THE Welsh Government’s decision to invest a further £21.2 million of taxpayer money into Cardiff has been criticised by Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay, who said the move effectively amounted to a “blank cheque” for the business.

Transport minister Ken Skates said the funding – in the form of a loan the airport will pay back – would support “ambitious plans for the future” including a target of two million passengers a year.

But Conservative AM Mr Ramsay, who serves as chairman of the Welsh Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee, questioned the fairness of the loan.

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“Businesses in my constituency do not receive this level of support from the Welsh Government and will understandably be questioning the fairness of these funding priorities,” he said. “We need far more clarity on what this money is being provided for and when we will see an end to what effectively amounts to a “blank cheque” for Cardiff Airport.”

Mr Ramsay also called for more clarity on how the funding would be used.

“The Welsh Government has committed to this new loan without providing any detail on what the money is for or when it will be paid back,” he said. “This comes on top of a previous loan of £38 million in 2015 which has also yet to be paid back.

“This all amounts to a considerable sum of taxpayers’ money and the public have the right to expect a coherent and rigid timetable for this to be recovered.”

The Welsh Government bought the airport in 2013. Since then, Mr Skates said, passenger numbers had increased by nearly two-thirds. There are currently around 1.7 million passengers using Cardiff Airport each year.

Announcing the loan on Monday, Mr Skates said the money would be made available in conjunction with a six-year plan for investment in Cardiff Airport.

He said the target of two million passengers annually was being “hampered” by the disproportionate costs faced by smaller UK airports.

But following the transport minister’s announcement, the Welsh Conservatives said Cardiff Airport would do better if it were re-privatised.

“The airport needs to be sold back to the private sector, where proper investment can be made which doesn’t rely on the people of Wales shouldering the financial burden,” shadow transport minister Russell George said.