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Wales aims to meet 100% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2035

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CLIMATE Change Minister Julie James has this week (Tuesday, January 24) published a consultation on ‘ambitious but credible’ targets for Wales to meet 100% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2035.

Wales is already making good progress on previous targets set in 2017 and, already, generates 55% of our electricity from renewables.

Today, the Minister proposed Wales sets a target for at least 1.5 GigaWatt of renewable energy capacity to be locally owned by 2035, excluding heat pumps.

There is also a target for 5.5 GigaWatt of renewable energy capacity to be produced by heat pumps by 2035 but this is subject to scaled up support from the UK Government and reductions in the cost of technology.

Climate Change Minister Julie James said: “Our previous targets signalled our high ambitions for renewable energy and this Government’s desire to move away from a use of, and reliance on, fossil fuels.

“However, the climate crisis shows that we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. Providing new targets compels us to stride towards Net Zero as quickly as we realistically can.

“The evidence is clear that towards the end of this decade we will need to rapidly ramp up our generation of electricity to meet our energy needs.

“The renewable energy target proposals that we are consulting on today are ambitious, but credible.

“I am very pleased that they propose a pathway for us to meet the equivalent of 100% of our annual electricity consumption from renewable electricity by 2035, and to continue to keep pace with consumption thereafter.”

The Minister stressed that Wales’ infrastructure and supply chain would be key to hitting these revised targets and went on to reveal details of £1m funding to explore the potential of offshore wind.

This grant will be match funded by Associated British Ports for preparatory work to enable future floating offshore wind projects to deploy from Wales.

The Minister added: “This investment signals, to both the industry and the UK Government, Welsh Government’s commitment to the floating wind sector. It also provides important funding for the infrastructure that we will need to deliver floating wind to meet our ambitions.

“Of course, this is not the end of our support, and we will continue to work closely with Port Talbot, Milford Haven Port Authority and colleagues in the Celtic Sea Alliance to maximise the benefits from floating wind to Wales.”

Andrew Harston, Regional Director, Wales & Short Sea Ports added: “Associated British Ports warmly welcomes this early-stage support from Welsh Government to help kick start the development of a major green energy hub at Port Talbot. This support is key to the construction of transformational infrastructure, which will enable the manufacturing, integration and assembly of floating offshore wind components at Port Talbot.

“The roll-out of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity for South Wales to lead a global market and will play a major role in contributing to Wales and the UK’s net zero targets. By doing so it will support and create thousands of long-term, high-quality jobs.

“As the gateway to the Celtic Sea, and with unique capabilities and natural advantages, this support will help position Port Talbot at the heart of these emerging green technologies and industrial decarbonisation.”

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Milford Haven: Police investigating sexual assault

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POLICE are investigating an incident of sexual assault which occurred in Hakin, Milford Haven.

Milford Haven Police say that the alleged incident took place in Croft Avenue on February 7, 2023 at around 19:50hrs.

If anyone is able to give any information regarding this incident please ring 101 quoting reference DPP/0956/07/02/2023/02/C.

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Pembrokeshire County Council faces less bleak finances than previously expected

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL faces a less bleak financial position than had previously been expected, to the tune of nearly £10m, members of a schools committee have heard.

At the February 6 meeting of the Schools and Learning Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance Cllr Alec Cormack, presented outline draft 2023-’24 budget proposals to members.

He told members an updated draft budget was to be reported to the February meeting of the council’s Cabinet after a previously feared funding gap of £28m was now smaller, at £18.6m, due to a higher settlement from Welsh Government.

An expected 3.5 per cent settlement ended up being 7.9 per cent, which meant some expected cuts were now unlikely to happen, he told committee members.

“A large number of the most severe cuts are now very, very unlikely; we’re now looking at a deficit of £18.6m, it’s not as severe as it was.

“The officer team is looking at how that funding gap could be closed with budget savings and with different levels of council tax.”

Members heard the budget is expected to be addressed through an increase in council tax – potentially in the area of 7.5 per cent – along with significant cost reductions.

Director of Resources John Haswell said: “It was a better settlement, but still an £18.6m gap; this isn’t a one-year issue, this is an issue over the medium-term plan, over £50m over the four-year period.”

He said that Pembrokeshire, having the lowest council tax rates in Wales, meant that each potential percentage increase returned less than other local authorities.

Members heard papers listing the latest budget proposals for Cabinet discussion are expected to be released soon, in advance of the February 13 meeting.

Members agreed to defer making any recommendations to Cabinet, pending the release of the revised papers.

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Welsh Freeport competition heats up with Senedd vote

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ON WEDNESDAY, the Senedd will hold a debate regarding freeports as the competition for UK and Welsh Government funding nears its conclusion.

Currently, three bids are in from across Wales for a chance to benefit from £26 million of direct UK Government funding, as well as reduced taxes for businesses in the freeport area. A Welsh freeport could see up to 16,000 jobs created and further investment or the local area into the billions.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Economy, Paul Davies MS said:

“Benefits of a freeport cannot be understated, bringing much needed jobs and investment into some of the most deprived areas of Wales.

“The UK Government put the challenge to Wales to submit exceptional bids, and Wales has delivered.

“All three bids would help to transform their local communities in different ways. It’s essential that the UK and Welsh Governments work together to deliver that second freeport for Wales, maximising the opportunities that these bids have to offer.”

The three Welsh Freeport bids are:

  • The Celtic Freeport (covering Pembrokeshire to Neath) which has estimated that it would create over 16,000 new jobs and up to £5.5 billion in new investment.
  • The Anglesey Freeport would support up to a £1 billion contribution to UK GDP by 2030, while also creating up to 13,000 new, high salary jobs in Ynys Môn.
  • The Newport Freeport (including Cardiff Airport) is aiming to increase non-passenger revenues to 50%, ending their reliance of passenger generated income.

The UK Government stated that “if a truly exceptional proposal were presented at the bidding stage” than a second freeport would be funded.

The Welsh Conservative debate reads:

To propose that the Senedd:

1. Recognises the opportunities for freeports to energise the Welsh economy, create high quality jobs, promote regeneration and investment.

2. Notes that three bids from Wales have been submitted for consideration by the UK and Welsh Governments.

3. Calls on the Welsh Government to work with the UK Government to deliver two freeports in Wales, recognising the truly exceptional proposals submitted and the transformational benefits they can deliver for the Welsh economy.

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