Robert Lloyd Griffiths
Never has a new year been so eagerly awaited as we begin 2021 hoping that better times aren’t too far away.
Yes, we are still battling the virus that has changed our lives forever more and there are some pretty major challenges ahead but the start of the new year really does bring hope. The last-minute deal with the EU, the roll-out of the new vaccines and the prospect of a return to some kind of normality give us all a reason to be positive.
Indeed, the power of positive thinking is arguably more important than ever. Being positive changes everything; it makes us happier, more resilient and it improves performance. Research proves that it also makes us healthier.
So, with Parliament having backed the post-Brexit deal between the UK and EU that was finally agreed on Christmas Eve, we can now be positive about the new business and security relationship that we have with the EU. There will be no taxes on goods or limits on the amount that can be traded between the UK and the EU. Yes, there will be new checks at borders and there are still lots of new procedures that businesses need to adopt but the good news is that having a deal in places means that we’ve now got certainty and that’s what matters most to business.
Meanwhile, the production of up to 100 million Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for use in the UK has now begun. The fantastic news that the UK medicines regulator authorised the vaccine means that the production line at the CP Pharmaceuticals factory in Wrexham is up and running. It was described as a “salvation for humanity” by Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he visited the site back in November and I’m sure we all hope that it will allow the return to some kind of normality this year.
We’ve also had the good news that a new Green Recovery Delivery Partnership has been launched in Wales. This positive announcement follows the work of Welsh Government’s green recovery task and finish group. Chaired by the Chair of Natural Resources Wales Sir David Henshaw, the group was established at the direction of the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in July 2020.
The task and finish group was charged with developing big ideas that could be taken forward in the short and medium term as part of Wales’ recovery from the pandemic – ideas that link the circular economy and the climate and nature emergencies with job creation and inclusive and fair economic growth.
The Green Recovery Delivery Partnership will now work with a cross-section of society including community groups, social enterprises, charities, public bodies, private companies and environmental groups across Wales to help support and implement projects that will aid our economic recovery.
And it is economic recovery that must be our priority in 2021. A green bounce back makes sense for our environment and our economy. Indeed, I welcome the news that the planning decision on Wylfa Newydd has been delayed to allow for talks with investors to continue. I understand that Horizon has been working hard behind the scenes to revive the much needed Anglesey nuclear project while it is also looking positive for the £35 million Morlais renewable energy scheme off the coast of Anglesey with work expected to start this year.
Work is also progressing on development of Awel y Môr. Led by RWE Renewables, this project sits to the west of Gwynt y Môr and, if approved, is tipped to create hundreds of jobs. Another boost for the economy will be the £590 million tidal lagoon being developed by Mostyn SeaPower Limited. The 6.7 kilometre long lagoon, stretching from the breakwater at Mostyn to Point of Ayr in Flintshire, would create 300 jobs in the construction phase and up to 30 high-skilled permanent posts.
With the right support, these projects all have the potential to play an important role in helping Wales to recover from the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 crisis. From North to South and East to West, we’ve got the opportunity to harness the power of our natural assets in 2021 and create a positive and sustainable future for all.
On that positive note, I wish you, your family and your colleagues a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.