The Welsh Government has been accused of “moving the goalposts” during their handling of the Circuit of Wales project.

Criticism was levelled by several AMs during a Senedd hearing into the initial funding of the proposed £430 million scheme in Ebbw Vale.

Support was withdrawn last June after the Heads of the project was deemed “too risky” to both government and public funds. It was also said that proposals “failed” to meet conditions set by the Welsh Government, which had been asked to provide a £210m guarantee.

UKIP Wales leader and AM Neil Hamilton questioned the decision to reject HOVDC despite the firm believing it had “fulfilled its requirements”.

He said: “I can’t see what, in terms of viability as a commercial investment, had changed to give you the idea that this was now riskier than it was before? The goalposts had been changing every time the company comes to you and actually fulfils the obligation you put upon it, then you say you want more.”

Permanent secretary Shan Morgan, one of three senior civil servants quizzed at the meeting on Monday, told Mr Hamilton that their decision came from due diligence.

“The assessment was also made that the benefits that were claimed for the project, and the number of jobs created by the circuit element, were uncertain at best,” she added.

After the Circuit of Wales refusal, the Welsh Government pledged £100m to the Tech Valleys scheme, a new automotive technology park which they say could generate 1,500 jobs in the Ebbw Vale area by 2027.

Plaid Cymru AM Adam Price asked: “Has this been subject to the same rigorous, robust assessment as the Circuit of Wales?”

Ms Morgan said that the Circuit of Wales had showed the “majority of jobs” would be created through the technology park, rather than the circuit itself.

The permanent secretary went on to say that the Circuit of Wales project had been a “learning process” for the Welsh Government.

Categories: NewsBlog Post