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Skates makes case for rail



Rail investment inequitable: Ken Skates demands action

TRANSPORT S​ECRETARY Ken Skates has cited slow speeds, manual Victorian signalling and level crossings bringing traffic to a standstill up to 200 times a day in his call on the UK Government to make available an equitable level of funding for rail infrastructure enhancements in Wales.

In May, Ken Skates announced Cardiff University’s Professor Mark Barry would lead on the case for investment in rail infrastructure in Wales, against the backdrop of the UK Government’s £50bn investment in HS2.

The Transport Secretary summarised the case in the Senedd on Tuesday​ (Jul 17)​.

Ken Skates told Assembly Members: “The initial findings of this work are stark. Wales has not received an equitable share of UK rail investment over a sustained period, denying us the economic benefits enjoyed elsewhere in the UK.

“Network Rail’s Wales Route, which makes up 11% of the network, has received little more than 1% of total spend on enhancements in England and Wales.

“This has resulted in low lines speed on the South Wales Mainline, capacity and speed constraints along the North Wales Coast, infrequent commuter services for the Swansea Bay city region, and inadequate cross-border services in both North and South Wales.

“I continue to support HS2, but call once again on the UK Government to make the right choices to benefit north Wales, and exert pressure on them to mitigate against the probable impact of HS2 on the economy in South Wales.”

The work carried out by Professor Barry highlights the use of old, inefficient, and unreliable infrastructure constraining the number, speed, and quality of services.

“These constraints dampen demand, restrict economic growth, and increase costs to passengers and tax-payers.

“I will continue to set out a broader vision for a successful rail network. One that helps us meet our obligations to the environment, responsibilities for Well-being and Future Generations, delivers the goals of the Economic Action Plan, and meets the UK Government’s commitment to rebalance the economy.

“The work undertaken has identified direct transport user benefits of at least £2bn, generated by reducing journey times for rail passengers. Additional benefits also arise from reduced road congestion leading to environmental and safety improvements.”

James Price, Chief Executive, Transport for Wales said: “The success of the Wales and Borders rail service relies on efficient and reliable infrastructure with the ability to transport more people more efficiently. We look forward to working with the Welsh and UK governments to deliver improvements that meet the needs of passengers in Wales and across the border.”

Cardiff University Professor of Practice in Connectivity, Mark Barry said: “Wales’ railways are stuck in second gear. Long-term under-investment compared to the UK as a whole has left them unfit for purpose.

“It’s no great surprise fewer people in Wales choose to use the train than in the rest of the UK, leading to less efficient rail operations, higher subsidies per passenger and more road congestion. This is a brake on our economic growth, improvement of air quality and carbon reduction.”


The Blossoming Trend: How Same-Day Flower Delivery Services Influence Local Floristry



The popularity of flower delivery firms that operate online has skyrocketed in the past few years. They provide a convenient answer for last-minute giving and save clients precious time, which is why they have risen to prominence. You won’t have to keep asking, “Is there a same-day flower delivery near me?” 

Convenience at Your Fingertips 

The way we send flowers has changed a lot since we can now order them online. Here are some of the best reasons to use an online flower delivery service: 

  • User-Friendly Interfaces. Online sites are made to be easy to use, which makes placing an order a joy. Customers can choose the flower they want and set up delivery with just a few clicks. 
  • Wide Variety of Choices. Online delivery services have a huge collection of flowers and arrangements, unlike traditional shops that only have a few items in stock. You’ll be able to find the right gift, whether you want a classic rose or an exotic orchid design. 
  • Flexible Delivery Options. One great thing about online flower delivery is that it gives you a lot of options. With same-day delivery, you can make decisions on the spur of the moment, so you can surprise your loved ones at the last minute and celebrate important events right away.

Online flower delivery services make sending flowers easy, fun, and adaptable, which makes the whole gift-giving experience better. When you need to send a flower gift next time, think about how simple and varied these sites are.

