26/02/2016

Aston Martin at St Athan – huge bribes plus end of aerospace fantasy

Aston Martin at St Athan – huge bribes plus end of aerospace fantasy - LOOK BACK at Welsh Gov and St Athan 
The Welsh Government devotion to aerospace - a large part military aerospace - has always been suspect on sustainable development and low-carbon pretensions. Its failure in business terms has taken far too long for them to admit.
The Welsh Government designated the St Athan Aerospace Business Park for aerospace activity ever since it took over the airfield site from the MOD and initiated the Red Dragon project from ~2000, under which the £100M “superhangar” was constructed. When Red Dragon collapsed, they promoted it as a “centre of aerospace excellence”, resurfacing the 1,800 metre runway and maintaining full airfield support (at ~£10million p.a.).

The Metrix scam for privatised tri-military training was then seized by the Welsh Government. Assembly leaders fell for it - remember the notorious picture of four Party leaders raising linked hands and squirting champaign, Ieuan Wyn Jones included. Only local resistance and fringe groups led by Cynefin y Werin (plus the PCS Union) held it up till the privatisation concept fell apart in 2011 under its costs and contradictions (http://antimetrix.blogspot.co.uk/). Figures like £43M and £100M lost and the DARA jobs (VC10 maintenance and refit) dwindled to zero with no replacement work found.
In 2013, the WG designated the Cardiff Airport and St Athan Enterprise Zone “focusing on the aerospace and defence sector”. Despite WG subsidies and a promotional team, they’ve had limited success in attracting Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) business to replace the VC10 refits - the costly airfield facilities remain hardly used. Cardiff Aviation, set up in 2012 to take over the VC-refit hangar (‘Twin Peaks’ hangar), is growing its business, but is tiny in the aircraft business. Avalon Aviation in light aircraft complained 2 years ago at the WG’s limited help and runway times (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-26692669)
The Aston Martin deal admits failure over the aerospace fantasy. They are giving Aston Martin the £100M superhangar and the enterprise zone subsidies (rate relief; exemption from S106 planning requirements, investment grants for initial years) as well as promising road ‘improvements’ (but not access to rail, the Vale of Glamorgan line promoted as part of the Cardiff Region ‘metro’). Aston Martin will take 90 acres, including some of the facilities currently in use at the site by the Ministry of Defence and specifically three main hangars. Construction work is planned to commence in 2017, with full vehicle production commencing in 2020.
The Wales Air Forum maintains an up-to-date website on St Athan developments (http://www.walesairforum.co.uk/st-athan) and comments:
“It is a shame that the super hangar cannot to be used for the purpose that it was built to maintain repair and overhaul aircraft and compliment the services currently available at St Athan and Cardiff Airport. Currently it is used as a storage facility for retired RAF C-130 Hercules and some military training”.
Aston Martin says Wales offered the best deal of 20 locations for their new factory. The WG refuses to say what bribes it offered, but writing off aerospace while giving over the aerospace ‘Enterprise Zone’ advantages are prominent. They will presumably write off the major runway and superhangar. They will negate their claims to sustainable development, for a luxury car-maker with an uncertain future.


Aston Martin plans to cut almost 300 jobs as the lossmaking British carmaker seeks to address its historically perilous financial position.
The Warwickshire-based maker of the DB10 sports car — which features in the upcoming James Bond film Spectre — said on Thursday that a restructuring programme would affect as many as 295 of its 2,100 staff.

12/12/2013

We don't want a military academy in Wales

Wales 'let down' as defence academy once planned for Wales is to be built in Wiltshire


Critics say the proposed defence academy project at RAF Lyneham is highly similar to the axed scheme intended for St Athan
The scheme to privatise military training planned for st Athan was flawed, a school for mercenaries, which as co coordinator of that successful campaign I am very happy to see it buried.
Yet Labour’s Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith said: “The cancellation of the defence academy at St Athan was a bitter blow..." 

