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Auditors General for Wales' critical report on Anglesey fish farm funding

Published date: 18 December 2013 |
Published by: Geraint Jones 
Read more articles by Geraint Jones  Email reporter


 

WELSH Government procedures to approve and manage grants for an £11.9 million Anglesy fish farm were unsuitable, an audit has found.

Huw Vaughan Thomas, Auditor General for Wales, said procedures were “unsuited to a project of this scale, complexity and risk”, which involved £5.2 million of public money.

Mr Thomas found the Welsh Government identified potential risks when it approved grant funding for the project, which went into administration in 2011, but that it did not introduce grant conditions that would have helped mitigate the risks.

He added: “My report on this project illustrates clearly some of the shortcomings that used to exist with the Welsh Government’s grants management arrangements.

“Significant steps have since been taken to improve these arrangements, and my recommendations are designed to further strengthen the management of risks associated with complex projects that are supported by public funds.”

Mr Thomas said the farm, which produces seabass, had met environment and economic objectives, creating 30 jobs.

However, the farm encountered problems that resulted in delays and increased costs.

It was originally due to be completed in 2003, but did not become operational until 2009.

In January 2012 its assets were sold for £1.2 million.

North Wales AM Antoinette Sandbach, who raised serious concerns about pollution from the farm and its value for money to taxpayers nearly almost two years ago, was pleased the issues had been addressed.

She added: “I can only hope that lessons will be learnt from this fiasco.”

Welsh Government Spokesperson said: “We welcome the report on the Penmon Fish Farm, noting that the project substantially delivered its objectives and remains a successful business operation, supporting jobs in north Wales.

“Significant improvements have already been made to our grants management arrangements since the period under review, and these recommendations will help us to support continuous improvements in the monitoring of projects supported by public funds.”

 

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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