WELSH CONSERVATIVES have praised the ‘transformational’ potential of the proposed tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay, following a visit to the site of the proposed development last week.
The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, and South Wales West AM Suzy Davies were taken on a boat trip around the bay on Friday (Feb 10) to explore the site of the project and to discover its potential to make Wales world leaders in renewable energy generation.
It follows the publication of an independent review, which backed the £1.3bn project. Welsh Conservatives have consistently backed the tidal lagoon, and welcomed the Hendry Report.
However, it is worth noting that this backing becomes decidedly more equivocal with increased proximity to Westminster. Responding to the Hendry Report, Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns described it as a ‘comprehensive report’ which sets out ‘both the opportunities and challenges’.
“We now need to study this report and decide how tidal lagoons could contribute to the nation’s energy needs both in Wales and the rest of the UK,” he said.
His predecessor, Stephen Crabb, was also wary of committing too publicly to a development then- Prime Minister David Cameron said enthusiasm was ‘cooling’ for. “What we want to do is take a considered decision about whether it is in the best long-term interest in terms of energy, in terms of jobs and the economy,” he told the BBC in 2016, while claiming he was still a ‘fan’ of the development.
However, following his return to the back benches, Mr Crabb gave the scheme his public backing. In a Westminster Hall debate, the Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire said: “This can’t become another third runway decision where industry makes repeated calls for a government only for it to be kicked further down the road. There is too much at stake on this occasion.”
Mr Crabb added that ‘a myth of unaffordability’ had grown up around the vision of tidal lagoons, and claimed that a minister had told him that the project was ‘eyewateringly expensive’.
It was ‘embarrassingly clear’ that minister did not understand the project at all, he told MPs.
It is now hoped that the UK Government will give the green light.
Commenting after the visit, Mr Davies said: “I am as convinced as ever that this transformational project needs to go ahead, and I’m hopeful that the findings of the Hendry Review will be the spur needed to take this project forward.
“Tidal energy holds great promise to be the most reliable and resilient source of green energy available, and the Welsh Conservatives have been supportive of this ambitious scheme since day one.
“I look forward to this project being taken forward by the UK Government.
“We have an opportunity to lead the world in the generation of non-carbon, renewable energy, whilst providing a boost to the whole of the Welsh economy in terms of jobs and investment.”
South Wales West AM Suzy Davies said: “It was wonderful to have the opportunity to visit the proposed site of the tidal lagoon.
“There is a great deal of excitement about the prospect of the first one being located in Swansea, because it has the potential to propel Wales to being global pioneers in the application of this ground-breaking technology.
“The benefits to local jobs, the economy and the future energy needs of Wales, the UK and wider world of this technology are potentially massive and I will continue to push for this project to become a reality.”
Mark Shorrock, Chief Executive, Tidal Lagoon Power, said: “Andrew, Suzy and the Welsh Conservatives have been with us every step of the way – even on a freezing February morning on the Bay! We very much look forward to now making the transition from development to delivery of a world first infrastructure project for Wales.”
Local coronavirus restrictions imposed to control outbreaks in South Wales
Coronavirus laws are being tightened in four more Welsh authorities – Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport – following a sharp rise in cases, Health Minister Vaughan Gething today announced.
The new measures will come into force at 6pm on Tuesday 22 September 2020, to protect people’s health and control the spread of the virus in the four local authority areas.
The new restrictions will apply to everyone living in Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport:
People will not be allowed to enter or leave these areas without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education;
People will only be able to meet people they don’t live with outdoors for the time being. They will not be able to form, or be in, extended households;
All licensed premises will have to close at 11pm;
Everyone over 11 will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public areas – as is the case across Wales.
From 6pm on Tuesday 22 September, the requirement for all licensed premises to close at 11pm will also be extended to Caerphilly borough.
Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:
“Following the decision to place additional coronavirus restrictions in place in Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf, we have seen a worrying and rapid rise in cases in four other south Wales council areas – Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport.
“In many cases, this is linked to people socialising indoors without social distancing. We are seeing evidence of coronavirus spreading. We need to take action to control and, ultimately, reduce its spread and protect people’s health.
“It’s always a difficult decision to introduce restrictions but coronavirus has not gone away – it is still circulating in communities across Wales and, as we are seeing in parts of South Wales, small clusters can quickly cause real issues in local communities.
