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Plan to increase resilience to coastal fl ooding

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Still Shocking: Images from last years’ storms.

Still Shocking: Images from last years’ storms.

A DELIVERY plan to make Wales more resilient to coastal flooding was launched on Monday (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 fl ooding, 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 fl ooding or came close to fl ooding during last winter’s storms. For example, local improvements have been made for areas that fl ooded 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 fl ood plans for fl ood 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 fl ood forecasting. Preparatory work for a major coastal fl ooding exercise in March 2015.

Publication of the assessment of environmental change experienced during the storms. 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 fl ooded 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 fl ooding – 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 fl ood 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 fl ooding 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 fl ood 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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Green hydrogen electrolyser and car refueler arrive at Milford Waterfront

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL says it is leading the way in renewable energy with a collaborative £4.5 million project exploring the vital role hydrogen could play in a decarbonised energy future.

Milford Haven : Energy Kingdom (MH:EK) is a two-year ‘detailed design’ project, completing in 2022, exploring what a renewable energy based Smart Local Energy System could look like for the Milford Haven Waterway – including the concept of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (HFCEV).

The aim is to gather detailed insight into the whole energy system around the Waterway, looking at how to make, using and distributing hydrogen financially viable within the different energy sectors of buildings, industry, power and transport.

The MH:EK team will investigate the potential of local renewable energy, including solar, onshore wind, future offshore wind and biomass for decarbonised gas transition.

One element of the project involves a consumer trial of two Riversimple ‘Rasa’ HFCEV’s. The MH:EK team is building a green hydrogen electrolyser and refueler on Milford Waterfront – and this will be used to produce green hydrogen on site to fuel the two trial HFCEV’s.

The project will demonstrate the practical application of hydrogen technology. The aim is to test the feasibility of two hydrogen powered Rasa cars. They will be built by Welsh company Riversimple, and operate as fleet cars in and around the Haven.

Pembrokeshire County Councillor Cris Tomos, Cabinet Member for the Environment and Welsh Language, said: ‘We welcome the progress made by the partnership, particularly in view of recent news that new petrol and diesel cars will not be sold in the UK after 2030. This innovative approach will help us to switch to a low carbon future and promoting sustainable transport as we respond to the climate change emergency.’

Work is underway and should be operational for the trial in July. A hydrogen-ready smart hybrid heating system is also being designed and will be installed and tested in an operational Port building.

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Council’s building maintenance teams to resume non-emergency responsive repairs

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THE HOUSING Building Maintenance teams within Pembrokeshire County Council are now able to re-commence non-emergency responsive repairs to customers’ homes around the County.

Lockdown has prevented tradesmen and women from entering homes to carry out anything other than emergency repairs for many months but the PCC Contact Centre is now able to take calls from customers to request a non-emergency service in their homes once more.

The Contact Centre receives around 38,000 building maintenance related service requests each year and even throughout lockdown Building Maintenance have proudly maintained a 99.2% success rate in responding to emergency repairs within 24hours since restrictions came into force.

Covid has caused a large disruption to the service and while the authority is now in a position to re-open phone lines to routine responsive repairs, a delay in providing that service is inevitable as the backlog is worked through but the authority is working hard to meet the demand.

Backlog is likely to take several months and is dependent on a number of factors including the numbers of repair requests received, availability of materials and contractors.

PCC currently employs 64 tradesmen and women directly and has a considerable number of contractors on its framework to undertake a wide range of maintenance works and Building Maintenance are in the process of tendering a New Minor Works Framework.

All maintenance employees and contractors will continue to work under strict guidelines in people’s homes to ensure that all safety and social distancing measures are adhered to.

The Housing Building Maintenance service is also in the final stages of implementing ‘Repair Finder’ which will enable Contact Centre staff to diagnose the faults in customer’s homes far quicker and more accurately than before, which will in turn ensure that Building Maintenance are better informed and resourced ahead of arriving at the property to carry out the repair.

This is expected to reduce the length of calls to the Contact Centre and subsequently reduce call-waiting times.

The ‘Repair Finder’ tool is expected to be available later in the year and will soon offer residents direct access to an online version which will enable them to report responsive repairs themselves.

Once trialled and released, service requests can be logged by the tenant via the Council’s ‘Housing Online’ portal.

When residents report a problem within their home via the Call Centre or ‘Repair Finder’, they will receive text message alerts informing them of the timescales within which they can expect the repair to be made.

Cabinet member for Housing, Cllr Michelle Bateman said: “We’re under no illusion that lockdown measures have caused a major disruption to the building maintenance service.

“We’re receiving new requests now on top of those that have been on standby during the Covid restrictions. Pembrokeshire residents have shown tremendous patience and understanding of services that have been stretched throughout the crisis so we’re counting on their ongoing support and we hope they appreciate that it will take a period of time to get back to where we were.

“People can be assured that we are working very hard to bring back the outstanding levels of service we provided before Covid and it’s things like ‘Repair Finder’ that will help make this possible going forward.

“With one in every six employed people in Pembrokeshire working for the local authority, it’s important to remember that we are very much in this together”.

If you wish to report a repair to your home you can call the Contact Centre on 01437 764551.

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Leader’s update: Keep doing your bit to prevent Covid-19 spreading

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THE LATEST from the Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, Cllr David Simpson.

Hello everyone, I hope you have had a good weekend and enjoyed some of the lovely weather we have had.

Pembrokeshire is beautiful in all weathers but there’s nowhere quite like it when the sky is totally blue and the sun shining. Fingers crossed for more lovely weather this summer.

Let me firstly apologise for the late message this week but our focus has been working hard on the situation with a cluster of Covid-19 cases in Tenby.

It is not a surprise that we are starting to see a rise in cases following the easing of restrictions but the cluster of 22 confirmed cases as of yesterday (Monday) shows just how important it is for us all to keep following the rules to prevent further spread.

Council Leader, Cllr David Simpson (Pic PCC)

Our Test, Trace and Protect teams have worked tirelessly to contact close contacts and break the chain of infection in a complex situation.

Working closely with Public Health Wales and Hywel Dda University Health Board we have now got a mobile testing unit in place at the Salterns Car Park in Tenby.

The full address is Salterns Car Park, Marsh Road, Tenby, SA70 8DU.

If you have symptoms of Covid-19 – even if you have had the vaccine – please arrange to get a test.

Previously, only those with either a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss/change of taste and smell, were advised to seek a test.

But across Pembrokeshire, people with any of the following wider symptoms that are persistent and/or unusual for should also get a PCR test:

  • Mild summer cold type symptoms – including sore throat, runny nose, headache
  • Flu-like symptoms, including myalgia (muscle ache or pain); excessive tiredness; persistent headache; runny nose or blocked nose; persistent sneezing; sore throat and/or hoarseness, shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Generally feeling unwell and a history of being in contact with a known Covid-19 case
  • Any new or change in symptoms following a previous negative test

If you have any of the above symptoms, please stay home and book a test by calling 119 or through the UK portal https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

There are also a series of walk-in clinics for both first and second doses of the vaccines continuing this week.

See Hywel Dda Health Board on Facebook for more information.

As you will know, the First Minister on Friday set out further information on the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

Mr Drakeford paused further plans to relax restrictions as cases rise across Wales.

This should underline just how important it is for us all to maintain social distancing, keep washing hands regularly, meet people outside whenever possible and wear face coverings where required.

All these things work to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

We’ve all worked so hard to get to this point, let’s not let it slip now.

Stay safe everyone.

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