Aston Martin at St Athan – huge bribes plus end of aerospace fantasy

Aston Martin at St Athan – huge bribes plus end of aerospace fantasy - LOOK BACK at Welsh Gov and St Athan 
The Welsh Government devotion to aerospace - a large part military aerospace - has always been suspect on sustainable development and low-carbon pretensions. Its failure in business terms has taken far too long for them to admit.
The Welsh Government designated the St Athan Aerospace Business Park for aerospace activity ever since it took over the airfield site from the MOD and initiated the Red Dragon project from ~2000, under which the £100M “superhangar” was constructed. When Red Dragon collapsed, they promoted it as a “centre of aerospace excellence”, resurfacing the 1,800 metre runway and maintaining full airfield support (at ~£10million p.a.).

The Metrix scam for privatised tri-military training was then seized by the Welsh Government. Assembly leaders fell for it - remember the notorious picture of four Party leaders raising linked hands and squirting champaign, Ieuan Wyn Jones included. Only local resistance and fringe groups led by Cynefin y Werin (plus the PCS Union) held it up till the privatisation concept fell apart in 2011 under its costs and contradictions (http://antimetrix.blogspot.co.uk/). Figures like £43M and £100M lost and the DARA jobs (VC10 maintenance and refit) dwindled to zero with no replacement work found.
In 2013, the WG designated the Cardiff Airport and St Athan Enterprise Zone “focusing on the aerospace and defence sector”. Despite WG subsidies and a promotional team, they’ve had limited success in attracting Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) business to replace the VC10 refits - the costly airfield facilities remain hardly used. Cardiff Aviation, set up in 2012 to take over the VC-refit hangar (‘Twin Peaks’ hangar), is growing its business, but is tiny in the aircraft business. Avalon Aviation in light aircraft complained 2 years ago at the WG’s limited help and runway times (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-26692669)
The Aston Martin deal admits failure over the aerospace fantasy. They are giving Aston Martin the £100M superhangar and the enterprise zone subsidies (rate relief; exemption from S106 planning requirements, investment grants for initial years) as well as promising road ‘improvements’ (but not access to rail, the Vale of Glamorgan line promoted as part of the Cardiff Region ‘metro’). Aston Martin will take 90 acres, including some of the facilities currently in use at the site by the Ministry of Defence and specifically three main hangars. Construction work is planned to commence in 2017, with full vehicle production commencing in 2020.
The Wales Air Forum maintains an up-to-date website on St Athan developments (http://www.walesairforum.co.uk/st-athan) and comments:
“It is a shame that the super hangar cannot to be used for the purpose that it was built to maintain repair and overhaul aircraft and compliment the services currently available at St Athan and Cardiff Airport. Currently it is used as a storage facility for retired RAF C-130 Hercules and some military training”.
Aston Martin says Wales offered the best deal of 20 locations for their new factory. The WG refuses to say what bribes it offered, but writing off aerospace while giving over the aerospace ‘Enterprise Zone’ advantages are prominent. They will presumably write off the major runway and superhangar. They will negate their claims to sustainable development, for a luxury car-maker with an uncertain future.

Aston Martin plans to cut almost 300 jobs as the lossmaking British carmaker seeks to address its historically perilous financial position.
The Warwickshire-based maker of the DB10 sports car — which features in the upcoming James Bond film Spectre — said on Thursday that a restructuring programme would affect as many as 295 of its 2,100 staff.

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