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School to benefit from ‘Pupil Offer’

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Huw Lewis

Huw Lewis

A CONTROVERSIAL plan for a multi-million pound wind farm in Powys has been scrapped by a power company in a move welcomed by anti-turbine campaigners. Scottish Power are ditching proposals for a £64m wind farm at Dyfnant Forest, at Lake Vyrnwy, after working on the proposals for six years. Company chiefs said the reasons were the length of time for the planning process and a need to modernise the grid, for pulling the plug on the project to build 35 x 600ft wind turbines there. The company had said the scheme would have provided power for up to 65,000 homes. Campaigners had protested against the plans with concerns over the damage to tourism.

Simon Christian, UK Managing Director of Scottish Power, told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Unfortunately, with anticipated lengthy planning processes and major grid modernisation required, we are not confident the project can be delivered in a time frame that would make it financially viable for us. “We are currently seeking to replace our turbines at Llandinam in Mid Wales, and we await a planning decision following a lengthy Public Inquiry. We have decided to focus our onshore wind efforts in Wales on this project.

“We have been an active wind power developer in Wales since 1992, and we hope that our association with renewable energy in the country will continue for many years to come.” Concerns had been raised by residents it could have harmed the horse-riding tourism there, where there was a network of trails. Scottish Power had said the development of 35 turbines of up to 185m – costing around £2m per turbine – would have a generating capacity of up to 120 megawatts (MW). Glyn Davies, Conservative MP for Montgomeryshire, has welcomed Scottish Power Renewables’ decision.

He said: “It is a wonderful Christmas present for the people who live near Lake Vyrnwy and who share my love for the wider Dyfnant Forest area. Scottish Power Renewables’ plans were in my opinion ecologically and environmentally disastrous for a beautiful part of mid-Wales.” The scrapping of the scheme throws Pembrokeshire’s potential as a mecca for green energy projects into sharp relief.

There has been a massive increase in the number of applications for wind turbine construction in Pembrokeshire in recent years. There has also been increasing public opposition to wind turbine developments which disfigure previously unspoiled rural vistas. While smaller developments abound, larger developments that have been occasionally mooted have not progressed very far.

A look at the number of proposals for wind turbine construction in Pembrokeshire reveals that until 2012 there were very few applications indeed. Between 2007 and the end of 2014 in excess of 450 developments have applied for planning consent from the local authority including wind turbine or wind farm provision, the vast majority of those made since the beginning of 2012.

Those developments have ranged from the controversial single turbine slated to provide energy to Prince’s Gate Water in Tavernspite, to the current wind farm proposal at Rhoscrowther that ties into extant infrastructure from the nearby refinery. The tension between the Council’s need to protect Pembrokeshire’s tourism offer and to obtain even short term jobs in an area of high unemployment is perhaps best demonstrated by reference to the conduct of one planning committee member from the local authority.

Herald readers will recall the tale of the proposed wind turbine development at Mathry that was opposed by everyone but Council planning officers. That planning committee member refused to inspect the location of a proposed development near Mathry, despite being transported to the site at public expense. His conduct suggests that some councillors take their planning duties lightly.

One member of the planning committee, Cllr Brian Hall, has even been alleged to have canvassed local support for a controversial scheme to burn oil waste on reclaimed land that needs to be raised above the level of an existing flood threat identified by Natural Resources Wales before construction can take place. Ambitious solar farm projects have received approval from the Council’s planning officers and Pembrokeshire’s importance to the Welsh Government’s green energy policy is highlighted by the Welsh Government’s endorsement of a plan to build a biomass power plant on the Blackbridge site.

Ambitious schemes to harness the power of the tide are also well underway. Invented by Pembrokeshire engineer Richard Ayre, the DeltaStream device is the first project to receive precautionary ‘deploy and monitor’ environmental consent in a designated Marine Special Area of Conservation’, having incorporated a number of design features to minimise any potential impact on the surrounding environment. An extensive suite of monitoring equipment will be installed on and around the device in Ramsey Sound. The £3.5m of public money announced to cushion the blow of the Murco takeover deal’s collapse, could be used to seed smaller enterprises focussed on supporting or developing the nascent green energy sector in our county.

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Brand new features unveiled at Scolton Manor Park

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ONE of Pembrokeshire’s best-loved family destinations has announced it will be unveiling several new attractions in June, ready for the summer holidays.  

Among the new features at Scolton Manor are an eco-explorer village, a 1.2km woodland cycle track, an outdoor pirate ship play area and a dedicated railway attraction complete with steam train locomotive ‘Margaret’ and ‘Scolton Express’ play train.

Mark Thomas, manager of Scolton Manor Park, said the team were looking forward to showing visitors the new attractions.

“We’re delighted with our new facilities and believe they will perfectly complement the attractions we have here already at Scolton,” he said.

The woodland eco-explorer village aims to give children more opportunities for outside play and spark their enthusiasm to discover more about the natural world.  

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Culture and Leisure, said the village is perfect for all young explorers from toddlers right through to older children.

“Children love playing outside and we want to inspire them through their play to not only find out more about biodiversity and the environment but also how to care for it,” he said.