Supporting Local Florists 

Mutually Beneficial Partnerships

Online flower delivery services often collaborate with local flower shops. Both parties benefit from this partnership. Local flower businesses can reach more customers, and online flower stores can deliver fresh flowers from florists in your area.

Economic Boost for Local Businesses

The local economy benefits from these collaborations since small shops are able to expand. These connections have been important to the success of many local florists, allowing them to reach a wider audience and ultimately increase their revenue. 

Ensuring Quality and Freshness 

In the flower business, quality and freshness are very important. Delivery services promise bright, fresh bunches by getting flowers from nearby farms. This local buying not only improves the quality of the product but also reduces the damage that long-distance shipping does to the earth.

Time-Saving Solutions 

Buying bouquets of flowers has never been easier. Shop without leaving your house or even while travelling by placing your order online. For people who already have a lot on their plates, this ease is a huge boon. 

Flower delivery services are a game-changer for urgent needs. Whether you forgot about a special occasion or want to send a spontaneous gift, these services have you covered. Countless testimonials highlight how this feature has saved the day for many customers. 

Future event planning is also quite easy. Make sure your thoughtful gift arrives on time by scheduling delivery in advance for important events like birthdays and anniversaries. 

Floral Industry Transformation 

In conclusion, same-day flower delivery is the newest fad when it comes to floral gifts. The diversity, user-friendliness, and positive impact on local florists make this decision appealing. The next time you need flowers delivered, consider using your local online florist for a lovely and stress-free experience.

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Puffin Produce wins award for one of the largest rooftop solar projects in Wales



PUFFIN Produce has installed more than 4000 solar panels, providing enough green energy to power both of its production sites on 100% self-generated electricity at peak output.

The £1.5m solar energy investment project has covered 6000 square metres of unused roof space at Puffin’s Woodland and Rosemary Lane sites in Pembrokeshire.

Generating its own green energy is a key part of Puffin’s ESG commitment, through the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi), to reduce its Scope 1 & 2 emissions by 46% by 2030 and to become Net Zero by 2040.

Running at peak output, the company expects to generate 2 MWh, enough to power its entire production and storage operations from the solar installation, saving an estimated 2.4t of CO2e per day*. That means Puffin will be able to offset most of its 3,780,000 kWh full-year usage through self-generated electricity, enabling it to hit its 46% emissions reduction commitment ahead of the 2030 target.

Puffin Produce CEO, Huw Thomas, said: “This investment reaffirms our ambition to be a catalyst of change in an industry that is a significant contributor to UK carbon emissions. With electricity being one of the key contributors to our carbon footprint, this investment in solar power is a key commitment in achieving our SBTi science-based targets. We are also pleased that we have been able to deliver the project by working closely with local specialist contractors.”

Puffin worked with Pembrokeshire-based Silverstone Green Energy and Havenkey Electrical Contractors to design and deliver the scheme while also minimising any impact on the sites’ operations. The third partner in the delivery of the project was National Grid.

The Puffin Produce and Silverstone project was recently named regional large-scale project of the year at the Wales Energy Efficiency Awards in Cardiff.

William Silverstone, of Silverstone Green Energy said: “This is the largest project we’ve worked on, and it’s evident by working with the Puffin team that they have a clear strategy, and this investment shows how much they’re committed to making it a success. Winning the award has been a fantastic recognition of the team’s hard work and dedication to delivering a top-quality install,” he said.

Puffin Produce is the biggest supplier of Welsh produce in Wales, with headquarters in Withybush and growers farming mainly in Pembrokeshire. It grows and supplies potatoes including Pembrokeshire Earlies PGI and the UK’s first carbon neutral potato brand, Root Zero alongside seasonal produce like Welsh Leeks PGI and Welsh daffodils. 

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First stage government talks save Tata jobs ‘extremely positive’



FOLLOWING high level talks this morning with the secretary of state for business and trade, Jonathon Reynolds, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our meeting this morning with the business secretary Jonathan Reynolds was extremely positive. It is clear that the new secretary of state for business understands the need to secure the future of steelmaking in Britain.

