SHADOW Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs Simon Thomas gave a keynote speech at Plaid Cymru annual conference in Caernarfon.
He outlined a positive vision of a more sustainable Wales, creating green jobs and clean energy to rebuild the Welsh economy in the face of Brexit.
Party of Wales Mid and West AM Simon Thomas said: “Next year we get the powers in the Assembly to ban fracking. Next week, I will be leading a legislative debate in the Assembly to do just that. Fracking is the old way of doing things. It’s time to throw out the solutions of the past.
“What point is there is destroying the precious wetland environment of the Gwent levels for a three lane motorway when the roadbuilding lobby are already demanding more lanes before it’s even built.
“Scrap the new M4 and put the money into a real metro system for south Wales. Build a new railway between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen. Use hydrogen cell technology, developed here in Wales, to power our buses, coaches and trains.
“Make Wales the nation it can be. The most environmentally sustainable, exciting place to live. Give our young people the opportunity to stay here by sharing the future with them, not harking back to the past.
“We have the raw materials for a genuinely sustainable future. Wind, solar and tides. Where my forefathers dug for coal in the Tower colliery, there is a now one of the biggest windfarms in Europe: Pen y Cymoedd – creating green jobs and clean energy.
“What is holding us back is entrenched attitudes, interest groups and Labour and Tory politicians who are scared stiff of unleashing Wales’s potential. Why? Well because our potential fulfilled means no more London, no more UK, it means an independent Wales showing its new green face to the world. Leading the way not begging for crumbs from London’s table.”
During the conference speech Simon Thomas gave his backing to the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project. The Mid and West AM commented: “A Wales in control of its own resources would have long ago given the go ahead to the tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay. What an exciting, transformational, nation-building proposal.
“Within a generation our electricity could easily come from wind, solar and sun. No need for any fossil fuels or a nuclear industry corrupted by nuclear weapons.
There are companies standing ready to employ hundreds in Wales to help build and exploit this technology. It is the future.
“It seems the Tories want to kill off the tidal lagoon. No action, no decision, despite an independent report saying clearly to go ahead. Excuse after excuse.
If they fail this project it will be the biggest betrayal of our natural resources since Tryweryn.”
On infrastructure he added: “You can drive by electric car from Cardiff to Orkney, but not from Cardiff to Bangor. There is a huge gap in mid Wales for charging infrastructure. Some of the charging points we have would be comparable to filling a petrol car with a thimble.
So I am delighted Plaid Cymru secured £2M for electric car charging in this budget. I want to see mid and rural Wales prioritised for this development. Otherwise once again the UK government and the market will abandon us, as we have experienced with broadband rollout and provision.
This can be a new start for Plaid Cymru. A new firmness of purpose. We are a united Assembly group working now on the basis of achievements gained so far.
But though you have to build on foundations we need to recognise we no longer need Labour. It is a party that has an honourable past in serving the working people of Wales. But no longer. Its lacklustre performance in government is clear to everyone. A more fundamental problem is its lack of ambition for our nation.
Yes the Tories pulled the plug on rail electrification to Swansea, but it was Labour that opposed the devolution of Network Rail. A party that preaches the abolition of tuition fees but wanted to put them up for Welsh students should go back to class. A party that believes a super prison is economic development for a deprived community should do time itself: in opposition.”
Mr Thomas concluded: “Our future is making Wales’s future, with a real vision of a green, clean, sustainable nation. Where we control our water and energy. Where we build our nation institution by institution. Where our young people are rewarded for studying and staying and working in our country. Where we build houses for the next generation which are cheap to heat and power themselves.
“It’s an independent nation that leads the world on what we do best: speaking sustainability with the strongest Welsh accent.”