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UK’s Energy Capital maps out low carbon vision in Wales

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THE MILFORD HAVEN WATERWAY FUTURE ENERGY CLUSTER, supplying 20% of the UK’s annual energy demand, maps out a vision to drive a 30 year multi-billion pound investment platform to deliver a secure, resilient, low carbon future.

The Milford Haven Waterway Future Energy Cluster, representing the UK’s energy capital, has outlined a vision for a low carbon future at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.

The Cluster – a coalition of energy companies, renewable developers, green technology innovators, Pembrokeshire County Council and the Port of Milford Haven – outlined how their plans will play a pivotal role in enhancing the wellbeing of future generations and in helping the Welsh Government achieve a just transition to net zero in Wales.

The Senedd reception – sponsored by Senedd Members Samuel Kurtz, Joyce Watson, Cefin Campbell and Jane Dodds – was attended by more than 100 people from across business, academia, government and politics in Wales.

The Cluster’s plans include a pathway to support at least 20% of the UK’s hydrogen production target and 10% of the Celtic Sea Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW) target by 2030. Continued utilisation, adaptation and innovation in the Haven will also support the development of low carbon liquid fuels, CO2 shipping, marine renewables and energy storage.

The Milford Haven Waterway Future Energy Cluster also demonstrated to political stakeholders and industry representatives how its whole energy cycle solution has a pivotal role to play in supporting an accelerated transition while stimulating substantial economic growth in Wales.

Early economic analysis undertaken for the Cluster by Cardiff Business School indicates that its vision could add an additional 3,000 Welsh jobs to the 5,000 already supported by the Milford Haven Waterway energy sector.

To deliver this vision and unlock substantial international private sector investment, the Cluster called on Welsh and UK Governments, National Grid, The Crown Estate and OFGEM to support the future success of this critical national energy asset by:

  • Expanding South Wales’ Grid capacity by 10GW by 2030
  • Implementing a fast-tracked consenting regime
  • Backing a Celtic Freeport bid
  • Introducing mechanisms to de-risk the Celtic Sea FLOW opportunity
  • Backing a South Wales FLOW infrastructure bid
  • Supporting the Milford Haven Waterway SuperPlace ambition, including both blue and green hydrogen
  • Supporting prioritisation of South Wales in National Grid’s Project Union
  • Supporting a BEIS Cluster Sequencing Track 2 bid
  • Incentivising the production and use of low carbon fuels
  • Backing Skills Accelerator and Supply Chain Accelerator programmes.

Speaking on behalf of the Haven Waterway Future Energy Cluster, Tom Sawyer, CEO at the Port of Milford Haven, said:

“By the 2040’s the Milford Haven Waterway aims to be a significant exporter of low carbon electricity and hydrogen, and a globally recognised example of a low carbon, smart energy system fully capable of supporting society’s energy needs reliably, cost effectively and with significantly reduced emissions.

Playing our vital role in the transformation of the energy industry with its consequent investment in green jobs will help Wales reach net zero. We will help deliver the just transition that the Welsh Government and politicians across the spectrum wish to see.

We’re delighted to have had the opportunity to share our plans to create around 3,000 jobs in Wales. We’ll be investing in green skills in our local communities and creating new career opportunities for future generations.”

Samuel Kurtz, MS for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire welcomed the Cluster’s vision, saying: “The Haven Waterway has long played a key role in the hydrocarbon industry, including oil and gas. With the focus turning to the fuel, energy and technologies of the future, the waterway has a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of some exciting developments, such as floating offshore wind and hydrogen production.

“Highlighting these opportunities, and the jobs that will be created in Pembrokeshire is paramount if we are to unlock our potential and see our communities thrive. I’m pleased to champion this in the Senedd and urge us all to get behind these renewable projects.”

Cefin Campbell, Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd for Mid & West Wales said: “I welcomed the opportunity to co-sponsor this event at the Senedd, promoting the vast potential the Haven Waterway poses in delivering a low carbon future which enhances the well-being of future generations and delivers against Welsh Government’s Net Zero and Energy strategies.

South-west Wales has the potential to become a global leader in a green energy revolution – delivering huge economic and social benefits for the local communities. I look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders to grasp these significant opportunities and fulfil such ambitions.”