“The commitment given to achieving a sustainable, profitable UK steel industry is very welcome and as was said this morning, decarbonisation must not mean deindustrialisation.

“In recent months, Unite has been fighting to save jobs at Tata and to revitalise the UK steel industry for the future of communities and for our national security. We are at a critical first stage but the extra investment now secured and the change of attitude from this new Labour government could be the game changers in making this happen.”

Last week Sharon Graham said: Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said that Labour’s immediate commencement of talks with Tata about its UK operations offered fresh hope for steelmaking in Wales.

She said: “But make no mistake, time is of the essence – under Tata’s current plans 2,800 steelworkers could lose their jobs in a few short weeks.”

“The extra investment that Unite secured is now available and Tata needs to think again. Now we will fight for a deal with real job guarantees which ensures Welsh steelmaking has a successful future.”

Meanwhile Following First Minister’s Questions on Tuesday (Jul 9), Andrew RT Davies MS, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, said: “The lack of clarity on what can be offered for steel jobs is extending the anxiety felt across Wales.

“We’ve heard the promises that there will be a new deal and new money, but we haven’t seen any of the detail.

“Instead of grandstanding in an effort to extend his political career, the First Minister should give our steel communities hope by outlining what support will be available.”

Commenting on the latest developments at Tata Steel, including an end to planned strike action, Samuel Kurtz MS, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Economy and Energy said: “We welcome any discussions that bring both the steelworkers and Tata to the table to iron out how best jobs can be supported in the short term, as an early closure of the blast furnaces will bring additional distress to communities already dealing with enough as it is.

“The Welsh Labour government have only paid lip service to Tata’s workforce, failing to contribute a penny to the transition board, and UK Labour’s manifesto says nothing on what it would do differently to support Port Talbot’s steelworkers.”

Leader of the Welsh Lib Dems Jane Dodds said: “Tata’s unnecessarily heavy-handed approach towards this crisis has only added further fuel to the fire, and their threat to close the site ahead of schedule will do nothing to calm the nerves of those workers already at risk of losing their livelihoods.

“Our Welsh workers cannot be cast aside and treated as collateral damage, they are real people dealing with governmental negligence and abandonment. Tata’s proposed transition will result in an economic disaster for thousands of workers, their families, and the surrounding community of Port Talbot. Whilst also contributing towards a mental health crisis that could see a grave increase in risks of suicide.

“It’s not only people’s wallets at risk here but also their lives. We must have a comprehensive plan, built in cooperation with the workers, that not only provides retraining but also financial security and dignity. We cannot afford to hand Tata the keys and await the impending crash, we must act now for the sake of the community of Port Talbot.”

Greenpeace UK’s head of climate, Mel Evans, told The Pembrokeshire Herald this week: “Tata should be listening to its steelworkers, not slamming the door behind them as soon as they threaten to walk out. A better deal for green primary steelmaking is possible, and with less than one week to go until the UK elects a new and, potentially, more sympathetic government, closing the steelworks before those newly elected ministers have sat down at the negotiating table is a costly mistake.

“It will have devastating consequences for the thousands of steelworkers set to lose their jobs, for the local community, and for steel production in the UK. We need a just transition for workers in the UK, and Tata must wait for a new government to ensure that Port Talbot and its steelworkers have a safe and secure future, producing greener, cleaner steel.”

The latest comments came on Wednesday morning when Samuel Kurtz MS, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Economy and Energy said that Labour has no real plan to keep the blast furnaces open.

Kurtz told The Herald: “The Business Secretary is confirming what we already knew; that Tata are unmoveable in their desire to shut the blast furnaces and that Labour had no real plan to help keep them open.

“It must be an absolute priority for both the UK and Welsh governments to minimise the job losses, secure steelmaking and protect the supply chain and downstream industries. Because the UK Labour government are quickly finding out how much more difficult it is to govern, rather than oppose.

“The Welsh Conservative’s will support any deal that protects steelmaking, jobs and the wider community. We will wait and see if any such deal is forthcoming.”

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