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Plan to increase resilience to coastal flooding

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The storms and associated coastal conditions on 5 December 2013 and 3-6 January 2014 reached a level and ferocity not seen in Wales for many years.

The storms and associated coastal conditions on 5 December 2013 and 3-6 January 2014 reached a level and ferocity not seen in Wales for many years.

A DELIVERY plan to make Wales more resilient to coastal flooding has been launched today (Jan 5) by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

Since the devastating storms that hit communities along the coast of Wales 12 months ago the priority has been to repair and restore defences damaged in the storms.

The delivery plan issued today outlines how the 47 recommendations made by NRW in April 2014, following an in-depth review into the impacts of last winter’s flooding, are being implemented. It details progress to-date and what more needs to be done, by all the organisations involved.

Five of the actions have already been completed with work on another 35 well under way, including:

Ongoing work to evaluate improvements at locations around the coast of Wales which either experienced flooding or came close to flooding during last winter’s storms. For example, local improvements have been made for areas that flooded in Rhyl, with work ongoing to evaluate longer term options.

  • The Welsh Government has launched its consultation on ‘Flood and Coastal Investment Programme’, which looks at how future investment in defences should be prioritised.
  • Continued work developing flood plans for flood risk communities through NRW’s Flood Awareness Wales programme, including signing up a further 1,156 people to the free Floodline Warnings Direct service.
  • A permanent offshore buoy deployed off the Pembrokeshire coast to improve flood forecasting.
  • Preparatory work for a major coastal flooding exercise in March 2015.
  • Publication of the assessment of environmental change experienced during the storms.
New plan: Improvements will include a permanent offshore buoy deployed off the Pembrokeshire coast to improve flood forecasting.

New plan: Improvements will include a permanent offshore buoy deployed off the Pembrokeshire coast to improve flood forecasting.

Work on the remaining seven recommendations will begin in January 2015.

The storms in January 2014 caused millions of pounds worth of damage, hundreds of homes and businesses were flooded and even the natural environment and landscape of Wales were changed.

But although the storms were devastating in many places, the existing coastal defences protected around 74,000 properties from flooding – avoiding an estimated £3 billion of damage.

Also today – as part of the commitment in the plan to sustain investment in defences – the Welsh Government announces £1.9m towards a new flood defence for Rhyl. The funding marks the final phase of the coastal defence scheme which, once completed, will mean a reduced flood risk to over 2,600 homes and businesses in the area.

On a visit to Garford Road and West Rhyl coastal defence scheme, Carl Sargeant, the Minister for Natural Resources, said: “This term of Government will see over £245 million of Welsh Government investment in flood and coastal erosion risk management, supported by an additional £50 million from Europe. This demonstrates our commitment to protecting communities by managing the risks of flooding.

“I’d like to commend Natural Resources Wales, who have today published their delivery plan to take forward the recommendations contained within the Coastal Flooding Review. I am pleased to be able to announce an additional £150,000 of funding for NRW in the next financial year to assist in progressing the recommendations. I look forward to continuing to work with them and relevant organisations across Wales to ensure that we do all that we can to mitigate against the effects of flooding and keep our communities safe”

Jeremy Parr, Head of Flood Risk Management for NRW, told The Herald: “Although we are 12 months on from the storms which affected so many communities in Wales, people still continue to feel their impact.

“And with the risk of coastal flooding likely to increase in the future due to climate change we are likely to see more extreme weather like this in the future so we all have to understand that increased risk and how we can prepare for when it happens again.

“The aim of this delivery plan is to make further improvements to the support to communities before, during and after a flood, working together with local authorities, the Welsh Government, emergency services and responders and with communities.”

The delivery plan focuses on six areas: Sustained investment in coastal risk management, improved information on coastal flood defence systems, greater clarity of roles and responsibilities of agencies and authorities, assessment of skills and capacity, more support to communities to become more resilient, delivery of locally developed plans for coastal communities.

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Welsh Guards sergeant shot dead during Castlemartin live-fire training exercise

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A BRITISH ARMY sergeant was killed on Thursday night (Mar 4) in a shooting accident at Castlemartin Training Area, The Herald can confirm.

The solider was training with live ammunition, ahead of a planned deployment to Iraq this summer.

Five police cars and an ambulance were seen screaming through Pembroke towards the incident at approximately 10pm towards the incident.

A coastguard helicopter, CG187, was scrambled to the scene, and hovered near Bosherston for a while, but was stood down and returned to base.

The Herald has contacted the MOD for a comment, who said: “It is with great sadness we can confirm the death of a soldier on the 4th of March.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.

“The circumstances surrounding this death are being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

THIS STORY IS UPDATING

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Pembrokeshire County Council bills Home Office for Penally camp costs

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THE COUNCIL has sent an invoice for more than £80,000 to the Home Office.