“As well as eco-explorer areas, games and activities there will be fun tips on how they can reuse, reduce and recycle more and protect the environment.”

The eco-explorer village is funded by a £50,000 grant from the Landfill Disposals Tax Community Scheme and £25,000 grant from Community Facilities Programme (Welsh Government), in partnership with the Pembrokeshire Beekeepers’ Association.

Mark Thomas said the current attractions at Scolton have also proved very popular since the outdoor areas at the park re-opened to the public earlier this spring.

As well as an adventure play area for older children which includes a 30-metre zip wire, a spinning climbing web and ‘super swings’,  younger visitors can enjoy the wooden playground, sensory musical play area and woodland play features.

“The many and varied attractions at Scolton enhance its role as a community facility while providing a wide range of countryside experiences at a lower cost,” said Mark.

“The new features in particular will also help to continue the development of the site into a must-visit tourist attraction within mid and North Pembrokeshire.”

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Public engagement exercise over new hospital between St Clears and Narberth

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HYWEL DDA is asking the people of Pembrokeshire to help it further shape and deliver future services by taking part in a six-week engagement exercise.

Since the publication of its strategy, A Healthier Mid and West Wales: Our Future Generations Living Well in 2018, the health board has worked with partners to provide care and develop services. However, the coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on health and care services. As a result, the health board now wants to learn from the public about how the pandemic has affected their health and care, and access to it.

This week, Hywel Dda UHB has been distributing a discussion document for the public to consider, along with a questionnaire for completion.

Hywel Dda UHB is also asking for the public’s feedback in relation to its long-term strategy to develop and build a new hospital in the south of the Hywel Dda area, somewhere between and including St Clears, in Carmarthenshire, and Narberth, in Pembrokeshire.

This location is the most central for most of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area, and it was determined through the public consultation held in 2018.

The public is also being asked to nominate sites for a new hospital based four criteria:

The nominated site must be within the zone between and including St Clears in Carmarthenshire and Narberth in Pembrokeshire. This location is the most central to most of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area.

The nominated site should be a minimum of 35 acres of reasonably developable land.

The nominated site should have realistic prospects of obtaining planning permission for a new hospital.

There should be appropriate transport infrastructure for a major hospital site.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “The global pandemic has had a major impact on all areas of our lives so it’s crucial that the health board considers, reflects and learns from this extraordinary period. This engagement exercise will allow the public to tell us in their own words how COVID-19 has affected their health and care, and access to it.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to participate because the feedback we receive will play a major role in helping shape future services. This in turn will allow us to deliver on our long-term commitment for a healthier mid and west Wales.

“I would also stress that this engagement exercise is part of an ongoing process. Over the coming months and years, we plan to engage with the public, stakeholders and partners on a wide variety of issues, such as service models. Everyone will have their chance to give their views and opinions because we are committed to continuous engagement with the public to ensure we provide the best possible care.”

The engagement exercise will run until Monday June 21.

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Paul Sartori taking action to support climate with National Lottery grant of nearly £14,000

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LOCAL hospice at home charity, Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, is taking action to support the climate with the installation of solar panels at its main head office in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.

The charity which delivers end of life care services across Pembrokeshire, has been awarded a grant to fund the purchase and installation of solar panels at Paul Sartori House, Winch Lane. This investment is part of an ongoing commitment to address the climate emergency and the charity joins many others who are taking action. Paul Sartori was one of 35 community groups, who were selected to take part in the Climate Action Boost scheme, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

Working alongside Renew Wales, a partner in the initiative, the group explored methods to help tackle the causes and consequences of climate change, and to operate more sustainably. A number of options were discussed to reduce their impact on the environment and Renew Wales helped the charity to develop an environmental action plan, which is to be implemented over the coming months. The scheme available to cover a variety of environmental reduction activities, including renewable energy, reducing consumption, local food and reduced or less impactful travel.

Paul Sartori Hospice at Home wouldn’t normally be associated with environmental activity. Through regular consultation over many months, the charity has been really encouraged by what they have learnt.

“We have invested a lot of time in developing the plan; discussed a number of alternatives along the way, but feel that the solar panel installation will have the biggest impact for the charity in the long term”, said Sandra Dade, Charity Manager. “The National Lottery Climate Action Boost has really inspired our charity to minimise our impacton the environment and we will continue this journey,” added Sandra.

Jemma Nurse, Funding Manager at The National Lottery Community Fund said, “The climate emergency is everyone’s business, which is why The National Lottery Community Fund is acting to support and inspire communities to minimise their own impact on the environment. We are proud to be a significant funder of environmental projects and Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, along with the other groups participating in Climate Action Boost, will play a valuable part in building our knowledge so we can share our learning with other funders across Wales and the UK.”

The services provided by the Paul Sartori Hospice at Home enable people in the later stages of any life-limiting illness to be cared for and to die at home with dignity, independence, pain free and surrounded by those they hold most dear, if that is their wish.

All of the services are free of charge, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thanks to the generosity of the Pembrokeshire Community. Further information on the charity and its services can be obtained by visiting their website www.paulsartori.org, or by phoning 01437 763223.

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