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OfCom stops local DAB broadcaster MuxCo’s expansion into Swansea

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AN APPLICATION by MuxCo Wales Limited (“MuxCo”), the holder of the local radio multiplex licence for Mid & West Wales, to extend the licensed area for its service to include Swansea, has been refused by Ofcom this week (Aug 1).

MuxCo broadcasts Radio Pembrokeshire, Radio Carmarthenshire, Swansea Bay Radio, National Radio, Dragon Radio, Heart and BBC Radio Wales to Mid and West Wales in the DAB radio format.

But MuxCo’s grab for the Swansea broadcast area did not safeguard other commercial interests, OfCom said.

A spokesman from the broadcasting regulator told The Herald: “We do not consider that we have sufficient evidence to be satisfied that there are sufficient safeguards in place to protect the rights and interests of other multiplex operators.”

A public consultation was held between 30 January and 28 February 2017.Ofcom received three responses  – one from the holder of the Swansea local radio multiplex licence, Switchdigital (S&S) Limited (“Switchdigital”), opposing the request, and two other responses from individuals who were in support of the request.

In considering MuxCo’s request in relation to the first of the policy criteria listed above, Ofcom took account of the fact that the request, if approved, would not result in local DAB coverage being extended into an un-served area as there is no proposed change to the coverage of the Mid & West Wales multiplex.

Indeed, in its application for the change MuxCo stated that the purpose of its request was to “formally incorporate coverage [of the city and county of Swansea] that the multiplex already delivers”. Since the proposal would not provide a service in an un-served area as the Mux Co service is already being transmitted in the Swansea area, its provision would not in itself enhance consumer choice in terms of the services available in the Swansea area (listeners would continue to receive the services they are able to receive currently) or result in an increase in competition in that area. Also in its response to the consultation, Switchdigital argued that the proposal to make a formal change to MuxCo’s licensed area, if approved, could operate to harm the development of DAB broadcasting because it would increase the cost to Switchdigital, whose service was specifically designed and licensed for the Swansea area, of improving the coverage of its own multiplex in that area (if it chose to do so) as in that event Switchdigital would be required to deploy an additional transmitter to avoid causing interference to the Mid & West Wales multiplex. Whilst we acknowledge that Switchdigital might have to deploy an additional transmitter in these circumstances, we do not attach great weight to this argument since the coverage of the Swansea multiplex in the area which MuxCo is seeking to add to its licensed area is already very extensive, and consequently, it does not seem very likely that Switchdigital would seek to enhance its coverage there.

An Ofcom report into the application stated: “Both MuxCo and Switchdigital made reference in their submissions to the Local DAB Expansion Plan, an agreement between Government, the BBC and the operators of local DAB multiplexes (i.e. including both MuxCo and Switchdigital) made in 2014 to extend and improve local DAB coverage to make it broadly equivalent to the existing FM coverage of the largest local commercial radio service in each local area.”

The report went on to say: “MuxCo stated that as part of “the wider industry discussions” (i.e. the discussions which led to this agreement), “we believe that there are sufficient safeguards in place to protect the rights and interests of other multiplex operators and the services they carry”. However, Switchdigital pointed out that MuxCo had not requested this extension to its licensed area during the negotiations that led to that agreement so the extension was not considered alongside the series of other changes to licensed areas (and frequencies) requested by all local multiplex operators in 2015 to help facilitate the Local DAB Expansion Plan2 (i.e. what MuxCo referred to as “the wider industry discussions”).”

Ofcom said: “Consequently, MuxCo’s belief that the rights and interests of other local multiplex operators were sufficiently safeguarded on the basis of that agreement was based on industry discussions which had not considered the change to the licensed area MuxCo was now proposing.

“In light of the above and having considered all the available information and representations made, we do not consider that we have sufficient evidence to be satisfied that there are sufficient safeguards in place to protect the rights and interests of other multiplex operators.

 

 

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Natural Resources Wales approves Ireland-UK interconnector licence

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GREENLINK INTERCONNECTOR LIMITED says it welcomes the decision by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to approve its application for a Marine Licence for the Greenlink electricity interconnector project, which will link the power markets of Great Britain and Ireland.

An important project for Pembrokeshire, and the UK as a whole, NRW’s go-ahead is one of several consents required for the construction of the project and covers installation of the marine cable in UK waters.

The approval is a major milestone for Greenlink and joins the onshore planning consents granted unanimously in July last year by Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Greenlink’s proposed 190km subsea and underground electricity cable will run beneath the Irish Sea to connect National Grid’s Pembroke Power Station in Wales and EirGrid’s Great Island substation in County Wexford, Ireland. It will have a nominal capacity of 500 MW.

The Wales-Ireland link is just one of four interconnectors being installed

Nigel Beresford, CEO for Greenlink Interconnector Limited, said: “We are delighted by Natural Resources Wales’s decision to grant this licence. This marks a significant milestone for Greenlink and another important step towards project construction, which we expect to commence later this year.

“The Greenlink team has worked constructively with Natural Resources Wales and Welsh marine stakeholders to find workable solutions to the many technical and environmental challenges facing a large infrastructure project like this, and this has been reflected in the quality of the final proposal.

“The thorough environmental and technical assessments we have undertaken, supported by the practical and value-adding feedback we have received from key marine stakeholders, have ensured that we move forward confident that we are delivering a well-designed project with the interests of the Welsh marine habitat at its core.”

The subsea section of the cable will be approximately 160km in length and uses high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology. The preferred route and installation methods were chosen following the conclusion of subsea surveys and consultation with key stakeholders.

In Ireland, a Foreshore Licence application was submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Foreshore Unit) in 2019 and the onshore planning application was submitted to An Bord Pleanála in December 2020.

Greenlink is one of Europe’s most important energy infrastructure projects and brings benefits on both sides of the Irish Sea for energy security, regional investment, jobs and the cost-effective integration of low carbon energy. The project will offer important local supply chain opportunities and plans are being drawn up for ‘meet-the-buyer’ events in the local area prior to construction.

Once fully consented, Greenlink is expected to have a three-year construction programme, with commissioning planned by the end of 2023.

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Appeal from Fire and Rescue Service to install working smoke alarms

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AT 01:17am this morning, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, crews from Milford Haven were called to a property fire in the Hakin area of Milford Haven.

The fire was confined to a pan on a stove in the kitchen area and extinguished by firefighters using two breathing apparatus, a hose reel jet and a thermal imaging camera.

Crews also ventilated the property and fitted smoke alarms within the property.

The Fire Service left the incident at 02:00am.

Watch Manager Alun Griffiths, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said “This fire was the result of cooking left unattended. It is so important to remove all pots and pans from a heat source when you are called away from the cooker.

“Thankfully, the occupiers of the property managed to exit the property before our firefighters arrived, but it could have ended very differently as there were no smoke alarms fitted in the property.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of installing working smoke alarms in your homes and testing them regularly. In the dreadful event of a fire, they can alert you to the danger sooner and could mean the difference between life and death.

“As a Fire and Rescue Service, we provide Home Fire Safety advice which is free of charge. We also offer Safe and Well Visits which you can arrange by phoning us on 0800 169 1234 or by visiting the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website.”

For further Home Fire Safety advice or to talk about the possibility of a Safe and Well Visit by Fire and Rescue Service personnel, please phone us on 0800 169 1234.​​​ Alternatively please complete an online Request a Safe and Well Visit​ form on the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website: https://www.mawwfire.gov.uk/eng/your-safety/in-your-home/

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Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent

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A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire overnight.

Callum Hicks, of Meyler Crescent, was woken just after 1am on Monday morning (Mar 1) to see his vehicle in flames, with fuel running down the street on fire.

The apocalyptic scenes brought neighbours out of their homes and the fire brigade was quickly called and put out the blaze.

At this time the police and fire brigade are not suspecting foul play, but in a telephone call to a Herald reporter Callum Hicks said that he thought it was impossible that the vehicle would just spontaneously combust.

Work van: Callum Hicks with his truck, which he says was his “pride and joy”

Explaining that he thought his truck had been set on fire deliberately, he said: “There was CCTV of the fire, but its a football pitch length away, with a white van parked blocking the view of the camera. There was not a clear uninterrupted view.”

“I parked the truck at 2pm on Sunday afternoon so it was 11 hours before the fire started. The vehicle was therefore cold, and locked up.”

Firefighters at the scene

The Herald has asked two mechanics, one of whom has worked on Transit vans for decades. The first said: “It is very unlikely that a vehicle like this would catch fire on it’s own – its impossible – I am 99.9% sure that this was arson.”

The second, a specialist in vehicle electronics said: “There are so many fuses and fail safes its highly unlikely for diesel vans to burst into flames like this without some kind of catalyst.”

Burned out shell: The vehicle after the fire

“There have been issues regarding Transits in the past, even a product recall involving a fire risk from a towing module. But, the chances are a million to one of it catching fire after being parked up for almost twelve hours. It just doesn’t happen.”

The Herald asked Callum Hicks if he could think of anyone who may want to torch his truck. He said that he could not think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Commenting on the police handling of the matter, he said: “They told my missus, Rhianna Pearce, that they were not taking matters further because it was just an accident – its not!”

“I have been in trouble with the police before, and they know I am a bit of a boy, but I think this is the reason that the police are not looking into this properly.

“At the end of the day this was a large fire in a residential area, lives could have been in danger. I have lost thousands because I was insured third-party only and I do not have cover for fire.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been asked for a comment.

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