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SOME pubs can reopen on July 13

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PUBS, cafes and restaurants in Wales can re-open on July 13.
Or, at least, some can.

In a move heavily trailed by the First Minister at his Monday press conference (June 29), pubs, cafes, and restaurants which can serve customers in outdoor spaces they own or pub gardens will be allowed to open for customers on July 13.

The Welsh Government has not announced when indoor trade will be allowed to open.

OUTDOOR OPENING ONLY

The decision follows a torrent of criticism directed at the Welsh Government over its failure to provide a roadmap for reopening the hospitality trade. The industry is linked intimately with Wales’ tourist sector.

That failure was condemned by pub and restaurant owners and opposition spokespersons as evidence of dither, delay, and doing things differently for their own sakes.

Every other UK administration has either already set a clear route out for pubs and restaurants or already reopened them.

Speaking on Monday, the First Minister said: “I hope that [ongoing discussions] are productive and profitable about how pubs and restaurants can safely reopen in the outdoors. And with the mitigating measures that will need to be in place in order to allow that to happen safely.”

The First Minister continued: “We’re getting to the point now where we have a definitive list of the measures that the sector is proposing. And we will need to put that to the Chief Medical Officer, and those who advise us on the science of coronavirus to get their view as to whether or not the proposals amount to a safe reopening that could be recommended.”

The treatment of the consultation with the hospitality industry, suggests the Welsh Government did not join the dots to connect cafes, pubs, and restaurants importance to Wales’ tourism and foodservice industries.

The First Minister said on Monday ‘a rapid review’ would take place over ‘the next couple of days’ with the Government scientific and medical advisors.

However, guidance released without fanfare on the Welsh Government website the same day set out the plan to reopen pubs and restaurants but allow only outdoor service.

COUNCILS LOOK TO FUTURE

Several surveys of those planning ‘staycations’ revealed a majority would only travel to areas where pubs and restaurants were open.

With Wales’ beleaguered coastal and rural economies facing a double whammy of losing over half the tourist season and then being out-competed for tourism pounds by other parts of the UK, something had to give.

With a clear eye on the future of the sector, several local authorities – including Pembrokeshire – have opened consultations on ‘café culture’

Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Licensing, Phil Baker, said: “Given the Covid-19 regulations it is likely many more establishments will be considering the possibilities of utilising outdoor spaces.

“We would urge those running cafes, public houses, restaurants etc to think about how Café Culture could work for their premises and to get in touch so we can understand the demand and get the necessary plans in place.”

Following the Welsh Government’s announcement, it is possible – if not likely – the Council will reconsider the closing date for applications to the scheme.

WG’s APPROACH ‘PROBLEMATIC’ AND ‘FOOT-DRAGGING’

Helen Mary Jones MS, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy Minister, responded to the announcement on Thursday morning: “While the news that we have a date now for outdoor opening is welcome, a timetable could have been shared with the sector earlier. Giving pubs, restaurants, and cafes less than two weeks to prepare for re-opening shows how problematic the Welsh Government’s current ad-hoc approach is to easing restrictions.

“The Welsh Government needs to be planning much further ahead and making clear which restrictions are expected to be lifted in the weeks and months ahead.”

Ms Jones continued: “The Government must work with local authorities to urgently overcome the planning and licensing challenges that need to be addressed, enabling spaces to be created in our towns and villages to increase the space available for outside opening, and to work with the sector on a timetabled plan for indoor opening.

“Some businesses may not be able to open for some months to come. They will need longer term support, and they need to know from the Welsh and UK Governments now what that support will look like: we can’t afford to lose them.”
The Conservatives’ Shadow Minister for Covid Recovery – Darren Millar MS – commented: “This announcement will be welcome news for some businesses in the hospitality sector across Wales but without a relaxation of the two-metre social distancing rules and the ability to use indoor spaces, it still won’t be viable for many businesses.

“Unfortunately, the Labour-led Welsh Government’s foot dragging has come too late for some businesses which have already laid off staff and closed permanently due to the prolonged uncertainty and I suspect that without a clear timetable for indoor services others will too.”

