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Dale Bay hosting important environmental project

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SKY OCEAN RESCUE, the WWF and Swansea University are launching the biggest seagrass restoration project ever undertaken in the UK, which will take place at Dale Bay in Pembrokeshire.

Seagrass Ocean Rescue aims to restore 20,000 m² of the marine plant in west Wales, following the disappearance of up to 92% of the UK’s seagrass in the last century. The huge decline has been caused by pollution, runoff from the land, coastal development and damage from boat propellers and chain moorings.

Seagrass is a flowering marine plant that captures carbon from the atmosphere up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests, making it a key weapon in the battle against climate change. It often grows in large underwater meadows, which absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. As the fires continue to engulf the Amazon rainforest – the largest land-based carbon sink on the planet – the ocean’s role in halting climate change is becoming all the more important.

Alec Taylor, WWF head of marine policy, said: “Seagrass is a wonder-plant that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, so its steep decline is extremely concerning. Without seagrass the myriad of amazing species that depend on it could disappear, the food we eat will be affected and the amount of carbon in the environment will increase.

Along with Sky Ocean Rescue and Swansea University, we are urgently calling on governments to use the model our project is creating to bring back these lush underwater meadows. Governments also need to work with local communities to ensure that these vital areas are well managed. The UK can become a global leader in restoring ocean health and combating climate change if it uses the solutions that nature provides.”

Globally, seagrass accounts for 10% of annual ocean carbon storage, despite occupying only 0.2% of the seafloor. It is important for biodiversity, acting as a nursery for a wide variety of marine life from endangered seahorses to colourful sea snails. 10,000 m² of seagrass can support 80,000 fish and 100 million invertebrates. It is a crucial habitat for many of the fish we eat such as cod, plaice and pollock, and helps protect our coasts from erosion as it absorbs wave energy. It produces oxygen as well as helping to clean the ocean by absorbing polluting nutrients produced on land by humans.

The cutting-edge pilot project will create a model that could lead the way for large scale seagrass restoration throughout the UK if it is adopted by the UK government.

This summer, one million seeds were collected from existing meadows around the British Isles by a group of volunteers led by Swansea University. The seagrass, which is found in shallow, sheltered areas along the coast, was reached by snorkelling, diving and wading. The blades containing the seeds were snapped off – causing no harm to the plant – and then taken to laboratories where they are currently being sorted and prepared, following a method pioneered by Swansea University.

The seeds will be put in hessian bags to secure them when they are planted on the seabed, which will take place this winter at a site in Dale Bay. Historically this area has lost seagrass but has the right features for it to survive in terms of water depth and sufficient light levels.

Swansea University’s Dr Richard Unsworth, director of the conservation charity Project Seagrass and lead biologist on the project, said: “If we want to provide our fisheries and our coastlines with the potential to adapt to a rapidly changing climate we need to restore the habitats and biodiversity that support their productivity. Providing a demonstration of the potential for restoration of our marine environment to be meaningful will hopefully act as a catalyst for further recovery of our UK seas.”

Seagrass Ocean Rescue involves working with the local communities close to the planting site, to design the project in a way that does not affect local livelihoods and lifestyles. The work also aims to further understanding of the importance of seagrass and the benefits that it can bring to the area. In addition to supporting an increase in fish, crab and shrimp numbers, which will benefit fishers, the area containing the seagrass is likely to see improved water clarity, enhancing local watersports activities. The work aims to demonstrate how communities and conservation can work in harmony.

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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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Newly elected Member of the Senedd completes first week in the role

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FOLLOWING on from the Welsh Parliamentary elections, the newly elected member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Samuel Kurtz MS, has reflected on his first week in his new role.

The election saw Samuel receive 11,240 votes from across the constituency, the largest number of votes for any Welsh Conservative candidate in the constituency for a Senedd election. It was a closely fought campaign which was conducted respecting Covid-19 restrictions.

Commenting after a busy first week, Sam said:

“It has certainly been a whirlwind. From the moment that the results were announced last Friday my feet haven’t touched the ground.

“After speaking with a number of local and national media outlets, I managed to spend some time with loved ones before heading up to the Senedd early on Monday morning to be sworn in.

“As a Welsh speaker, I was delighted to swear my oath bilingually and will ensure that I continue to do so when speaking in the chamber.

“I’m in the process of recruiting my staff and getting both my Senedd and Constituency office set up to ensure that I can continue the good work of my predecessor, Angela Burns, in standing up for the interest of all my constituents whether they voted for me or not.

“On Wednesday, we elected the Llywydd and Deputy Llywydd as well as confirming Mark Drakeford as the First Minister. As one of 19 new members across the chamber and nine Welsh Conservatives, the coming weeks will be spent learning the ropes and procedures in Cardiff Bay. Over the course of the campaign, I have picked up a several issues and pieces of  casework from across the constituency and will be ensuring that the constituency work is always my priority.

“As we emerge from the Covid restrictions and society begins to open back up I am looking forward to getting to every corner of the constituency, meeting more businesses and individuals.

“I am planning in making use of both modern and traditional methods of connecting with constituents, from email newsletters, social media platforms and virtual surgeries to doorstep surgeries and face to face meetings, to ensure I provide a strong voice in Cardiff Bay for this beautiful part of the country.”

Samuel is contactable via email on Samuel.kurtz@senedd.wales

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