02/09/2011

DRONES PEACE CAMP – Support from Cymru to England


CYNEFIN Y WERIN
The all Wales activist network on peace, justice, human rights and environment
PRESS RELEASE
September 2 2011
DRONES PEACE CAMP – Support from Cymru to England
Cynefin y Werin, the all Wales activist network on peace, justice, human rights and environment, is supporting the creation of a new peace camp being established tomorrow, 3 September, by campaigners in Lincolnshire, England.
RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire is the new base for pilots of the RAF’s Reaper drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Drone technology enables people who are many thousands of miles away to operate UAVs, which can be used for surveillance and spying or include bombs in their payload. British drones have been active in warfare in Afghanistan and the Pakistan border regions, and there is evidence that drones have been used in the Libya conflict too.
Cynefin y Werin is concerned about the growing connections between Wales and this form of remote killing. There have been significant investments of taxpayers’ money in drone technology developments at Aberporth in recent years. Since July 28th this year, a 500 square mile airspace over Wales is being used to test the MoD ‘Watchkeeper’ drones flown between Aberporth (Ceredigion) and Mynydd Epynt (Carmarthenshire and Powys).
It has recently been revealed that Llanbedr military airfield, near Harlech in Snowdonia may also be used for testing such vehicles. There are also close links between the ‘special forces’ unit housed at MOD St Athan and electronic warfare in Afghanistan.
Stephen Thomas, a spokesman for Cynefin y Werin, said: 
‘The increasing militarisation of Wales – in arms manufacture and trade, low level flying, development of new military technologies, military training in our countryside and in the provision of young people to train in the British military forces is of great concern to those who had hoped to live in a Wales which would contribute to a truly just and sustainable future.’
‘The Welsh Government should inform the public how far the 'special forces' based in St Athan are engaged in this remote 'drone' technology, which is such a worrying development in modern warfare’.
ENDS 
Contact: 
Stephen Thomas: 02920 6666 45 
Jill Gough: 01239 85 11 88

27/07/2011

End of St Athan nonsense


Minister announces MoD to learn nothing from DTR and to press towards single site for DTT

The story from PCS ...26 July 2011
The collapse of the Defence Training Review (DTR) was welcome news following the election of the ConDem government, although our union was concerned about what other harebrained schemes might be dreamt up in the corridors of power.
The MoD, in somewhat of a panic, asked the Defence Colleges to come up with, what our union can only categorise as, crisis solutions and back of the envelope calculations for future training. This led to a large number of potential configurations of solutions - which the MoD refused to share with the trade unions. This refusal was despite a number of requests - indeed the MoD itself seemed unable to definitively advise the unions of how many potential solutions there were, with AC Gammage advising there were twenty one

23/01/2011

Batty Ieuan Wyn Jones

One year after the £5million St Athan Public Inquiry, the groups critical of the plans are demanding Ieuan Wyn Jones - the Minister responsible for the development – lift his block on the compulsory purchase (CPO) decision. WAG went to the Inquiry for Compulsory Purchase of land costing £5 million, said to be ‘necessary in the public interest’ for the combined schemes. Once the MoD decided they would not proceed with the Metrix scheme in the October Defence Review, their case had disappeared. There is now no case for green-field development and the damaging northern access road across peaceful meadows around the Llanmaes brook, argue the Council with Green Party and FOE support.

And TWO new purpose-built homes for bats have cost the taxpayer £128,000, the Echo reveals.
'The Ministry of Defence (MoD) was today accused of extravagance and “new levels of absurdity” as the cost of the two wooden buildings at RAF St Athan emerged.The bat houses were part of the £20.3m enabling works carried out in anticipation of RAF St Athan becoming a defence training academy.
Plans for the £14bn development were scrapped by the Conservative-LibDem coalition in October as part of its cost-cutting efforts.'  MoD is criticised over bat houses by Madeleine Brindley, South Wales Echo










17/01/2011

St Athan Aerospace Business Park a 'dog's breakfast ...