He added: “The Labour-led administration should also consider bringing forward the days on which it relaxes its restrictions to Fridays. Too many weekends have already been lost due to Ministers always introducing changes to restrictions on Mondays causing people to lose the benefit of an important weekend of trade.”

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An experimental nuclear fusion reactor could be built in Pembrokeshire

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PEMBROKESHIRE could be the location of an experimental nuclear fusion reactor, which could produce abundent clean energy, if the council backs plans for a site on land owned jointly between Valero oil refinery and Pembroke Power station.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet will be asked next week (May 17) to support the project, which it is hoped could create limitless energy.

The officers of the council are recommending to Cabinet that members approve the nominated site being included on the list of UKAEA candidate sites.

Elsewhere in Wales, the Vale of Glamorgan Council is bidding for it to be built at the Aberthaw power station site.

Communities had until the end of March to nominate locations.

If approved the nuclear fusion station, the council’s officers say, could position Pembrokeshire at the international forefront of the clean energy revolution, bringing visibility to the community on a global stage. It was also recommended that the project will bring long-term and enduring environmental, employment, skills and economic benefits to the host community.

However, Greenpeace believes that nuclear fusion is an expensive distraction from the real agenda of providing environmentally benign, reliable energy supply. The campaign group gas also written to Parliament saying that the deuterium-tritium (D-T) fuel mixture used in nuclear fusion produces four times as many high energy neutrons per kilowatt-hour of energy produced than sandard nuclear fission.

Council officers recommend approval for a nuclear fission reactor near Valero refinery (pictured)

Nevertheless the government has a concept programme called STEP, which is an ambitious programme for the conceptual design of a fusion power station. It is a UKAEA administered programme, currently with £220 million funding to produce a phase 1 concept design by 2024.

Beyond 2024, it is claimed, phase 2 intends to move into the engineering design and build phases to deliver the prototype of a commercially viable fusion plant. The prototype will hopefully demonstrate the commercial viability of fusion. The learning from this will enable the future development of a UK fleet of commercial fusion plants, the government said. The target date for the first fully operational plant will be 2040.

In November 2020, the UK Government released an open call to communities across the UK to identify sites that could accommodate a STEP power station, with the site near Valero being chosen.

A report to councillors sitting on the Cabinet states that unlike with conventional nuclear power, there is a benefit of limited risk of nuclear materials proliferation. This is because nuclear fusion doesn’t employ fissile materials like uranium and plutonium. There are no enriched materials in a fusion reactor that could be exploited to make nuclear weapons.

The STEP programme said that it seeks to maximise the recycling and re-use of materials and only use disposal routes where there is no other option.

It said to this end research is being carried out on suitable materials to minimise decay times as much as possible. Any radioactivity of the components in the tokamak structure is classed as low level and relatively short lived.
Fusion is regarded by Government as being carbon free, safe, low land use, low, manageable waste, reliable energy baseload with unlimited fuel.

What is nuclear fusion?

Fusion is the process that takes place in the heart of stars and provides the power that drives the universe. When light nuclei fuse to form a heavier nucleus, they release bursts of energy. This is the opposite of nuclear fission – the reaction that is used in nuclear power stations today – in which energy is released when a nucleus splits apart to form smaller nuclei.

To produce energy from fusion here on Earth, a combination of hydrogen gases – deuterium and tritium – are heated to very high temperatures (over 100 million degrees Celsius). The gas becomes a plasma and the nuclei combine to form a helium nucleus and a neutron, with a tiny fraction of the mass converted into ‘fusion’ energy. A plasma with millions of these reactions every second can provide a huge amount of energy from very small amounts of fuel.

One way to control the intensely hot plasma is to use powerful magnets. The most advanced device for this is the ‘tokamak’, a Russian word for a ring-shaped magnetic chamber. CCFE’s goal is to develop fusion reactors using the tokamak concept.

