FOURTEEN jobs are at risk at the renowned Centre for Alternative Technology near Machynlleth, it has been announced this evening.
A drop in visitor numbers and rising costs have led CAT to announce the closure of its visitor centre to day visitors, with 14 jobs at risk.
In a statement released on Wednesday evening, CAT said "The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) confirms with a heavy heart the closure of its visitor centre to day visitors from 9 November 2023. It will remain open for students, pre-booked group visits, events, and courses.
"Sadly, 14 positions are at risk at CAT and a full consultation is taking place across at least 14 days.
"Staff wellbeing is of utmost priority, and CAT is providing specialist support to staff during this difficult time.
"This decision has been made due to a number of factors, during a challenging time for the charity sector in the UK.
"The combination of rising running costs, reduced visitor numbers to Wales post-pandemic and funding delays have made it economically inviable to continue operating the visitor centre in its current model — despite CAT’s best efforts to mitigate these factors.
"The closure of the current visitor centre to day visitors will, however, allow CAT to focus on strengthening economically viable aspects of its operations — helping deliver on its mission to create and share practical solutions to tackle the climate and nature emergency.
"CAT remains strongly committed to its proposed wider redevelopment plans, which feature significant improvements to the visitor offer. These proposals remain under consideration for funding from the Mid Wales Growth Deal and other sources. Once secured, these funds will ensure CAT can re-open to day visitors, providing additional tourism and education opportunities for the communities of Mid Wales and beyond.
"In the meantime, the Graduate School of the Environment, short course delivery and Zero Carbon Britain Hub and Innovation Lab are unaffected — allowing CAT to continue its vital work in providing green skills for the future.
"As a charity, CAT relies on income from visitors, learners and supporters to cover the costs of its environmental education and research provisions. If you would like to make a donation to CAT, and for further information, please visit the CAT website."
The Centre for Alternative Technology has been earmarked for a £24.2 million investment through the UK and Welsh governments levelling up scheme for mid Wales.
Announced as spart of a £110 million package, the multi-million pound investment at CAT would create an “immersive learning experience” to produce skills for workers needed in the renewable energy, “sustainable” construction, food, land use and tourism.
However, two years on, no funding has yet been released by the mid Wales Growth Deal for any of the proposed projects.
Councillor Bryan Davies and Councillor James Gibson-Watt, Leaders of Ceredigion and Powys County Councils issued a joint statement:
“We are naturally concerned about the announcement and the potential impact on individuals and the wider community. We both met with the Chair of the Board of Trustees and the Chief Executive of CAT yesterday to offer our full support. CAT is an asset to Mid Wales and its economy – and we will do everything we can to support them through this difficult period.
In respect of the Mid Wales Growth Deal, we are working to understand the situation and anticipated impact on the proposal for funding. At present, no project has received funding from the Growth Deal due to the projects still working on their business cases. Following Government guidance robustly is crucial to ensure that public funds are invested wisely in schemes that are sustainable for the long term.
"It would not be appropriate for us to comment further at this time.”