South West Wales

£100m Pembroke cash could be 'at risk' without quick decision

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Media captionValero calls for quick decision on £100m Pembroke plan

Plans for a £100m investment in a Pembrokeshire refinery could be at risk unless they are dealt with quickly, the company behind them said.

Valero submitted plans for a Pembroke power generation unit last year, and employs 1,200 people locally,

However, it said it is vital "it is a swift process", describing it as "a development of national significance".

The Welsh Government agreed but said that the planning process worked the same for everyone.

Texas-based Valero bought Pembroke refinery in 2011 in a £447m deal.

It announced the £100m development to create a combined heat and power generation unit last November, saying this would secure future jobs and maintain the viability of the plant.

While plans are still at an early stage and a decision will not be made until next year, the company's Stephen Thornton said the company would re-evaluate if the process is not quick.

"The onus is on the Welsh Government to ensure we reach our schedule," he said.

"This is a development of national significance."

Image caption The Murco refinery at Milford Haven shut in 2014

Concerns about the competitiveness of the area have also been raised by the Port of Milford Haven - which is the UK's third biggest and its largest energy port.

Chief executive Alec Don warned that they are competing in a global market, citing the closure of Murco Oil Refinery that shut in 2014, with 400 job losses.

"That refinery plant is being dismantled, and being sold to Pakistan, where it will be exported and rebuilt to continue refining in another country that's half-way around the globe," he said.

"So that's the challenge we had as a country, it's not a little local affair, it's a global market place and we've got to be competitive.

"So unless we're mindful of the competitive position, we're going to continue losing these businesses."

Mr Don also believes the Welsh Government has "a very strong part to play".

While ports are not devolved, it has control over areas like the economy, planning and the environment.

Minister Lesley Griffiths, who is the cabinet secretary responsible for planning issues, said she agreed that Valero's application needed to be dealt with swiftly.

"That's why we've brought forward the Planning Act in 2014. I am now implementing various parts of that," she said.

"But it is really important that this is a speed that works for them. However, planning is for everyone, it's there for the development and use of our land."

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