Prospect gives evidence to Welsh Parliament Committee on green economy

18 June 2024

Prospect Assistant Secretary Jane Lancastle gave evidence to the Welsh Parliament’s Economy, Trade, and Rural Affairs Committee during an evidence session on the green economy in June.

Jane Lancastle giving evidence to the to the Welsh Parliament’s Economy, Trade, and Rural Affairs Committee

In a wide-ranging discussion, Jane Lancastle and Nisreen Mansour, of TUC Cymru, gave evidence to the Committee, which was chaired by Paul Davies MS, on areas such investment priorities, Just Transition and skills.

In her opening remarks, when asked about what the Welsh Government’s investment priorities should be to support the green economy, Jane made reference to headline-grabbing initiatives such as Morlais, Menter Môn’s tidal stream energy project, but argued that more long-term and strategic thinking was still required.

“What I think the priority is, and should be, is to identify a Wales transition strategy and what represents a green economy for Wales; the focus on a strategy to give confidence for the business community to invest in the long term,” she said.

“The geopolitical issues that we see make business cautious at this time. I think we do need to prioritise strategic leadership and decision making about how we will achieve net zero, rather than a market-led model. Once we have that — the retraining, research and development, infrastructure — decisions become easier and clearer.”

Jane also called for a public energy generation company to invest directly in renewable projects, and directly prioritising the newer, or riskier, technologies that are currently struggling to attract private investment.

She said that we needed, “clear roadmaps for deployment of each technology; and a review of low-carbon investment incentives can help unlock private capital alongside this.”

Jane also added:

“Too little has been done to ensure clean energies are accessible to a diverse workforce. Industry data shows that one in five offshore wind workers are women, and fewer than one in 10 are people of colour.”

Just Transition

Later in the session, when asked specifically about Just Transition, Jane remarked:

“The Welsh Government cannot leave communities behind. We saw this in an unjust transition from the coal industry, and we can see, in areas like Ebbw Vale, they are still left behind, generations following. So, we have got to learn from the past and think about the future. We know too well the effects this has had.

“Communication, I think, and engagement are the cornerstone. We need to consult and listen to these communities and not try and attempt to have any sort of one-size-fits-all. We talk about going from Port Talbot to Llanwern to others in north Wales, and each community will be different. Llanwern and Port Talbot would have, probably, better access to the M4 and transport links. So, we need to be a bit more joined up, a 360-degree approach to how we help those transition and bring in those opportunities.

“I cannot state strongly enough the urgency to have a plan that lays out the investment in skills and infrastructure for employment opportunities. Communities and industry need to know that jobs can be protected, and what new jobs will be created.”

Prospect’s green energy jobs report

Committee member, Cefin Campbell MS, made reference to a report that Prospect published last year on delivering good green energy jobs, and asked how the Welsh Government could contribute to the report’s goals?

Jane replied: “What we’ve already talked about is social partnership and having that engagement, and knowing what good work looks like, and there being a required standard… I think you have a central role to play in shaping the quantity and quality of those roles.

“For several years, Prospect, and I know other unions, have been raising concerns about health and safety, pay, staffing levels and other issues, and that goes across the emerging clean energy industries as well.

“But in the paper you’ve referenced, we’ve looked, in those recommendations, to address those challenges… The Welsh Government have a clear opportunity to improve our position in energy markets now in relation to skills.”

Jane gave the example of Ørsted, who have invested £14 billion so far in the UK, and have 14 operational wind farms.

“We should be looking to these sorts of organisations and think, ‘How can we make sure that, as a nation, we’ve got those skills that would attract that organisation to us?’”


On the subject of skills, Jane told the committee:

“There is a skills shortage. It’s not just what we probably would tag as green skills, but software skills are in high demand; employers are paying a premium to recruit and retain those.

“I’ll switch away from the energy sector for a short while and I’ll pick up on industries such as the aircraft industry, which we know is a major contributor to carbon emissions. This industry isn’t going to diminish, it’s not going to go away, but what we have to do is think about the fact that aircraft may change, so what will we need as a long-term focus for this type of industry. Because we do have these industries in Wales already, so how do we help them transition?”

Watch clips from the meeting

Read a transcript of the meeting

two energy workers


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