A big shout out to Stroud’s MP Siobhan Baillie who really has been leading the charge to get the UK’s first prototype £220 million fusion plant located at Oldbury and Berkeley.
It is often easy to criticise our MPs for inaction but Siobhan, her fellow Gloucestershire members, and our councils have done all they can to land this Western Gateway project for us.
Last week, Siobhan, our MPs, and council leaders joined forces at the House of Commons to deliver a final plea to the Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng.
That letter stressed our Severn Edge bid to site the STEP fusion programme here at the two decommissioned nuclear sites at Oldbury and Berkeley could be delivered immediately.
It said: ”The site at Severn Edge is ready to go with an active nuclear training college that has the capacity to expand.
“It benefits from the skilled workforce and supply chain in the region which is delivering Hinkley C. There is also substantial local expertise in high-temperature reactors and technologies in
Gloucestershire and the area is home to leading digital engineering, cyber, robotics, and advanced manufacturing expertise”.
Siobhan Baillie met with Kwasi Kwarteng and told me afterwards the economic growth if our bid is successful would be huge.
“It is estimated that a successful bid would create an extra £3.5 billion of output, £1.3 billion in gross valued added (GVA) and more than 30 000 jobs in the region”, she says.
In my view, this would be a game-changer for the whole of Gloucestershire.
So, it’s also good that our key businesses like Renishaw are backing the bid.
And their communications director, Chris Pockett, was also at the House of Commons to support the Western Gateway bid.
I think Chris is so right when he told me: “With over 3000 employees across the South West and South Wales, we are excited by the opportunities that would arise from a successful Severn Edge bid, especially in relation to skills development and how it could inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists.”
We all now have everything crossed for the result of the Western Gateway bid. It could come soon.
Former newspaper editor, Ian Mean MBE is Business West’s Gloucestershire director, a board member of GFirstLEP and former vice-chair of the Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company.