A recent article on a House of Commons debate about a proposed floating wind farm off the Welsh coast highlighted input from Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies, Welsh Affairs Committee Chair Stephen Crabb, and Shadow Minister for Immigration Stephen Kinnock. Kinnock posited that: “the manufacturing, the supply chain, the jobs, the skills, stays [sic] in Wales”.
In response, Crabb wanted to ensure “alignment between the Crown Estate’s leasing auctions and the UK government, the Treasury’s contracts for difference process, and the commitments that developers are making.” While this list may seem quite exhaustive, it misses one key group of people: anyone who represents Wales and Welsh interests.
In but not for Wales
The Crown Estates in Wales are owned by the Crown and administered by the Westminster government. This is not the case in Scotland, where the Crown Estates administration is devolved to the Scottish Government.
The UK government is the Conservative and Unionist Party, for now. Wales has not voted majority Tory since ‘new’ Welsh towns were given the ability to vote in 1885. The Treasury is part of the UK government and, as fiscal powers are not devolved, Wales is not represented there either. Therefore, we are left with hope that the proposed private-sector developers of a wind farm, whoever they turn out to be, will represent Welsh industry and Welsh interests.
How can we ensure that Welsh people are represented and that all the required processes leading to a wind farm happen for the benefit of Wales? There are two options. Transfer the Crown Estates, energy, and all treasury responsibilities for Wales to the Welsh Government. Or, Wales could become an independent state and make decisions about its own resources itself.
Within the current arrangements, Wales is like Oliver Twist. Its pay, opportunities, and livelihood are decided by the self-righteous Mr Bumble (the Crown Estates), the hypocritical Mrs Corney (the UK government), and the neglectful Mrs Mann (the UK Treasury). If Wales is going to grow up, it needs to rid itself of the so-called ‘voluntary’ authorities within the so-called ‘equal’ union of the United Kingdom.
The final input into the wind farm debate was so left-field, it went all the way round to being far-right. Jonathan Gullis, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, piped up about the “waste of money” that is the proposed enlargement of the Senedd, and the Secretary of State agreed. Gullis quoted a figure of £100mn for the proposed Senedd increase of 36 Members, but the figure is closer to £13mn according to the Senedd Commission, who obviously know more about the matter than Mr Gullis does.
Byline Times reported that Boris Johnson’s first year as PM incurred a “waste” of over £57bn, a premiership that Gullis lauded. Liz Truss’s horrific experiment as PM cost the country £30bn, and Bloomberg estimates it wiped out £300bn of investment in her first month, a budget for which Gullis was responsible as a Minister of State. Furthermore, Brexit costs the UK £100bn per year in lost output, a project that Gullis advocates.
Westminster wind farm
On these figures alone, the waste occasioned by Gullis and his colleagues amounts to more than £600bn. By my calculations, that’s enough to expand the Senedd from 60 members to more than 1,600,000, or roughly half the population of Wales. It’s also enough to build an offshore wind farm 300 times the size of the existing Gwynt y Môr wind farm, which would be bigger than Wales itself.
My suggestion to Jonathan Gullis, and those who share his view, is that they should sit down and keep quiet on matters relating to Wales and wasted money. In the meantime, they should educate themselves on the facts, and speak to Welsh people in the communities that have been too long forgotten by successive UK governments and investors.