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Spinning blades

Betsan Powys | 10:37 UK time, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

_1755413_turbine_bbc_150.jpgRemember that scene in Working Girl?

The one where Melanie Griffith as Tess McGill succeeds in persuading a room full of sceptics that a hugely successful business idea was, in fact, hers? How she'd one day put two unconnected ideas together and come up with a stunning business plan that she hoped would save a workforce from a takeover bid and an uncertain future?

It came to mind a few weeks ago when I met a man who sounds nothing at all like Melanie Griffith I'm glad to tell you but whose excitement about a business idea was palpable. He's involved in wind energy, knows a lot about it and wanted Wales to harness it as an industry over the coming decades. Then one day, while visiting the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells, he'd been chatting to a fellow wind energy expert when he remembered a snippet he'd heard on the news bulletins about the bleak future of Anglesey Aluminium.

And bingo. The germ of an idea. A golden opportunity. Could the infrastructure on the massive former Anglesey Aluminium site not somehow be used to build wind turbines - in the sorts of numbers needed for those huge wind farms the government have been planning for the seas around the UK? Someone was going to have to build them, thousands of them. Why not us in Wales?

There were lots of men in suits to persuade it was a viable idea. It sounded great but ...

Then came the pleading and finally, a few key men in suits visited the site on Anglesey. They came away intrigued. Suddenly, the man with the plan could see two, three hundred jobs coming to the island, coming in to replace at least some of the many hundreds lost with the end of smelting operations on the site.

But there were more men in suits to be persuaded - lots more - and a company who'd have to agree to the plans to transform the site. The man with a plan was now one cog in the wheel, part of a serious bid to get this idea off the ground.

In today's Daily Post, on the day he's planning to visit North Wales and Anglesey, Secretary of State Peter Hain tells the paper of "Hain bid to turn ex-smelter into turbine factory ... Last night he declared he believed it 'could be the beginning of good times' for the area as he set out his vision for the island to become a centre of excellence for green technology".

Let's hope Mr Hain is right for the sake of everyone who lives on Ynys Mon. Boy could they do with some good news and good jobs. By the way I call it Ynys Mon because that, after all, is the name of the constituency. Labour, who hold it, are determined to hang on it to come the general election and it's not just the man I met some weeks ago who thinks the plan - not yet finalised and still at a pretty sensitive stage of negotiations - has just become election fodder.

I think he may be allowed a small smile. The latest news is that Mr Hain's flight up to North Wales has not yet arrived at Cardiff International Airport. As he knows, timing is everything.


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