Councillors have given the go-ahead for a new rail testing centre to be built at the head of the Dulais and Swansea valleys in South Wales.
Known as the Global Centre of Rail Excellence, the train, rail infrastructure and technology testing facility will be located on the site of Nant Helen opencast mine in Onllwyn, currently operated by Celtic Energy.
The centre has been designed to attract UK and international train manufacturers, network operators, the wider industry, supply chain and academia to research, test and develop innovative sustainable new technology.
It is also hoped it will bring in further new opportunities, including more quality jobs and investment to the surrounding area.
The Welsh Government developed the idea, engaging with experts from across the global rail industry to get to this phase. The Welsh Government’s confidence is such that it is investing £50 million to support the delivery of the new facility. The UK Government has also pledged to invest £30 million in the project.
Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and Powys County Council have now given the project the final go-ahead.
Vaughan Gething, economy minister, said: “I’m delighted the new Global Centre of Rail Excellence in Onllwyn has been granted planning permission by councillors at Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and Powys County Council.
“The new centre will help create the next generation of high-quality jobs, attracting new investment and opportunities for local people, driving new technologies and innovation, and helping us to realise our ambition of creating a stronger and more prosperous economy, in a greener, cleaner and stronger Wales.
“The Welsh Government’s commitment to developing this world-class facility is clear. We’ve have made £50m available to bring this important facility to the Dulais and Swansea valleys, as part of wider plans to transform valley communities.
“I’m very much looking forward to seeing the project progressing at pace over the coming months.”