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Wednesday, April 7, 1999 Published at 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK

Business: The Company File

New power for Wales

Developers says the new station will be 'environmentally friendly'

A large gas-fired power station for South Wales has been given the official go-ahead.

The government decision will revive hopes of creating thousands of jobs at an energy park development on a 1,500-acre site next to the M4 at Baglan.

The power station would be at the heart of the park, providing heat and power for local companies as well as contributing electricity to the NationalGrid in the event of a system failure.

[ image: The government hopes the prospect of cheap gas will lure firm to the area]
The government hopes the prospect of cheap gas will lure firm to the area
Welsh Secretary Alun Michael confirmed that Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers will not use his powers to oppose the proposed 300m project at Baglan Bay, near Port Talbot.

The announcement effectively means that he will not object under the Government's energy policy to the application.

Leslie Hitchin reports: Naked electioneering in dash for gas
A moratorium had been placed on new stations as part of measures to curb the "dash for gas" - the steady replacement of coal-fired power generators with gas-fired ones.

But, as Mr Michael pointed out, the benefits to employment and economic regeneration in the region are now considered to outweigh the objections: "It is because this 300m power station will provide a unique economic regeneration opportunity in an area of depravation."

Jobs magnet

Planners believe the 500 mega watt power station could eventually attract as many as 10,000 jobs, as more and more companies are lured to the industrial park with the promise of cheap electricity.

Mr Michael added: "This new plant would give Wales a global showcase for sustainable development. It is an excellent development for jobs, for the local economy and Wales."

[ image: Alun Michael: Unique economic regeneration]
Alun Michael: Unique economic regeneration
GE Power Systems, a part of General Electric, in partnership with BP Amoco, the Welsh Development Agency and Neath Port Talbot Council are involved in the plans to develop the site.

The next step is a formal application for permission to be submitted within a fortnight, when planning and environmental issues will be considered.

It is expected that the design and construction of the power station will be completed within two years.

David Rowe-Beddoe, chairman of the Welsh Development Agency, said if given the go-ahead the plant would also create 500 construction jobs.

He added: "It is a world number one for Wales. This development will mark a significant entry of leading edge technology for the region - one of the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly of its kind."

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