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UK Government rejects Swansea Tidal Lagoon investment

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THE UK GOVERNMENT has pulled the plug on the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project in a move described as a vote of ‘no interest in Wales, no confidence in British manufacturing and no care for the planet‘.

Having delayed its announcement until after crucial votes on Brexit in the House of Commons, the Government announced the news just ahead of a vote on a third runway for Heathrow, which could be seen as trying to bury bad news.

An announcement on the tidal lagoon project had been strung out by the Westminster government, the project having first been mooted to David Cameron’s ‘greenest ever government’ in 2011 and subject to a statutory consultation in 2013.

The first of its kind in the world, the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon would have produced enough energy to power 150,000 Welsh homes for 120 years, sustain over 2,000 construction and manufacturing jobs in Wales, and support as many as 311 industrial and manufacturing businesses along the supply chain.

It would have delivered £8 million in tourism revenue, and required more than 100,000 tonnes of steel, much of which would come from the Port Talbot steelworks, with further jobs downstream making the component parts.

In early 2017, a review led by former Conservative Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change Sir Charles Hendry, endorsed the scheme’s construction.

Since then, however, there has been near silence from Theresa May’s government.

The decision to refuse funding comes 11 months after Theresa May intervened personally to cancel the promised electrification of the rail line between Swansea and Cardiff and has led to allegations that both the Prime Minister and her government know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

The decision was made in spite of an offer from the Welsh Government to invest heavily in the £1.3bn project and interest from the trustees of the Welsh Local Government Pension Funds in supporting it by investing pension funds into the project.

A statement from the UK Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to Parliament claimed that: ‘The inescapable conclusion of an extensive analysis is that however novel and appealing the proposal that has been made is … the costs that would be incurred by consumers and taxpayers would be so much higher than alternative sources of low carbon power, that it would be irresponsible to enter into a contract with the provider’.

However, the arithmetic used by the UK Government – a claim that it would add £700 to the cost of household electricity bills between 2031 and 2050 – while eye-catching, is the equivalent of 67p a week.

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Gigabit broadband voucher scheme boost for Wales

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THE UK’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme is to be given a boost in Wales thanks to a new partnership between the Welsh and UK Governments. Ministers from both Governments are now urging Welsh businesses and communities to apply for the funding to get gigabit speeds.

The announcement follows an agreement between the UK and Welsh Governments, and reflects the higher costs of deploying fibre infrastructure in Wales, as a result of the country’s topography and the location of premises.

The UK Government’s Gigabit broadband vouchers – worth up to £2500 – are currently available to small businesses and surrounding local communities to contribute to the installation costs of a gigabit-capable broadband connection.

Under the new arrangements, the Welsh Government will provide an additional £3,000 for businesses up to a certain size and an additional £300 per residential property. This means that for group* projects in Wales up to £5,500 is available per business, compared with £2,500 elsewhere in the UK. Up to £800 will now be available per residential property in Wales, compared with £500 elsewhere.

Deputy Minister for Economy Lee Waters said: “Although the vast majority of premises in Wales can now access superfast broadband, we are working hard on assisting the remaining five per cent that cannot access it and where commercial companies have no plans to reach. There is no one size fits all solution to reach the final premises, and the Gigabit Broadband Voucher scheme is an important part of a suite of measures to achieve this.

“This voucher scheme can provide a vital funding source for group connectivity projects, and could be of great benefit to communities currently without access.
I’m pleased we’ve been able to work with the UK Government to provide an enhanced scheme for Wales, taking into account the particular challenges we face here with geography and the location of premises.”

UK Minister for Digital Margot James said: “This exclusive scheme for Welsh businesses and communities is a vital part of our modern Industrial Strategy and build a Britain that is fit for the future. Working with the Welsh Government, together we can make sure that everyone in Wales has the connectivity they need for the digital age.”

The voucher scheme forms part of a package aimed at improving connectivity in Wales. The Welsh and UK Government funded £200 million Superfast Cymru programme has already taken superfast broadband speeds to more than 733,000 Welsh homes and businesses commercial companies had no plans to cover. The Welsh Government is also investing a further £22.5 million to reach an additional 26,000 premises and the UK Government is introducing a Universal Service Obligation** that will make fast broadband a legal right for every home and business in Wales by 2020.

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Rescuers attend to injured construction workers in New Dock Street

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A MULTI AGENCY rescue operation is underway in Llanelli involving all three emergency services after an incident at a construction site.

Workers have been at the New Dock Street site, working for around three years, The Herald understands.

The Herald has been told that a piece of plant malfunctioned causing the emergency, which happened earlier this evening (Mar 19).

Four fire engines and three ambulances are at the scene, our reporter said.

A specialist line rescue team is involved in the recovery operation.

An eye-witness told the press that three workers have been affected.

The source said: “Concrete had just been mixed and had been poured into a skip which was then lifted using a machine. The concrete was being lowered into the hole, it’s probably about 20ft and then the machine toppled over.”

He added: “Two men climbed out of the hole on their own and as a precaution the third man was told to stay down there. The workers were told to leave the site as a precaution.”

At least one person has been seen being taken away in an ambulance.

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Llanelli: Met Bar incident investigated

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AN INCIDENT which resulted in a 51-year old man having to go hospital is being investigated by Dyfed-Powys Police.

The man has been discharged from Glangwili Hospital but police are looking in to how the incident happened and how the man fell down some steps.

The incident happened outside the Met Bar in Llanelli on Saturday night (Mar 16).

A spokeswoman for Dyfed-Powys Police told the Herald: “At approximately 10.55pm on Saturday March 16, officers responded to reports of an injured man outside The Met Bar, Station Road, Llanelli, after he’d fallen down some steps at the location.

“Ambulance was at scene, and the 51 year old man was conveyed to Glangwili Hospital with what was thought to have been a serious head injury. He was then later discharged from hospital, and the head injury was no longer believed to be serious.”
Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact police by calling 101 and quoting DPP/3011/16/03/2019/02/C. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908

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