Advantages of fusion power

With increasing concerns over climate change and finite supplies of fossil fuels, we need new, better ways to meet our growing demand for energy. The benefits of fusion power make it an extremely attractive option:

  • No carbon emissions. The only by-products of fusion reactions are small amounts of helium, an inert gas which can be safely released without harming the environment.
  • Abundant fuels. Deuterium can be extracted from water and tritium will be produced inside the power station from lithium, an element abundant in the earth’s crust and seawater. Even with widespread adoption of fusion power stations, these fuel supplies would last for many thousands of years.
  • Energy efficiency. One kilogram of fusion fuel could provide the same amount of energy as 10 million kilograms of fossil fuel. A 1 Gigawatt fusion power station will need less than one tonne of fuel during a year’s operation.
  • Less radioactive waste than fission. There is no radioactive waste by-product from the fusion reaction. Only reactor components become radioactive; the level of activity depends on the structural materials used. Research is being carried out on suitable materials to minimise decay times as much as possible.
  • Safety. A large-scale nuclear accident is not possible in a fusion reactor. The amounts of fuel used in fusion devices are very small (about the weight of a postage stamp at any one time). Furthermore, as the fusion process is difficult to start and keep going, there is no risk of a runaway reaction which could lead to a meltdown.
  • Reliable power. Fusion power plants will be designed to produce a continuous supply of large amounts of electricity. Once established in the market, costs are predicted to be broadly similar to other energy sources.
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Graffiti damages area of scientific and historical interest in Pembrokeshire

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GRAFFITI painted on stones of historical and environmental importance at Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has caused environmental damage that could take decades to recover.

The white paint had blighted a Site of Special Scientific Interest at Carn Ingli, which is home to a diverse range of rocks, springs and scarce plants including lichens and rare damselfly coenagrion mercurial.

Staff from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority carried out the careful removal work taking every precaution not to cause further damage. They followed an NRW-approved method statement to minimise the risk of further damaging the lichen flora.

They attempted to remove the spray paint with wire brushing, but with limited success. They had to resort to the use a solvent, carefully catching the paint and solvent residue and removing it from the site, to prevent any further damage. Special care was also taken not to trample any important flora growing on the ground around the stone. 

Ross Grisbrook, Environment Officer, Natural Resources Wales, said: 

“Not only is graffiti illegal and unsightly, but can also be very damaging to the environment. An area that is a Site of Special Scientific Interest is somewhere that should be nurtured and respected.

“Graffiti can damage the lichen flora that grows on stones. Once damaged, they can take decades to recolonise because they are slow-growing.

“I would urge anyone tempted to do such a thing again to think about the impact it will have.”

Tomos Jones, Community Archaeologist, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, said: 

“As a national park authority, part of our remit is to safeguard the special qualities that make up the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

“It is disheartening when graffiti appears that could damage scientifically important sites and their ecology, and also the setting of landscapes that are of historical significance.

“The removal of this particular graffiti proved challenging and required careful thought.

“We hope that this case highlights how damaging graffiti can be and also leads to its discouragement.” 

Report any sightings of graffiti to Dyfed-Powys Police online or by calling 101.

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New charity partnership represents a step into the wild

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Corgi will donate 20% of all sale proceeds of their Pembrokeshire Coast National Park collection of men’s and women’s socks to the Trust.

PEMBROKESHIRE COAST NATIONAL PARK TRUST is delighted to announce a new charity partnership with Corgi Socks, a Carmarthenshire-based family-run business that’s been specialising in handmade luxury socks and knitwear since 1892.

As part of this partnership, Corgi will donate 20% of all sale proceeds of their Pembrokeshire Coast National Park inspired collection of men’s and women’s socks to the Trust. The funds will enable the Trust to support the vital work of improving access to the great outdoors, boosting diversity and conservation, promoting outdoor learning and supporting jobs and skills.

Chris Jones, Corgi CEO, said: “With this beautiful iconic landscape right here on our company’s doorstep, it is a daily reminder of the importance of sustainability and environmental issues. We are delighted to support a charity helping to keep the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park special now, and for future generations.”

The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust is dedicated to preserving all that is special and unique about the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park landscape for future generations to enjoy. Since the Trust was established in 2019, it has raised over £100,000 for projects in the National Park that support conservation, community, culture and the Pembrokeshire Coast. 

Corgi’s Pembrokeshire Coast inspired socks can be found at www.corgisocks.com/collections/protecting-pembrokeshire-coast-national-park, and a discount of 10% is available to those who sign up to the Corgi socks mailing list.

The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust is a charity registered by the UK Charity Commission. Its registered charity number is 1179281.

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