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Could Pembrokeshire be home to ‘hugely ambitious’ fusion power plant?

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A LOCATION is needed host a prototype nuclear fusion power plant, which a government-backed programme plans to build by 2040.

The UK government is asking Pembrokeshire communities to put themselves forward as the site of a future fusion power plant.

Communities are being asked to step forward with proposals to house a prototype fusion power plant in a move that could propel them on to the global stage in a world first.

The site does not need to be near existing nuclear power stations but will need 100 hectares of land and a plentiful water supply. Ministers say the project would bring thousands of skilled jobs and be part of its planned “green industrial revolution” to tackle the climate crisis.

The UK programme is called Step – the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production – and communities will have until the end of March 2021 to submit their nominations and will need to demonstrate that their local area has just the right mix of social, commercial and technical conditions to host the new plant – such as adequate land conditions, grid connection and water supply.

Nuclear fusion replicates the intense atomic reactions that power the sun and uses a hydrogen isotope found in seawater as fuel. It cannot produce a runaway chain reaction like conventional nuclear fission, which involves splitting atoms rather than fusing them together. The level of radioactive waste is also far lower. No exclusion zone will be needed around the site, officials said.

However, the technical challenges are enormous and the programme’s leaders acknowledge it is “hugely ambitious”. This is because fuel heated to 10 times the temperature of the sun has to be magnetically levitated to stop it melting the reactor vessel. Scientists and engineers have pursued the dream of limitless and clean fusion energy for more than half a century, but the first power stations remain decades away.

The project has been granted £222m to date by the government.

Communities have until March 2021 to submit their nominations, with the successful site chosen by the end of 2022.

“We want the UK to be a trailblazer in developing fusion energy,” said Alok Sharma, the business and energy secretary. He said communities had an “incredible opportunity to secure their place in the history books” by potentially helping the UK to be the first country in the world to commercialise fusion power.

The UK has the largest working fusion reactor in the world – called Jet – at the Culham Science Centre near Oxford. However, a far larger €20bn (£18bn) fusion reactor called Iter is being assembled in France, backed by the world’s biggest countries. It expects to create its first super-heated plasma by 2025 and reach full power by 2035, with the aim of demonstrating that more energy can be taken out than is put in.

The goal of Step is to show that a smaller and less expensive plant can create fusion power. Key to this is the spherical shape of the chamber that contains the plasma, which is more compact than the doughnut-shaped chamber being used at Iter.

However, this compactness means the Step system must have a much more efficient cooling system. Technology to achieve this is being tested in the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (Mast) experiment, also at Culham. But the Culham site is too small to host the Step project.

Prof Ian Chapman, the chief executive of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, which is leading Step, said: “Step is about moving from research and development to delivery. It will prove that fusion is not a far-off dream, but a dawning reality.”

Tim Luce, the chief scientist at Iter, said: “It is gratifying to see the UK make a firm commitment to continuing its historic leadership in magnetic fusion development. Step promises lower costs but faces various engineering and physics challenges, such as large stresses in the magnet structure and high heat fluxes to the wall. [But] first plasma in 2040 appears to be a realistic goal, assuming favourable and timely results in the present generation of spherical tokamaks.”

The UK is a participant in Iter due to its membership of Euratom, but it will leave the group after Brexit. However, officials say they are hopeful that the UK can rejoin Iter as an associate country.

The timetable for Step is to have a concept design by 2024, then a detailed engineering design allowing the start of construction in 2032 and operations to begin in 2040.

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Reminder from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park to pre-book for attractions

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MEMBERS of the public are being reminded to pre-book their entry tickets before visiting two popular National Park Authority-run attractions.

To allow for social distancing on site, both Carew Castle and Tidal Mill and Castell Henllys Iron Age Village have been operating a pre-booking system since last summer.

Those wishing to visit should book their tickets online before arriving at the site. This applies to Annual Pass holders and others who qualify for free entry, such as wheelchair users and accompanying carers.

Carew Castle is open to pre-booked visitors between 10am and 4pm (Tidal Mill 11.30am – 5pm), while those wishing to visit Castell Henllys will be asked to book either a morning slot (10am-1pm) or an afternoon slot (2pm-5pm) before visiting the site.

Daisy Hughes, Visitor Services Manager at Carew Castle and Tidal Mill, said: “Over the past 12 months, we have made some changes to the site and how we operate to ensure that we keep you, our staff and our local community safe.

“All areas of the Castle and Tidal Mill are open, including the Walled Garden and play area. Nest Tearoom, which has plenty of outdoor undercover seating, will be serving light lunches and homemade cakes along with hot and cold drinks throughout the day, and the Castle and Mill Shops remain open – although face coverings must be worn and only card/contactless payments are currently being accepted.

“With the exception of Nest Tearoom, pre-booking is essential, though, and we’re asking all visitors to make sure they book their entry tickets in advance, in order to avoid any delays or disappointment when they arrive on site.”

