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Wales welcomes UK’s continued participation in Horizon Europe

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WALES’ Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething has welcomed the news the UK will have continued access to Horizon Europe, the EU’s flagship €100 billion research and innovation programme.

The announcement by the UK Government today that the UK will become an associate country member of the programme, a move the Welsh Government had pressed for during Brexit negotiations, means Welsh scientists, universities and businesses will have continued access to the programme.

The move means organisations will be able to continue bidding for funding under the programme in the same way as EU member states.

Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe’s predecessor, has provided a platform for Welsh researchers and businesses to take part in projects worth over €2.5 billion, involving 81 countries and bringing grants worth €153 million to Wales to date.

Throughout EU-UK Brexit negotiations, the Welsh Government made clear that the UK Government should negotiate full access to Horizon Europe.

Running until 2027 with a budget of around €100 billion, Horizon Europe is the largest ever transnational programme supporting research and innovation, underpinning Europe’s ambitions as a world leader.

The programme, run by the European Commission, supports vital and pioneering research, and provides a major opportunity for Wales to remain an active and influential partner internationally, increasing the nation’s attractiveness to talent, and the effectiveness of its research.

The Welsh Government encourages Wales-based researchers and innovators to develop applications, and for organisations around Europe to take advantage of the UK’s Associate Country status in order to work with Wales’ leading scientists, businesses, public sector and civil society.

The Welsh Regional Investment Framework highlighted the need to deliver a step change in cross-border and international working, empowered by regional investment.

While the UK Government has denied the Welsh Government any access to replacement EU funds and left Wales £1.1bn short through its Shared Prosperity Fund, the Welsh Government continues to support international and cross-border working through its Agile Cymru programme.

Minister for Economy, Vaughan Gething, said: “Today’s announcement has been a long time coming. Continued participation in EU programmes was a clear message in the Welsh Government’s priorities for the future UK/EU relationship, and we have consistently pressed for this outcome. The delay in confirming associate membership for the UK has caused unnecessary alarm in the sector, which could and should have been avoided.

“Our continued participation in the Horizon programme will give Welsh universities and businesses the opportunity to join with their peers around the world to push the boundaries of science and tackle the biggest challenges faced in Wales and globally, such as Climate Change and recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales, Professor Jas Pal Badyal FRS said: “This flagship EU programme offers an important platform to demonstrate Wales’ position as an outward-looking scientific nation which is committed to the highest level of research and innovation, working in close collaboration with partners across Europe and the rest of the world.

“Following today’s welcome news, I strongly encourage organisations in Wales to renew their relationships with their international networks with a view to bidding into Horizon Europe. Our European partners can be reassured by the eligibility of UK partners and coordinators.

“Wales has unique expertise in many domains of research and innovation and there is much to be gained by working together on shared challenges.”

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Lifeboat rescues yacht stranded on rocks off Pembrokeshire coast

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A LOCAL lifeboat was called into action yesterday afternoon, May 26, after a 40-foot yacht became stranded on rocks off the Pembrokeshire coast. The incident occurred at Horse Rock, Ramsey Sound, at low tide.

At 2.38pm, the St Davids all-weather lifeboat was dispatched following a request for assistance. The French vessel, which had three people on board, had struck Horse Rock. Fortunately, the yacht was freed without sustaining any damage by the time the volunteer crew arrived.

In a statement posted on their Facebook page, RNLI St Davids Lifeboat reported: “St Davids all-weather lifeboat was requested to launch at 2:38pm on Sunday 26th May to aid a 40-foot yacht stuck on rocks in Ramsey Sound. The French vessel, with three people onboard, had hit Horse Rock at half tide. The volunteer crew were soon on scene and found the yacht had managed to free itself without damage.”

The lifeboat crew conducted a thorough assessment to ensure the safety of both the crew and the vessel. Once it was confirmed that everything was in order, the yacht was able to continue its journey to Fishguard Harbour. The lifeboat then returned to its station.

This successful rescue highlights the vital role of the RNLI and its dedicated volunteers in ensuring the safety of those navigating the challenging waters around the Pembrokeshire coast. The quick response and professional handling of the situation by the St Davids lifeboat crew ensured a positive outcome for all involved.

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Second row Max Douglas becomes latest Scarlets signing

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THE SCARLETS say they are delighted to secure the signature of highly-rated Australian forward Max Douglas.

The 24-year-old has just completed his second season with the Yokohama Canon Eagles in Japan.

Before his move to the Japanese top division, the 6ft 7in Douglas, who has played in the second row and back row, featured for the Waratahs in Super Rugby and the Manly club in Sydney.

He will link up with the Scarlets in the summer.

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said: “Max is a young, athletic second row who has experience in Super Rugby and more recently in Japan’s top division.

“He is comfortable with the ball hand, which suits how we are looking to play and is excited about coming on board and being part of the Scarlets journey over the coming years.

“Max is another strong addition to our forward pack following the signings of Marnus van der Merwe and Alec Hepburn and we are looking forward to welcoming him here to Parc y Scarlets this summer.”