Chris Williams, Head of Industrial Decarbonisation for Industry Wales and SWIC Lead added:

“The Milford Haven Waterway Future Energy Cluster will play such a vital role in decarbonising industries in South Wales. Milford Haven has the ability to supply SWIC industries with huge amounts of low carbon power, fuels, hydrogen and CCUS infrastructure that will support our industries by developing the infrastructure they will need to make things in a net zero way. This development is so important to providing a ‘just transition’ for south Wales and the Celtic Freeport bid is essential in accelerating this hugely important initiative.”

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Pembrokeshire castle mentioned in Mabinogion may halt chalet plans

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Plans for 12 new lodges at a Pembrokeshire holiday park are expected to be refused, in part due to concerns about the impact on a historic castle associated with the Mabinogion.

James Powell, of Brookside & Castlewood Holiday Park, Narberth is seeking permission for 12 self-catering lodges, and associated works, as an extension of the existing park, on the outskirts of the town.

The application is recommended for refusal when it comes before Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee, meeting on April 23.

A report for committee members says: “The application site is prominent and open to view in the wider landscape. The greater part of the existing Holiday Park is located to the south of the application site within a wooded valley and hidden from wider view. It is also located outside of the defined Settlement Boundary of Narberth. Public Rights of Way (PRoW) pass to the north and east of the site; and to the south through the Holiday Park.”

Narberth Town Council has objected due to the loss of  public right of way to Tabernacle Lane, Narberth.

The report adds: “The applicant has advanced a case that the proposed development should be assessed [against policy] on the basis that the holiday units are not caravans and that the application site is well related to Narberth by virtue of a public footpath that the connects the site with Castle Terrace/Market Street at the southern end of the town.”

However, officers have disputed the units should be treated as buildings, saying: “The submitted designs clearly illustrate timber clad static caravan units.”

Heneb (formerly Dyfed Archaeological Trust) has objected, considering the impact on the castle and conservation area have been “underplayed,” and the council’s Historic Buildings & Conservation Officer says the impact on the castle and conservation area would be ‘Very High’ and ‘High’ respectively.

Natural Resources Wales has also raised “significant concerns,” saying: “We note foul water disposal is proposed via connection to a pre-existing system, rather than connecting to the mains sewer. However, the site is within a sewered area. The installation of private sewage treatment facilities within publicly sewered areas is not normally considered environmentally acceptable because of the greater risk of failures leading to pollution of the water environment compared to public sewerage systems.”

The report, outlining the reasons for refusal, concludes: “It is apparent that some economic benefit will derive from the proposed development, but the applicant has not sought to quantify it.

“However, it is also apparent that the proposed development will have negative social impacts in terms of access for people with disabilities; and negative environmental impacts in terms of landscape character and appearance, historic assets, and the Afon Cleddau SAC.”

The castle in the Pembrokeshire town of Narberth – now twinned with the Shropshire town of Ludlow – is mentioned in the Mabinogion as the place where Rhiannon, mother of hero Pryderi, was imprisoned when her newborn child is abducted, and she is accused of infanticide.

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1,000 thefts a day: Labour calls for more support for high streets

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SHOCK analysis by the Labour Party has revealed more than 1,000 shoplifting offences are being committed across England and Wales every day – equating to an offence almost every minute of the day.

Yet separate Freedom of Information requests submitted by the party to police forces suggest that charges have fallen by a quarter over the past five years.

Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Mid and South Pembrokeshire, Henry Tufnell, was out visiting local businesses in Tenby last week (April 19) to hear about the challenges presented by shoplifting and anti-social behaviour.

Henry Tufnell, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Mid and South Pembrokeshire, said: “Pembrokeshire relies upon local businesses to grow our local economy, support jobs, and drive tourism. Today’s stats are clear: the Conservatives have lost control.

“Labour has a plan to ensure our town centres are a safe, enjoyable place for Pembrokeshire residents to spend time in. Coupled with the Welsh Labour Government’s Transforming Towns scheme, which will provide £27 million by 2025 in South West Wales towards funding projects to regenerate and support our town centres, Labour’s priority is breathing life back into our high streets.”