“We need everyone’s help to bring coronavirus under control. We need everyone to pull together and to follow the measures which are there to protect you and your loved ones.”
The restrictions are being introduced following a rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases in coronavirus, which have been linked to people meeting indoors, not following social distancing guidelines and returning from summer holidays overseas.
The Welsh Government will call an urgent meeting of all local authority, health board and police forces from Bridgend to the English border tomorrow to discuss the wider situation in South Wales and whether further measures are needed across the region to protect people’s health.
The new local restrictions measures will be kept under regular review. They will be enforced by local authorities and by the police.
Keep Wales safe by:
Always keeping your distance
Washing your hands regularly
Working from home wherever you can
Following any local restrictions
Following the rules about meeting people
Staying at home if you or anyone in your extended household has symptoms.
Julie James AM attends the launch in Swansea of new research on benefits of Community Led Housing
JULIE JAMES AM, Minister for Housing and Local Government, attended the launch at Down to Earth in Swansea of new research from the Wales Co-operative Centre, with support from the Nationwide Foundation, which found that residents who live in community led housing (CCLH) experience improved mental wellbeing and happiness, as well as improved skills development.
Over 50 residents from 22 community led housing schemes across Wales and England were interviewed. The top benefits that residents highlighted were:
Residents felt less isolated, being surrounded by a supportive network
• Improved mental wellbeing and happiness
• A better quality of life with the potential for skills development and increased levels of confidence, as well as a better financial situation
• Wider benefits to the community including a reduction in antisocial behaviour and greater community collaboration
• Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, said of the research: “We were really pleased with the research findings and the range of softer benefits that residents have seen. As well as the expected financial benefits, there is a much wider impact on mental wellbeing and skills development which is great to see.”
Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James AM, said: “I have been overwhelmed in hearing the benefits residents gain from living in community-led housing. The difference tenants feel in terms of improved skills, increased confidence and improved mental wellbeing to name but a few – demonstrates why community-led housing can, and should be part of the solution to the housing crisis we face here in Wales. Building more affordable housing and providing people with safe, warm and secure homes is a key priority for this Welsh Government. I’m looking forward to watching community-led housing grow and flourish – and contribute towards our commitment to building 20,000 affordable homes during this Assembly term.”
Lib Dems slam ‘botched’ scheme
THE WELSH Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservative Government for their “hapless treatment” of EU citizens after the Home Office released guidance on the new EU Settlement Scheme.
The Home Office has confirmed that for the duration of the trial period, until 30 March, EU citizens applying to stay in the UK must either use an Android phone or travel to one of 13 ‘document scanning’ centres instead.
For Holyhead, the closest ‘document scanning’ centre is Trafford.
According to an analysis by the Welsh Liberal Democrats, EU citizens travelling from Holyhead would face costs of £55 on the train for at least a six and a half hour round trip. The drive would be a 224-mile round trip costing around £56 in fuel.
The only document scanning centre in Wales is in Caerphilly. Travelling from Pembroke to Caerphilly and returning the same day by rail would cost £32.10 (the cheapest available fare at the time of enquiry), the cheapest off-peak fare from Aberystwyth would be £77.10 return. By car at an average of 40mpg, the cost of travel would be at least £27 to and from Pembroke, while from Aberystwyth the cost would be at least £25. Both car journeys represent round trips of over 180 miles.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said: “Too many people in Wales are deeply anxious about their right to stay. Many of them fill vital roles in the health service, our schools and the tourism sector. They want to register as soon as possible, but Theresa May’s hapless treatment of EU citizens could result in a new Windrush scandal.
“For anyone who doesn’t have an android phone, this botched scheme means they will have to travel. For people in Holyhead, that means facing a 224-mile round trip and paying over £50 for the privilege. This postcode lottery is simply unacceptable.”
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey MP said: “Following significant pressure, the Prime Minister said there will be no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay. How long did that commitment last?
“It is Conservative Ministers who have made a mess of Brexit. They should either pay the cost for EU citizens or change the application system and ensure EU citizens are made to feel welcome in the UK.
“Ultimately, the best way to avoid all of this mess is by giving the people the option to remain in the EU with a final say on Brexit.”
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