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Last Updated: Friday, 5 March, 2004, 14:52 GMT
Ministers pledge Airbus support
A380 Superjumbo
Wings for the A380 superjumbo are being built in Broughton
Airbus workers in Flintshire have been reassured that that an 11bn programme to build wings for the new A380 superjumbo is safe - despite potential problems transporting them to France.

UK Cabinet ministers, on separate visits to Flintshire on Friday, both indicated the government would be prepared to intervene to ensure the project goes ahead.

Concerns were raised this week about the project's future because dredging rights for the Dee Estuary - needed to transport the wings from the Port of Mostyn to Toulouse - still had not been granted, a month before the first shipment is due.

However, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott told workers at Airbus's Broughton factory that the superjumbo wings "will be going to France, make no mistake about that".

"It's fantastic for the Welsh economy, the economy of Merseyside and Britain as a whole that the wings are being built here," he said.

We all want our environment protected but there has to be a sense of proportion
Welsh Secretary Peter Hain

Airbus want to transport the wings from Mostyn to France where the new aircraft is to be assembled, but if the estuary is not dredged barges may not be able to access the port 24 hours a day.

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, who was also in north east Wales on Friday, said that while the environment was important, so was the Welsh economy.

"I'm horrified that there's a prospect of Mostyn Docks being deprived of the dredging that it needs to be a viable dock and to allow Airbus to get its wings out to Toulouse," he said.

"Airbus is the most important and biggest manufacturing centre anywhere in Europe. It's terribly important to the local economy and indeed to Wales and Britain as a whole.

Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Hain
Peter Hain wants the dredging issue resolved

"We all want our environment protected but there has to be a sense of proportion.

"The Environment Agency must realise there are wider public interests at stake here," he added.

Mr Hain said the issue has been raised at Downing Street and cabinet members were "determined to try and resolve it".

A spokeswoman for Airbus said the company welcomes the politicians support.

Ferry operator P&O confirmed on Monday it was axing services between Mostyn Docks and Dublin after less than three years, saying the dredging issue had played a part in their decision.

The Environment Agency, along with other regulators, was first asked to grant permission to dredge more than two and a half years ago.

However, they have still not indicated what their decision will be.

The Countryside Council for Wales(CCW) has made the agency aware of their concerns over the impact of dredging on wildlife.

On Friday, a CCW spokesman refused to comment on the remarks made by the visiting politicians.




SEE ALSO:
Dredging threat to Airbus deal
03 Mar 04  |  North East Wales
Mostyn ferry service axed
01 Mar 04  |  North East Wales
Mostyn dock wins P&O contract
06 Nov 01  |  Wales
Wings to go by land and sea
06 Feb 02  |  Wales


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