Plans to build the UK’s first nuclear medicine facility producing cancer-fighting substances have been unveiled by the Welsh Government.
The laboratory in north-west Wales would produce medical radioisotopes which are critical to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer as they are used during scans and in radiotherapy.
The UK has no domestic supply of the majority of radioisotopes, relying on imports from European facilities.
A number of sites have closed and it is believed that by 2030 the UK could have no medical radioisotopes, with a significant impact on patient care.
The Project Arthur (Advanced Radioisotope Technology for Health Utility Reactor) facility would provide radioisotopes to the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, while improving the Welsh economy through the creation of high and low-skilled jobs over several decades.
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Today, I am pleased to set out a clear ambition for creating another major technological cluster here in Wales, while also tackling a fast-approaching crisis for medical treatment right around the world.
“This project will be vital in helping us deliver on our commitments to creating a healthier and more prosperous Wales, by creating the opportunities people need to make their futures here in Wales.”
He said funding for the project needs to be secured from different sources including the UK Government, but added that the Welsh Government had invested in a technical feasibility study.
Mr Gething said: “The scale of investment needed to bring Project Arthur to life is considerable.
“I am calling on the UK Government to co-operate in supporting our efforts, since this development benefits and supports future cancer diagnostics and treatment right across the UK.
“Now is the time for decisive action and commitment. The implications of not acting will be counted in human lives and in long-term economic pressure on health services, through unsustainable health treatments.
“We are now experiencing unprecedented economic pressures – but that is not an excuse for failing to plan for this clear future need. We must prevent a future health and economic crisis.
“I’m confident our Project Arthur facility can become a global centre of excellence and a source of pride for Wales and the wider UK for many decades.”