Max Douglas said: “I’m really excited to be joining the Scarlets. This is a club with a strong history and I’m excited at the challenge of trying to contribute to that.

“I’m looking to bring over some of the experiences and learnings I’ve gained from my time in Australia and Japan to hopefully add to what is a really strong playing group.

“I can’t wait to meet all the players and staff and get into our work.”

Douglas is the Scarlets’ fourth signing to be announced ahead of the 2024-25 campaign with Exeter Chiefs prop Alec Hepburn, Toyota Cheetahs hooker Marnus van der Merwe and Nottingham full-back Ellis Mee on their way to West Wales.

Tongan second row Sam Lousi, Wales internationals Tom Rogers and Harri O’Connor and back-rowers Dan Davis and Ben Williams have also signed new contracts with the club.

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Brawdy space radars campaign launched over safety fears

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A CAMPAIGN group, fighting against proposals to for a deep space radar dish array in north Pembrokeshire has been launched, saying it would be one “of the most health-hazardous military installations ever proposed anywhere in the UK”.

The UK/US military plans for a 27-dish Deep Space Advanced Radar Concept (DARC) at Cawdor Barracks, Brawdy is part of AUKUS, a three-way security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States to build three DARC radar installations around the world, one in each of the three countries.

The radars would track foreign countries’ communications and military satellites in space, so that British, US and Australian aircraft could then destroy them with anti-satellite missiles at will.

Pembrokeshire Herald report from December 2023

A scoping report was submitted to Pembrokeshire County Council early last year, as reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, which said DARC would track active satellites some 22,000 miles above the Earth.

That application stated: “The Ministry of Defence has a duty to protect the UK national interest around the world. This includes the Space Domain, which offers both the UK and its Allies an important strategic advantage, but also emerging threats and vulnerabilities that need to be monitored.”

It added: “As part of the ongoing investment into this domain, the UK is working with its allies to identify a location for a new deep space monitoring facility to protect and defend its interests.
“An area of brownfield land at Cawdor Barracks has been identified as one of the potential locations for the delivery of the installation.”

It added: “The Deep-space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) is a United States Space Force (USSF) led programme that aims to set up three geographically dispersed radar sites to increase global Space Domain Awareness with the UK and Australia being offered to host one of the three sites.”

Cawdor Barracks is currently the headquarters of the 14th Signals Regiment, which is due to relocate from 2028. Late last year, Cawdor was identified as the preferred UK site, with the-then UK Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps.

It was said that retention of the base for DARC would create up to 100 jobs.

The DARC scheme would be subject to an as-yet unsubmitted planning application.

A new campaign group, PARC Against DARC has been officially launched today, May 29, hoping to stop the scheme, describing the proposals as the proposals are “one of the most health-hazardous, tourism-ruining, skyline blighting military installations ever proposed anywhere in the UK”.

PARC Against DARC, which is to is to host a public launch meeting at Solva Memorial Hall at 7pm on June 27, has asked: “When did Dewisland, Pembrokeshire or humankind ever vote for the US military to control all of space?”

PARC (Pembrokeshire Against Radar Campaign) was originally set up back in 1990 when the US Military unsuccessfully attempted to build a similar radar installation on the Dewisland peninsula, north Pembrokeshire.

The revamped 2024 operation already has support from groups including Welsh and UK organisations such as CND and Stop the War Coalition, as well as individual supporters.

One of them is Keith Griffiths, architect and owner of Roch Castle, Twr y Felin and Pen Rhiw Priory known collectively as the Retreats Group, who said the scheme “will be a huge eyesore to the National Park and of no economic benefit locally”.

“Any new use should benefit the local economy and respect the beauty of the surrounding Pembrokeshire Coast National Park,” he added.

More detail in this informative Youtube video

A spokesperson for PARC Against DARC said: “The fight is on. We fully intend to win the battle to stop the radar as they did in the 90s. The MOD are making out as if it’s just a formality to gain planning permission for this huge project, even insinuating in their press that they just need to ‘run it past the local parish council’ or such like.

“This is simply not the case; we know that major infrastructure projects like these require specialist planning permission which can only be granted by Pembrokeshire County Council, and that there will be several environmental impact assessment stages they’d have to clear long before they could ever begin building.”

“Our plan is to fight them at every level and on every front to make absolutely sure that these proposals are never passed by our elected representatives in County Hall.

“We will build on the strong history of the previously victorious campaign and echo all of its strengths & successes. Last time there were huge rallies, marches and demonstrations and ultimately the entire county stood strong together to fight off the proposals.

“We are absolutely confident that we will create this avalanche of opposition once again so that these plans will never see the light of day.”

The campaign group has also launched a change.org petition webpage and an online crowdfunder page, along with social media pages.

Identifying Cawdor as the preferred site last year, Grant Shapps said: “As the world becomes more contested and the danger of space warfare increases, the UK and our allies must ensure we have the advanced capabilities we need to keep our nations’ safe.”

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