Wales misses out on £355m Jaguar Land Rover plant

The Welsh Government said it was "disappointing" to lose out to the west Midlands on 750 new jobs and a new Jaguar Land Rover engine plant.

The firm, which also considered India, said a £355m factory in Wolverhampton would be close to its other plants.

Ministers said they were hopeful Welsh firms could still supply components.

Tim Williams, chief executive of the Welsh Automotive Forum, said Wolverhampton's designation as an enterprise zone may have been a factor.

The UK government's announcement in July that it was creating enterprise zones in several English regions prompted calls for the Welsh Government to follow suit or risk losing jobs over the border.

The enterprise zones offer companies tax breaks, simplified planning, and super-fast broadband.

Jaguar Land Rover already has plants in the West Midlands at Solihull and Castle Bromwich, near Birmingham.

A company spokesman said a central location offered the "most efficient business solution" as well as access to a skilled workforce and supply chain.

Speaking to BBC Wales, Mr Williams said he knew the Welsh Government had worked hard to bring the plant to Wales but added that it was still a "good win for the UK".

He said a plant in the West Midlands could offer opportunities to component suppliers in Wales if they could meet demand.

"Jaguar Land Rover since it was taken over by Tata has had huge investment going into the plants in the Midlands," he said.

"This is having an impact on the current suppliers in Wales who are now seeing an upturn in their production requirement.

"This is putting pressure on them to ramp up their production and I think we need to be working very closely with our government here because there will be a requirement for capital investment for new plant.

"We also need to look at the skills issue... with increased production we need more people," he added.

"We're coming through a recession but when you start losing your skilled people it's surprising how quickly they find other work."

The Ford plant in Bridgend currently supplies Jaguar Land Rover with engines but Mr Williams said he did not expect the West Midlands development to have any detrimental impact as it would be supplying new models.

Professor David Bailey, a motor industry expert at Coventry University Business School, said he expected the company would continue to source engines from Ford in Bridgend but needed to meet its own growing demand.

"Jaguar Land Rover is increasing output so quickly they need more engines in the future especially as they export more vehicles." he added.

"So I think it'll be a win-win situation both for the West Midlands and also south Wales."

Image caption The location is close to existing plants at Castle Bromwich and Solihull

Conservative MP for the Vale of Glamorgan Alun Cairns said he spoke to Jaguar in June and was told that Wales was "no longer an option".

Mr Cairns said he was worried the decision could be the first of many and that Wales would miss out on other big projects in the future.

Plaid Cymru economy spokesman Alun Ffred Jones said Business Minister Edwina Hart had failed to "seal the deal" with Jaguar and that the Welsh Government had to "look carefully at what went wrong".

"It is important that these lessons are learned for the future," he said.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said it was "obviously disappointing" that the investment had not come to Wales.

"The Welsh Government worked extensively with the company to try to bring them to Wales but ultimately this was a commercial decision by Jaguar Land Rover, which has its UK headquarters and a strong existing presence in the west Midlands.

"We are not aware of the full details of the financial package offered by the UK government but we are hopeful that this will still be a good opportunity for Welsh manufacturers to supply components and parts to Jaguar Land Rover."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites