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Talks continue to save ‘irreplaceable’ refinery jobs

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murco saleFIRST MINISTER Carwyn Jones has confirmed that talks are continuing to find a buyer for the closure-threatened Murco oil refinery in Milford Haven and safeguard hundreds of ‘irreplaceable’ jobs.

At Assembly question time on Tuesday (6 May), Joyce Watson AM asked for an update on discussions between potential buyers and the Murco Refinery Task Force, the group working to prevent closure.

The Labour member for Mid and West Wales also asked what lessons could be learnt from the closure of the Coryton refinery in Essex, which ceased production two years ago.

Mrs Watson, a member of the Assembly’s Enterprise and Business committee, said:

“As part of the ongoing discussions between the Welsh and UK Governments on the taskforce and through other channels, what discussions have there been about the lessons from the Coryton refinery in Essex?

“When that was allowed to close in 2012 it cost businesses and the community in that area an estimated £589 million.”

Mr Jones confirmed that discussions with potential buyers are continuing; the aim is to secure the future of the refinery, he said: “There are 300 jobs in the refinery. The average salary is £50,000. None of us could possibly allow ourselves to believe that those jobs could be replaced either in the short term or the medium term, which is why the refinery is so important.

“A number of discussions are still ongoing. We will continue to work to make sure that the refinery has a viable future.

“We will continue to work with any potential buyers and with the current owners to make sure that that future is realised.

The Murco Refinery Task Force led by Lord Bourne, held its first meeting on 15 April. Economy Minister Edwina Hart has instructed the group to engage partners in high-level discussions to support the company in maintaining the future of refinery operations at the site.

The First Minister continued: “It is not the case, as far as Murco is concerned, that it needs a substantial amount of investment in order to be profitable. The investment has been made, so it is in that fortunate position.

“The difficulty is that there is overcapacity in the refining market. Much more oil is now refined close to the source of the oil in the middle east, for example.

“There are certainly other refineries in Europe that are not as state of the art as Murco, which, in the normal course of events, would probably have closed first. So, the point that we wish to make to any potential buyer is that Murco is certainly a going concern. It is not a plant that needs a huge of amount of investment for it to be profitable in future, and that is why we believe that it has a future as long as there is an agreement between the current owners and any potential buyers.”

Rebecca Evans AM, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, has welcomed the recognition and support that the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, has shown for the Murco Oil refinery in Milford Haven, as well as his continued hope that a buyer may be found.

During questions, the First Minister outlined the benefits that the Milford site has over competitors across Europe in response to probing from Mrs Evans.

The First Minister said:

“There are two points. First, it is not the case, as far as Murco is concerned, that it needs a substantial amount of investment in order to be profitable. The investment has been made, so it is in that fortunate position.

“The difficulty is that there is overcapacity in the refining market. Much more oil is now refined close to the source of the oil in the middle east, for example, as was the case before, and it is unfortunate that the timing is as it is, as far as Murco is concerned. There are certainly other refineries in Europe that are not as state of the art as Murco, which, in the normal course of events, would probably have closed first.

“So, the point that we wish to make to any potential buyer is that Murco is certainly a going concern. It is not a plant that needs a huge of amount of investment for it to be profitable in future, and that is why we believe that it has a future as long as there is an agreement between the current owners and any potential buyers.”

Mrs Evans added:

“I share the First Minister’s hope that a new buyer for the refinery will be found as a matter of expediency. The First Minister makes an important point in that the Murco site is not in need of large investment, unlike other refinery sites in similar circumstances across Europe. The Milford site is still very much a going concern and one that is extremely important to the local economy.

“I join with the refinery workers in hoping that the Welsh Government’s taskforce set up to help the refinery will be able to find an interested party soon.”

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Appeal after woman sexually assaulted on cycle path near Haverfordwest

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POLICE officers in Haverfordwest are appealing for witnesses after a woman was sexually assaulted at approximately 4.30pm on Sunday (May 16).

The woman was walking along the cycle path between Haverfordwest and Tiers Cross when she was approached by a man who threatened and assaulted her, before walking away towards Haverfordwest town.

The male is described as a white male, between 5ft 4 and 5ft 11 tall , normal build with a welsh accent. He has short dark hair, a beard and a moustache, brown eyes, and wearing light blue jeans, navy/dark blue jersey with grey sleeves. Anyone who saw a man matching this description in the area between 3.30pm and 5pm in the afternoon.

A 35-year-old man has been arrested and is currently in police custody.

The cycle path is currently closed while the investigation continues.

Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, who is leading the investigation, said “Incidents of this nature are extremely rare in the Dyfed-Powys area. The public may see an increased presence of police officers in the coming days as police investigate the incident. Anyone with concerns or information that could help our enquiries can speak to those officers or contact police. While a man was quickly arrested we would still like to speak to anyone who saw a man matching the above description in the area yesterday afternoon.”

Anyone with information which could help the investigation is asked to contact police. This can be done online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet endorses STEP Fusion application

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Cabinet have today endorsed proposals from Cllr Paul Miller (Cabinet Member for Economic Development) to further progress the nomination of a Pembrokeshire site to host a Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) fusion power station in the county.

Working with the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the proposed site is adjacent to the existing energy facilities on the South Shore of the Haven waterway.

If approved, the facility will initially host research with the ultimate aim of developing this technology which could offer a virtually limitless source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economic Development said: “I am pleased my Cabinet colleagues endorsed this important programme of work. The Haven Waterway has provided livelihoods, underpinned by fossil fuels, for thousands of Pembrokeshire families, mine included, for more than 50 years. It’s my job to help ensure the waterway continues to provide high skilled, engineering, science and technology jobs for the next generation of this county – and so linked to our focus on climate change (and in addition to our existing multi-million pound commitments to supporting wind, wave and tidal clean power generation) my team have been exploring whether we can also support the development of clean, green fusion technology.

“It’s very early days in the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s site selection process but we’ll provide regular updates as things progress.”

•       STEP is an ambitious programme to design and build a prototype fusion power plant;
•       It is a UKAEA programme, currently with £222m funding from the UK Government to produce a concept design by 2024: https://step.ukaea.uk/

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Re-opening of indoor hospitality and attractions at Milford Waterfront

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RESTAURANTS and indoor visitor attractions in Milford Waterfront are welcoming the return of indoor services from today.

The re-opening of indoor dining allows all restaurants at Milford Waterfront to seat customers indoors. As well as all restaurants on the Waterfront now being able to offer this service, the brand-new Foam Domes overlooking the Milford Haven Waterway are able to open, with bookings being taken from the 19th May.

Indoor visitor attractions are also allowed to re-open. This includes the Waterfront Gallery, which is open today and Phoenix Bowl & Pirate Pete’s Adventure Play which is making preparations to open from Wednesday 19th May. Also, Milford Museum, which has had a new rendered exterior finish, is preparing to open for the end of May.

Lucy Wonnacott, Marketing Manager for Milford Waterfront commented: “We are delighted to see the re-opening of indoor hospitality and visitor attractions here at Milford Waterfront. Each business has their own safety and social distancing measures in place and we kindly ask that you respect and adhere to these for your own safety, and that of others. We hope you enjoy your visit to Milford Waterfront and stay safe!”

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