Tory AM Slates 'Deserted' Technology Park ... 19 Months after Its Launch

Article excerpt

Byline: By Martin Shipton Western Mail

A multi-million-pound technology park developed by the Assembly Government, remains largely unoccupied more than 18 months after it was launched, claim the Welsh Conservatives.

Lisa Francis, the AM for Mid and West Wales, described the state of the pounds 34m ParcAberporth as "shocking".

Since its launch in September 2005, the Assembly Government has hailed the development, next to a former RAF base, as a major centre of excellence for the aerospace industry.

In addition to the original building costs, it has pledged an extra pounds 3m of funding to support the investment until 2009.

However, Ms Francis said that on a visit to the park she found that all three of the high-specification buildings were unoccupied and the grounds of the technology centre were "obviously uncared for".

She said, "The visible emptiness of the site is a clear testimony to the Welsh Labour Government's failure to make this development work. It may have initially attracted two major international companies, but 18 months later, there is no sign of their presence. One can only presume that the Assembly Government now picks up the ongoing rental cost of this land.

"ParcAberporth was meant to spearhead Wales' input into the prestigious development of UAVs, or unmanned aerial vehicles.

"Apparently, however, the vehicles currently benefiting from this site primarily belong to the numerous learner drivers who take advantage of its deserted roads.

"The Assembly Government was adamant that ParcAberporth would create over 230 jobs by 2008, with a capacity for up to 1,000 employees. As was rightly said, you could not exaggerate the importance of this investment for the whole of Ceredigion. Today, you could not exaggerate the blinding failure of this development, the questionable waste of the Objective One funding it used and the level of disappointment this has caused the local workforce."

An Assembly Government spokesman said, "The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle industry is a new industry with a wide range of opportunities and new applications constantly emerging. These include, for example, the use of UAVs for law enforcement, disaster/emergency monitoring and relief geological survey. …