The Aerospace Business Park a 'dog's breakfast ...14 Jan 2011 ... Mr Ieuan Wyn Jones told Mr Davies that the government remained committed to the business park, which was a phased development over the next ...
‘£43 million spent, but not one job created’... We have said this time and time again and so did the auditor some years ago..but they never learn..
Other expenditure by WAG includes the Camargue PR firm engaged to run the ‘public consultation’ and £12.5M (+contingency) for advance works*,which MoD would refund if they don’t proceed.

*Cabinet update, Jan. 2010
Failed Red Dragon project
Because of the Red Dragon fiasco, the auditor told WAG not to commit spending relating to another MoD project, without guaranteed refund if the MoD pulled out. Yet Officials spent at least £5 million in this case on consultants, publicity and the Public Inquiry (QC and witness costs), based on the flimsy claim that the aerospace development was complimentary to the Training College.
we are still waiting  - more than a year later for the Inquiry results.

11/01/2011

One Year On – Call to stop blocking St Athan decision!

One year after the St Athan Public Inquiry, the groups critical of the plans are stepping up pressure on Ieuan Wyn Jones - the Minister responsible for the development – to lift his block on the compulsory purchase (CPO) decision. Robin Gwyndaf of Cymdeithas y Cymod has written seeking a deputation to the Minister on the matter (letter attached).

Chris Franks AM raised it* early in January on behalf of Llanmaes Community Council, when Mr Jones told him they were waiting for the MoD to decide the future of the base and its training facility. Previously the civil servants claimed to Barry & Vale FoE that they required more time because of “complexity” (letter of 17 Nov.) and “complex ramifications” (17 Dec. below).

Opposition groups within the Cynefin y Werin network say the situation is simple – WAG went to the Inquiry for Compulsory Purchase of land said to be ‘necessary in the public interest’ for the combined schemes. Once the MoD decided they would not proceed with the Metrix scheme in the October Defence Review, their case had disappeared. There is now no case for green-field development and the damaging northern access road across peaceful meadows around the Llanmaes brook, argue the Council with Friends of the Earth's support.

* Glamorgan Gem, p.4, 6 January 2011 “Aerospace Business Park still long-term aim of the Assembly”.
** http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/st_athan_defence_technical_colle html

The £5 million went to consultants, publicity and the Public Inquiry (QC and witness costs), authorised on the claim that the aerospace development was complimentary to the Training College. Because of the Red Dragon fiasco, the auditor had told the Welsh Assembly government not to commit spending relating to another MoD project, without guaranteed refund if the MoD pulled out. Yet Ieuan Wyn Jones's department has now lost further millions in the same way.
## http://www.antimetrix.org/2010/12/we-gave-evidence-at-jan-2010-st-athan.htm

The reply to A Freedom of Information Request  – Reference 4606 - for the inspectors report...
from a Mr James Price Head of the Infrastructure Group Department for the Economy & Transport ..
'I refer to my letter of 17 November concerning your request for information regarding the Inspector’s Report on the St Athan CPO. I regret to have to inform you that I am not yet in a position to reply to this request by the specified date of 15 December. The matter is still under consideration and therefore I am unable to let you know at this time one way or the other if the

As Chris Franks reports (Gem 6 January) the size and shape of the aerospace business park would have to change, so any alternative scheme requiring CPOs would need another Inquiry. There is no legal reason for holding up the Inspector's report (completed in March 2010) for the Minister's convenience or embarrassment over the loss of over £5 million**, say Cynefin y Werin (Stephen Thomas). The hold-up appears to be abuse of the separation between planning decision-making and policy decisions##.
 
 Inspector’s Report is to be released immediately. As explained previously, there are complex ramifications resulting from the MoD decision of 19 October which we are trying to understand in addressing your request for early publication of the Report. I recognise that this continuing delay may not accord with the provisions of Environmental Information Regulations 2004. I offer my apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.