A £24m bid to restore the Montgomery canal for tourism and a £24m eco-training centre are among the plans for a multi-million investment drive in mid Wales.

The Growing Mid Wales Board on Tuesday gave its blessing to the business case to be submitted to the Welsh and UK Government to allow the £110 million project to be sealed.

But the board, which combines representatives of Ceredigion and Powys Councils, stressed that getting private investment would be key to turning the dreams into a reality.

The Portfolio Business Case provides a framework for the growth deal.

Three of the eight projects proposed would be in Powys, with the cost of investing in them at just over £61 million.

They include:

  • An estimated £24.2 million for the Centre of Alternative Technology in Machynlleth to create an “immersive learning experience” to produce skills for workers needed in the renewable energy, “sustainable” construction, food, land use and tourism.
  • An estimated £12.7 million for an Elan Valley Lakes project – there Dŵr Cymru would investing in facilities for leisure, sport, and nature activities, including visitor accommodation.
  • An estimated £24.4 million to restore the Montgomery Canal for tourism and leisure.

Other Mid-Wales wide projects include improving digital connectivity which would cost £3.6 million and identifying areas to provide business/industrial units.

County Times: Craig Goch Dam in the Elan Valley. Picture by Eleri Megan.Craig Goch Dam in the Elan Valley. Picture by Eleri Megan.

In Ceredigion, there are five specific projects.

These include:

  • A £30m Innovation Park led by Aberystwyth University, with 10,000 square metres office and research and development spaces space.
  • A National Spectrum Centre, led by Aberystwyth University, with an estimated investment of £17 million.
  • Food Manufacturing Innovation Centre – Led by Food Centre Wales,  which is part of Ceredigion County Council, this is a £4.4 million project to deliver a state-of-the-art food manufacturing innovation centre at Horeb, Llandysul.
  • Canolfan Tir Glas / University of Gastronomy –  Trinity St David’s University in Lampeter hopes to establish a centre for rural enterprise that will promote the local food industry, cost estimated to be £8 million.
  • Between £20 and £30 million to develop to major marina/harbour developments in Aberystwyth and Aberaeron.

Growing Mid Wales advisor, Paul Griffiths said that discussions with government officials were now starting to go towards projects.

County Times: A kayaker paddles towards the lock in Welshpool during the Montgomery Canal Triathlon on September 4, 2021. Picture by Anwen Parry/County TimesA kayaker paddles towards the lock in Welshpool during the Montgomery Canal Triathlon on September 4, 2021. Picture by Anwen Parry/County Times

Mr Griffiths said: “There’s a real keenness to see the projects now, in terms of how they are going to develop, what are they going to look like, how they are going to impact on our communities.

“I hope what’s happening here is that we’ve done all of the due diligence and the conditions to start to speed up the process over the coming months to realise these ambitions.”

Mid-Wales Growth Deal strategic manager Carwyn Jones-Evans stressed that they board was not deciding on any projects at this meeting.

Mr Jones-Evans said: “In terms of the two programmes we are considering, we have digital and land and property.

“We’ve got initial proposals they are good,  but they need further work and consideration.”

The next phase will see both governments look at the portfolio business case next month.

Mr Jones-Evans hoped that work on drafting the final deal agreement could start in mid-November, so that the document can be brought before councillors at the next board meeting on December 10 for a decision.

County Times: The Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth. Pic: CAT.The Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth. Pic: CAT.

Powys County Council leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris said: “It’s been a long journey, but you have come up with a very detailed document here, it’s very pleasing to see.”

The Welsh and UK Government believe the growth deal has an “important part” to play in the recovery phase of the economy, after Covid-19.

In October 2019 the UK Government announced a £55 million injection of funding, that was to be spread over 15 years. In March this timescale was shortened to 10 years.

The Welsh Government will match the £55million.

It is thought that the deal could see investment of between £280 million and £400million over the next 10-15 years, which could create 1,100 jobs.