Philippa Thompson, Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Dyfed Powys Police, joined with members of the Co-operative Party and USDAW, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, to campaign for stronger protections for retail workers.

Today’s announcement comes shortly after the UK government finally committed to introduce a new offence for assault of a retail worker, which Labour, the Co-op and USDAW have called for, for more than a decade.

Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Dyfed Powys Police, Philippa Thompson, said:

“A Labour Government in Westminster means we’ll see more police on the streets, a crackdown on anti-social behaviour, and on retail crime. As a Labour & Co-operative Party candidate, today I am campaigning with USDAW to strengthen protections for retail workers against the assault and abuse they face at work.

It has taken the Conservatives ten years to heed what Labour, the Co-operative Party and USDAW have been saying, and introduce a specific offence for assault of a retail worker. The Tories have run out of steam and run out of ideas, and it’s time for a change. Only Labour can deliver that change.”

Since September, Labour has been calling for the Tories to scrap their Shoplifter’s Charter, which is leaving criminals to steal with impunity.

The rule, brought in by Theresa May in 2014, introduced a new category of ‘low-value shoplifting’ to describe theft of goods worth under £200 and has led to police deprioritising enforcement in these cases – even where there are repeat offences or organised shoplifting. This has left businesses and retail workers at the mercy of criminals.
 
Alongside removing the Tories’ £200 rule, Labour has vowed to put 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs back on the streets and introduce a Community Policing Guarantee to tackle shoplifting.

Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said: “Under the Tories too many communities and high streets are being blighted by staggering increases in shoplifting, but charge rates are going down. That means more criminals are getting away with it and more local businesses are paying the price.
 
“The Conservative government has decimated neighbourhood policing, leaving our town centres unprotected, and they are still refusing to get rid of the £200 rule, which is encouraging repeat offending and organised gangs of shoplifters.
 
“Labour will scrap the Tories’ Shoplifter’s Charter and bring in a Community Policing Guarantee, with 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs to crackdown on shoplifting and keep the public safe.”

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Call to keep tipi wedding venue where guests are ‘greeted’ by alpacas

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A RETROSPECTIVE call to keep a 160-person wedding venue tipi, where guests are greeted by alpacas, teddy bear sheep and Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, is expected to be turned down by Pembrokeshire planners next week.

Mr R Lloyd and Ms C Davies are seeking permission for the retention of a seasonal wedding events venue with the siting of a tipi and formation of ancillary parking area on land next to Redberth Gardens, Redberth, near Tenby.

Members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee, meeting on April 23, are recommended to refuse the retrospective application for the ‘Serenity Garden’ tipi venue, erected in August 2023.

Serenity Garden, on its website, says the tipi offers a “very special wedding venue, set in the heart of the Pembrokeshire countryside,” with “friendly resident alpacas, teddy bear sheep, goats, ducks and Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs” greeting guests.

The site says the tipi offers “an enchanting setting for wedding feasts and dancing,” when lit at night by twinkling lights.

A planning statement supporting the application says it is anticipated that there would be approximately 15 wedding events during the season; the venue open 11am-11pm Monday –Saturday.

Concerns about the application have been raised by nearby St Florence Community Council, which said it was disappointed at the retrospective nature of the application, and that no details of a pond associated with the scheme were on the plans, with no drainage details, and a need to consult with Public Protection on potential noise control.

Seven letters of concern from the public were also raised, on issues including the potential impact on local residents, no site notice, added traffic, no local benefits, security concerns, and claims that bookings and deposits are already being taken for events.

A report for planners states: “The tipi comprises four interlinked sections with a height of 3.5 metres. The tipi has canopy openings to the east elevation facing towards the access path which meanders from the car park area to the north. A car park area has been formed along the northern part of the site and is accessed via an internal road which serves adjoining holiday lodges.

“Whilst the tipi is described as a temporary structure, it would have a level of permanence in that it would be erected in early April and remain on site until the end of October to minimise the effort of dismantling it after each planned event.”

It concludes: “The proposal represents an unjustified form of development in a countryside location. In addition, the application fails to include sufficient information to demonstrate that the suitable drainage infrastructure can be incorporated into the site, that noise levels would not have a detrimental impact on local amenity and that biodiversity would be protected and enhanced.”

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