and Berkeley (two decommissioned fission power plants). A decision is expected to follow the announcement of a new Prime Minister and the ensuing Party Conference in the Autumn. With that in mind there’s the need for a hum drum of support, with existing political and industry support from right across the geography recognising that a 90-minute catchment will span across South Wales and the South West.

There has also been support from the local communities with circa 450 people engaging with Western Gateway’s public engagement event in the Spring with a wealth of positivity for the investment in jobs and skills. The scheme of work is supported by Welsh Government with Vaughan Gething MS saying: “I am aware of the Western Gateway bid for the Severn estuary to be home to the UK’s first prototype fusion energy plant… We have an interest in seeing that bid be successfully achieved if at all possible within the Western Gateway region. I wish you well for the announcements and the outcomes later in the Autumn.”

If successful, this could present some really exciting skills and supply chain opportunities for you – CEWales Members. How can we pitch ourselves more effectively to be a part of this and demonstrate our need for funding?

Fusion in the Western Gateway | Western Gateway (western-gateway.co.uk)

MPs and industry from SW and Wales gather to #STEPupforSevern as decision expected | Western Gateway (western-gateway.co.uk)

There are also shared ambitions of the Western Gateway partners to champion housing innovation, particularly on the road to net zero. Releasing opportunities in modular-building, energy efficiency and the related green skills agenda. This is completely aligned to CEWales’ drive which we can help achieve industry support and delivery through collaboration.

The strategic rail and infrastructure agenda is not forgotten in this mix, as work has commenced with Transport for Wales and with the Western Gateway Sub-National Transport Body to develop a shared 2050 rail vision across the geography. This has begun with a really open discourse about all sorts of opportunities and gaps that need to be addressed, there is hope to develop some products to launch in the Autumn. This will include championing investment in stations and providing a strategic case for business cases that Western Gateway partners will lead. There is also a need to create an appetite for further private sector investment in and around stations.