A new “Made in Rural Wales” economic plan which places a focus on skills and emerging technology has the potential to transform the economy of rural Pembrokeshire according to Eluned Morgan.
Speaking at the launch of Rural Wales: Time to Meet the Challenge 2025, the Labour AM for Mid and West Wales, made the case to revitalise the rural economy through a series of measures overseen by an independent rural commissioner with a sharp focus on delivery.
Crafted through the involvement of local communities, business and members of a specially created rural economic forum, the plan highlights six areas which have the potential to future-proof the rural economy, building on infrastructure and skills; adding value to food, farming and forestry and using the foundational economy to ensure local jobs are provided for local people, providing employment opportunities for young people.
Chaired by Eluned Morgan, membership of the economic forum includes William McNamara, Chief Executive of Bluestone; Stan Mcilvenny, Chair of the Milford Haven Enterprise Zone; Huw Thomas, Managing Director, Puffin Produce and Stephen Thornton, Public Affairs Manager, Valero Pembroke Refinery.
Eluned Morgan AM said: “This is a ‘Made in rural Wales’ plan created out of the frustrations and aspirations of our rural communities. At its heart is an emphasis on a more co-ordinated approach to economic development that will build on plans by the Swansea Bay City deal.
“Brexit and continued UK Government austerity are both catalysts for action. Now is the right time to think differently about rural Wales. We propose it is the private sector, backed by the ambition of local councils and Welsh Government, which drives prosperity as we seek to address the spectrum of challenges affecting Pembrokeshire.”
Nine potential pilot projects have been put forward that meet current challenges and herald new growth for the future sustainability of the rural economy, including eco housing, expanding food production and using technology to open rural Wales to new business opportunities.
Eluned Morgan continued: “There are some great ideas in the plan to help us hit the ground running. Wales, as a producer of finest quality lamb, should be the world capital of making great quality Shepherd’s Pie. Processing raw product and adding value is a fantastic way to ensure a domestic market for a wide range of home grown produce – it has to be a priority as we leave the EU.
“Quality tourism has the potential to drive the economy all year round – building on our unique culture and heritage. We must be even more ambitious than we already are, better marketing our all of our gorgeous coastal locations to the world as one destination and improve the skills in the hospitality sector by creating a Tourism Training Centre of Excellence.
“I hope Welsh Government will hear the voice of rural Wales in this plan. An approach to UK Government for a rural deal, based closely on city deals elsewhere, will ensure no part of Wales is left behind and offers the chance for unlocked potential to be released over a vast part of Wales.”
A copy of Rural Wales: Time to Meet the Challenge 2025, produced by Eluned Morgan AM has been attached to this email.