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Any takers for Joseph’s dream?

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Huw George: “No comment”

Huw George: “No comment”

THE ANNOUNCEMENT by Milford Central County Councillor Stephen Joseph that he is to form a new group on Pembrokeshire County Council is reported elsewhere in this paper. 

In an effort to find out how much support Councillor Joseph is likely to gather, the Herald attempted to contact every county councillor to find out where they stood. At the same time, we asked each councillor whether they supported the protest scheduled for County Hall on Friday, August 8. In order to ensure each councillor had the option of declaring their position in the public interest, each of them was also sent two emails, in some cases to multiple addresses, and given two phone calls.

From the 56 councillor’s polled by this paper’s deadline, we had received just 27 replies IPPG uber-loyalist Daphne Bush hung up on our reporter, rather than answer the first question. When rung to answer the second, she hung up again. Based on Councillor Daphne’s demonstrably less than independent turn of mind, we guessed that she did not know how to answer as she had not yet been told what to say. Pearl Llewellyn was more forthcoming. She told us that she had no intention of joining Pembrokeshire First, but did say that she was more than likely to support Friday’s action. Our reporter John Vaughan soon discovered that word had got around amongst IPPG members that these questions were being asked, and it appears the advice given, within the group, was to refuse to answer the key question as to whether or not they supported their workers’ protest.

Former Cabinet member Ken Rowlands hung up when asked about Pembrokeshire First and declined to answer whether or not he supported the workers’ protest. Fellow Labour turncoat Umelda Havard was another to hang up on our reporter when asked about Pembrokeshire First and would not comment on the protest against Bryn Parry Jones. IPPG members Lyndon Frayling and Huw George offered no comment to either question. From the members that were prepared to answer these two simple and direct questions, The Herald received some very strong comments. Councillor Peter Stock said: “As a member of the Pembrokeshire Alliance, we are determined to put Pembrokeshire first, and provide a quality service that the people of our county richly deserve.

So why try to form a new group with a similar idea and objectives?” Jacob Williams responded by stating: “I am not interested in joining Pembrokeshire First. I was elected independent and I will remain independent; as an unaffiliated member.” Predictably, Michael Williams, of Plaid Cymru, claimed Cllr Joseph ‘was deserting a sinking ship’. On the protest he said: “It is a sad state of affairs when we see this type of action, and it shows the failure of the controlling group to get a grip and give some firm political direction. Firstly by suspending the CEO until the investigation is completed. Secondly by admitting their failures and apologising to Pembrokeshire Taxpayers for the continued disastrous news stories that flow from this failing Authority. “I support that staff, and I have great sympathy for them. They see their pay cut or frozen, while the CEO seems to receive huge increases in salary. It is incredible to remember that he was appointed in 1996 on a salary of £60k.

The question must be asked of those that sat on the Senior Staff committee and authorised these obscene increases.” Anthony Wilcox, from the Labour Group, made his position clear: “I have no interest myself in joining Stephen Joseph’s group/party. However, if it leads to the downfall of the current ‘bought and paid for’ mob, I welcome it.” Councillor Tony Brinsden said: “I am an Independent (dictionary definition) member and intend to remain that way. Since being elected two years ago Cllr Joseph has changed his allegiance twice so who knows where he might be in a year’s time.”

Leader of the Labour Group, Paul Miller, confined himself to speaking about the Unison protest, confirming that he would be there to show support: “The joint union ballot and demonstration is an opportunity for staff to express their view on how Pembrokeshire Council is being run. “Many staff have been badly treated in recent years having had their salaries cut, hours reduced or pay frozen. I can only imagine how it felt to find out that, at the same time, the Chief Executive had been paid an additional £45,000 in unlawful pay supplements and that the Council had bought him a Porsche. We simply cannot continue like this. “The Independent Political Group are riding roughshod over the people of this county and undermining democracy at every turn.

We must all continue to do everything we can to fight for change!’” Tory Councillor Stan Hudson, a member of the secretive council committee that voted to help Bryn avoid a potential tax liability on his seven-figure publicly-funded pension by making unlawful payments to him, and who has supported the CEO in every subsequent vote even against his own party colleagues, was far less supportive of the workers’ protest against their CEO. Instead, Conservative Stan told us that he would not support the strike as he believed it was a Labour Party publicity stunt drummed up by Labour Leader Paul Miller, arranged for the benefit of what he alleged were Councillor Miller’s union paymasters. Fellow Tory David Bryan, formerly of the IPG until knifed by the group at the last election, offered no comment on either Pembrokeshire First or on supporting the protest against Bryn Parry Jones.

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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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