It is to cover some of the costs that the local authority has incurred in connection with the Penally Asylum Seeker Centre, near Tenby.

Following a question on the issue from Cllr Jonathan Preston at Full Council the Council have confirmed that a bill has been sent.

The Member for Penally ward asked: “Please can the relevant Cabinet Member provide a breakdown of all costs to this authority which have been incurred in providing staff, services and other associated resources to Penally camp since its re-purpose by the Home Office last September?”

Council leader Cllr. David Simpson confirmed that on February 22 Pembrokeshire County Council submitted an invoice for £83, 858 which includes £65,564 in staff costs, £12,799 of specialist support and £5,495 for works such as barriers.

Pembrokeshire County Council is currently awaiting payment, the Authority confirmed.

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Hospitality sector welcomes Budget boost

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IT HAS been so long it seems since we could stand at a bar and enjoy a well-earned pint, but now we are on the road back to normality, the Herald has spoken to some of those in the hospitality sector who have been asked to close. We wanted to know what the owners in businesses in these sectors locally thought of the budget and if Rishi Sunak had done enough to help them.

We first spoke to a Milford Haven restaurant business. Owner of Martha’s Vineyard in Milford Haven, Dan Mills said that the budget was not a silver bullet to fix all problems but said that the budget had gone a fair way to delivering what many in the Pembrokeshire hospitality sector have been calling for in recent weeks.

Dan Mills said: “The biggest risk many of us were facing was the cliff edge of a VAT increase, the end of the Furlough Scheme and a return to full business rates, I’m pleased that the Chancellor has recognised this and taken action on all fronts.

“With talk of the Welsh Government restricting us to outside trading for an initial period, the flexibility that the Furlough Scheme brings will be a huge help to ensure staff retain their jobs.

“I was also delighted to see that the Chancellor has provided funding to Wales to ensure that we benefit from a further 12 months of Business Rate Relief here in Pembrokeshire, that’s money that many of us can instead invest into restarting our businesses.

“I hope that the conversation that unfortunately began due to Covid between politicians and the Pembrokeshire hospitality and tourism sector can continue long beyond this crisis, it seems that through some open and honest feedback we are making real progress.

Award winning gastro-pub The Griffin Inn is well known throughout Wales and has received many national reviews. Their reputation puts them in a strong position once they are allowed to re-open. We spoke to Sian and Simon Vickers about the budget.

Simon Vickers, co-owner is also a director of Visit Pembrokeshire. He told The Herald: “I think the budget was very positive for the hospitality industry with the reduction in VAT being the biggest help.

“Overall I feel the government have supported the industry amazingly

In regard to tax on alcohol, Simon said: “Duty has been frozen It would have been nice to have seen a cut in it. Whether there’s a cut or not the breweries always increase their prices so in all honesty it never affects us.”

The ongoing financial support has been welcomed by industry group CAMRA, The Campaign or Real Ale, but the organisation said that the Chancellor had missed the opportunity to lower beer duty to save our pubs.

Their national chairman Nik Antona issued a statement to The Pembrokeshire Herald saying: “Freezing alcohol duty is obviously better than a rise. However, CAMRA had hoped to see the Chancellor announce a cut in duty on beer served on tap in pubs and social clubs to benefit consumers and help the great British pub recover and thrive in the difficult months and years ahead by being able to compete with supermarket alcohol.

“The Government’s commitment to review alcohol duties in the coming months is welcome. CAMRA will continue to call for a lower rate of duty for beer served in pubs – an option available to the Government now we have left the European Union.

“Reducing tax on beer served in pubs and social clubs would encourage responsible drinking in a supervised, community setting – as well as boosting jobs and local economies, helping consumers and benefiting pubs and licensees.”

On financial support announced, Nik commented: “Cutting VAT as pubs begin to reopen, and reducing it until April next year, means they can now start benefiting from that cut – but CAMRA believes this VAT cut should be extended to alcohol so that traditional locals that don’t serve food can benefit too.

“The extension of furlough until September and new grants of up to £18,000 are very welcome. However, pubs are unlikely to be able to fully reopen at pre-COVID trading levels due to outside space and then table service only indoors. The beer and pubs sector will need further support over the coming months, over and above new loans, to help them get back on their feet until there is a full and proper re-opening and they can trade at full capacity.

“Extending the business rates holiday until the end of June will help keep the wolves from the door for many English pubs, with the two-thirds reduction for the rest of the financial year a welcome step. However, given how tough it will be for many pubs we believe the 100% cut in business rates needs to be extended for a full 12 months as has already happened in Scotland.”

Picture: Simon Vickers, Griffin Inn, Dale

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