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Egnedol: ‘Proof will be in the pudding’

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A PUBLIC consultation was held by Egnedol on Thursday (Feb 18) in Milford Haven. The company promised to bring to the table an ambitious which it claimed would bring hundreds of millions of pounds into the Haven.

If Egnedol’s plans get the go ahead, the biomass plant at Blackbridge will be the biggest of its kind in the world. However, Egnedol has no track record of either building or running such a plant.

Mark Evans of Pembs TV conducted an exclusive interview with Egnedol’s director, Steve Whitehouse. The Herald pointed out that a far smaller plant in Newport is up and running and it has had numerous problems with health and safety breaches – even fire.

The Herald asked Mr Whitehouse, how Egnedol would succeed where others have failed.

Steve Whitehouse told us: “We’re using a very large South African company. They’re used to building biomass plants, and energy plants petro-chemical facilities around the world. It’s a large global company.

“We’re using them to provide us with a design, build, maintain, operate contract. So, they’ll be responsible for completing the details design of the plant, for building the plant, operating and maintaining it, using local people.

“They’ve just completed a large project in South Africa which we’ve checked the details of, so we’re quite confident. All we’re really doing is providing the facility, the cash and linking in with other technologies, so that they can come along and help us to operate this.

“So, it’s not our own staff actually, that’s going to be operating this facility. We’re going to be taking on local people who will be managed by a South African firm.”

The Herald also asked about the trees that are going to be used at the plant, which will be coming from plantations in Morocco and Greece. However, the website of the company says they’re still waiting for permission to plant in Greece and have no current plans to plant in Morocco.

When asked where the pellets will come from, Mr Whitehouse said: “We’ve got two options. They’re called option agreements – they’re legal agreements – with landowners in Greece and landowners in Morocco, so subject to getting permission and taking the project forward, we’ll be planting these plantations at that point.

“We’ll also be bringing in some wood from WDF, which 50% of our feed stock will come from that, which will be locally sourced, probably from Wales and other parts of the UK.”

When asked to explain about the emissions of the wood, as to whether or not they are chemically treated, Mr Whitehouse responded saying: “When we consume the wood, we consume it in a process called gasification, so the wood particles are heated up to a high temperature, which breaks down the molecules of the wood into smaller molecules, and we control that process so that we make methane, carbon monoxide, hydrogen – things like that.

“Then that gas we’ve made is called a syngas – it’s a synthetic gas. We clean that, go through several cleaning processes, because, we have to get it to a very clean state in order to inject it into normal gas engines – big German gas engines.

“So, it has to be very very clean before it goes into that gas engine. So if you can imagine the gas engine is then consuming a clean gas, the emission from that goes from the engine, goes through a catalytic converter and goes through an oxidation process – the same as it would on a car, and then it goes up a stack.

“So, the actual emission is just a normal emission that you’d get from consuming gas. Just carbon dioxide, things like that.”

A statement by Gareth Chubb, Director of The Friends of the Earth was put to Mr Whitehouse. Mr Chubb had said that the people of Pembrokeshire won’t like being “guinea pigs” for an unproven technology with uncertain risks to human health, and said: “We’ve never seen a successful venture of this nature in the UK.”

When asked how he felt about those comments, he replied: “The technology choice is still under close review. We’ve chosen what we think is the best gasification technology that is currently available – it’s been through a very detailed due diligence process, with one of the largest insurance companies in the UK called Marsh, in London.

“All of their technical experts – which are world experts, they’re not just local UK experts – have looked at the process. Studies have been done by large UK and European consultancies; they’re all happy with the technology, and that’s why we can attract the funding.

“Marsh, actually, are happy to underwrite its process, underwrite its operation, time and all of those sorts of issues, so we’ve gone through a very rigorous due diligence process with the technology.”

Mr Whitehouse concluded: “You know, the proof will be in the pudding really, once we get funding and build it. That’s where the proof will be.”

The Herald spoke to Mayor of Milford Haven, Cllr Stephen Jospeh regarding Egnedol’s plans, to see what his thoughts were. He said: “It’s very difficult, but anything that can help the economy is good.

“We’ve got to look on the positive side. Of course, we’ve got to make sure it’s safe. There’s lots of different impressions, and I wouldn’t for a minute pretend I know who has conducted these studies, but I hope it works because the benefits are huge.

“We need to keep an eye on the environment and if it is how they say it is. However, just because it hasn’t worked for other people, doesn’t mean it won’t work for them.”

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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