Entry tickets for both Carew Castle and Castell Henllys can be purchased by visiting www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/events

A dynamic programme of events suitable for all the family will be running at both sites throughout the summer months. Visit the above website for more information and to book tickets.

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Salvage Hunters: New series is filming in Pembrokeshire, and they need help

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SALVAGE HUNTERS, the well-loved and most watched Quest TV and Discovery Network show, is on the hunt for locations to film at in the Pembrokeshire and the wider South West Wales area to feature in the upcoming series.

We follow decorative antiques expert Drew Pritchard as he travels around various locations in the UK and abroad on his quest to find and buy unusual objects with an interesting history.

Drew really visits everywhere – beautiful estates, old family businesses, barns and attic’s stuffed full of unwanted things, museums, factories, collectors and iconic religious sites buying all sorts along the way – from gorgeous country house furniture and railwayana to 6ft 1980s disco balls and anything in-between.

Now in its sixteenth series and airing to over half a million people in the UK and millions more worldwide, this is a great opportunity for you to promote your business or home to a broad audience, sell a few items that perhaps you no longer need, make some money and celebrate the history and heritage of the UK.

If you think you fit the bill or know somebody that might then please do not hesitate to reach out and speak with a member of our team.

Call us on 0203 179 0092 or alternatively send us an email to – salvagehunters@curvemedia.com

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Haverfordwest and Cardigan high streets listed as among the ten worst in Britain

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TWO west Wales high streets have been listed in a UK wide report detailing Britain’s worst high streets.

In the highly respected report Cardigan High Street has been listed as the 4th worst in Britain, whilst Haverfordwest has come 8th.

The Harper Dennis Hobbs rankings, which come out every two years, in sadly listed six Welsh High Streets in the worst 10 category.

Some retail centres have performed well since 2019 but most Welsh towns have fallen down the list.

Overall the performance in Wales was poor with a major drop in the average position of Welsh high streets on the UK list.

More shops in Haverfordwest’s town centre have closed since the coronavirus hit (Pic: File image)

The average rank was 797 – the worst of any nation and region in the UK, showing the huge challenge Welsh Government has to revive town centres. Six of the bottom ten UK high streets were in Wales.

Normally Harper Dennis Hobbs releases the full ranking but when the firm published its 2021 report in February, it only made the top 50 best-performing locations publicly available. Now, a copy of the full list shared with i lays bare the shopping centres and high streets that have fared worst over the past year.

Top of the worst list is Girvan in South Ayrshire.

Girvan is home to around 6,500 people and has suffered the same difficulties as many cities and towns across the UK when it comes to its high street’s declining appeal – but it is the area’s “very weak retail offer” and the large number of empty shops that helped seal its place at the bottom of the league table.

Haverfordwest in 2014. can you spot any differences to now?

“Girvan along with Haverfordwest and Cardigan all scored poorly due to a very weak retail offer [and] the towns have a relatively high vacancy rate,” said Andy Metherell, head of retail consultancy at Harper Dennis Hobbs.

Andy Metherell, head of retail consultancy at HDH, explained: “Our analysis is unique as we use variables that both consumers and retailers consider when assessing shopping locations to rank the top 1,000 retail centres in Great Britain. This Vitality Ranking looks very different from previous years as the ‘retail health’ of high streets across the country has seen contrasting fortunes since the start of the pandemic.

“The most vital retail centres currently provide services that are essential to people’s lives, such as grocers and pharmacies. These essential retailers have been able to trade throughout the strictest lockdowns, and consumers have not been willing or able to travel far to visit these stores. Shopping patterns have therefore changed significantly since the start of the pandemic, and consumers’ local high streets are benefitting at the expense of major destinations.”

Turning empty retail spaces in the town into homes or offices could help rejuvenate the area and bring “demand to the doors” of shops that survive, Mr Metherell said.

Cardigan High Street before Covid-19 (Pic Stay In Wales)

Top 10 best high streets 2021

  1. Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire
  2. Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
  3. Tenterden, Kent
  4. Wimbledon Village, south-west London
  5. Marlborough, Wiltshire
  6. Sevenoaks, Kent
  7. Kingston upon Thames, Greater London
  8. Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire
  9. Harpenden, Hertfordshire
  10. Ilkley, Bradford

Top 10 worst high streets 2021

  1. Girvan, South Ayrshire
  2. Bristol – Baldwin Street
  3. Chepstow, Monmouthshire
  4. Cardigan, Ceredigion
  5. Southsea, Portsmouth
  6. Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taf
  7. Ammanford, Carmarthenshire
  8. Haverfordwest, Permbrokeshire
  9. Canning Town, east London
  10. Newtown, Powys

(Source: Harper Dennis Hobbs)

Cardigan High Street pictured in the early 2000’s before Currys left town (Pic Geograph)
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