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THE impact of the coronavirus on projects worth £1.3 billion to South West Wales is being continually assessed, leaders have been told.

A range of high-profile energy, life science and advanced manufacturing projects are underway or in the pipeline as part of a city deal for the Swansea Bay City Region.

Leaders representing the councils, health boards and universities involved heard that Covid-19 risk assessments were being produced for all the projects.

Work is also ongoing to mitigate any issues.

“There is a whole range of risks about slippage, and delay of development of business plans,” said programme director Jonathan Burnes at a meeting of the city region’s ruling joint committee on June 11.

“As programme director I’m relatively comfortable.”

Officers are also continuing efforts to ensure that private sector funding, which forms half the £1.3 billion deal, will be forthcoming and that any European Union cash is secured while it’s still available.

An updated risk register report will be submitted to the joint committee at its next meeting.

The Welsh and UK Governments are expected to contribute £241 million to the city deal, which aims to create nearly 10,000 jobs over a 15-year period.

So far only the two Governments have only released one instalment of £18 million, following their approval of two project business cases.

The report before the joint committee said no other business cases would be approved until the city region implemented the recommendations of an independent review from March 2019.

The review followed concerns about governance and a perception of slow progress after a heads of terms agreement for the city deal was signed back in March 2017. The review team said it was convinced the projects would have a positive impact on the region.

However, the UK and Welsh Governments have just signed off a third business case – for a £60 million marine energy project in Pembrokeshire – which had been in their in-tray for a while.

Speaking at the joint committee meeting, Pembrokeshire Council leader David Simpson welcomed the sign-off but said it had “not been a very easy journey.”

He added: “It will bring jobs to the area. It will bring prosperity to the area.”

Speaking after the meeting, joint committee chairman and leader of Swansea Council, Rob Stewart, said: “Considerable progress is being made on meeting all recommendations from the independent review into the city deal, with that work on track to be complete this summer.

“This work is important because it will enable the release of further funding, supplementing the release of the first £18 million which has already been secured.”

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