The Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James has welcomed the latest Ofcom Communications Market Report published today which highlights the progress of superfast broadband in Wales.
The report finds that Wales has the highest availability of superfast broadband of any of the devolved nations, with nearly four in five (79%) of premises now able to access it. Fixed broadband take-up and internet take-up are also up, along with tablet ownership among adults.
Ofcom concludes the increase is largely due to the roll-out of the Superfast Cymru programme – the partnership between Welsh Government, BT and the UK Government which is bringing superfast broadband to areas which would otherwise not receive it.
Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James said:
“Fast and reliable internet connections are vital. That is why the Welsh Government is committed, through the Superfast Cymru programme, to bring faster broadband across Wales.
“The programme has made tremendous progress and I’m very pleased the latest Ofcom Communications Market Report has highlighted this today showing that 79% of premises are now capable of accessing superfast broadband.
“Superfast Cymru is a challenging programme, with BT engineers often working in difficult conditions, but it is delivering results.”
Socially distant but always on duty – using technology to catch waste criminals
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is using high-tech surveillance techniques to tackle unscrupulous waste operators seeking to take advantage of the Coronavirus crisis.
Government guidelines on social distancing mean NRW officers are unable to use their usual investigation methods. As such, they have turned to sophisticated drone technology and satellite cameras to help in the tracking of waste criminals.
The new approach includes:
• Using drone footage to investigate illegal waste disposal.
• Participating and benefiting from research and tools created in partnership with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency through the Life SMART Waste Project.
• Trialling the use of satellite imagery obtained from the European Space Agency, as well as high resolution commercial satellite data.
• Adrian Evans, head of NRW’s Tackling Waste Crime initiative, explained:
“Social distancing is impacting on how companies supplying goods and services operate and waste criminals are taking advantage of this.
“We have had to modify our ways of working by developing technological solutions to support our work and ensure that waste operators comply with environmental regulations.
“This technology will ensure the environment of Wales is protected for the people who live here and for legitimate waste operators who abide by the rules and work in a responsible manner.
”Those hoping to exploit the lockdown restrictions to commit waste crime should think again. We have the capability and technology to continue to identify and pursue those that flout the law.”
This type of surveillance is already underway in south east Wales, where NRW and Gwent Police are using drones to investigate illegal activity.
PC Matt Andrews, who, as part of Gwent Police’s Rural Crime team, is the embedded officer with NRW and assists the South East Wales Operations team in tackling all types off illegal activity, said:
“During lockdown our waste team continues to have close communications with permitted waste sites, but we’ve also strived to find alternative ways to having boots on the ground.
“Drone work has helped us investigate illegal activity in remote locations while adhering to the social distancing guidelines.
“For example, the imagery can be used to identify the extent of illegal tipping on land which would normally take two NRW waste officers to physically investigate.”
The public and businesses can help by reporting any suspected illegal waste activity on our hotline 0300 065 3000.
Police and Crime Commissioner reveals plans for proposed new Policing Hub and Custody Suite
POLICE and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn has revealed planning application documents for the proposed construction of a new Policing Hub and Custody Suite for Dyfed Powys Police, to be built at land west of Heol Aur, Dafen, Llanelli.
The new build is to be an ambitious sustainable construction, with a BREEAM excellence rating. BREEAM related developments offer more sustainable environments that enhance the well-being of the people who live and work within them, and help protect natural resources.
Amongst some of the sustainable credentials of the new build will be a photovoltaic solar power installation to minimise the carbon footprint of the building; a rainwater harvesting facility for toilets and non-potable water, and electric car charging facilities.
Earlier in 2019, Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn approved a decision to pursue the purchase of a council-owned site in Dafen, valued at £150,000, for the purpose of constructing the new Policing hub.
Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said; “This is a major investment for us which will see an ambitious, modern, sustainable fit for purpose policing hub and custody suite that will meet the needs and expectations of modern policing.
“We are still very much in the early stages in terms of the planning permission process, but I’m pleased to have reached this point in the process. I’ve worked extremely hard with partners over the last couple of years to get to this position, and to announce and make public the initial planning application documents for the proposed new construction”.
As well as the planning consultation documents, proposed building plans and supporting documents have also been made available as part of a pre-application public consultation period. The consultation provide those who may be interested in the proposals with an opportunity to view the draft application package and express their views.
Usually, all planning consultation and application documents would be available to the public at their local library and online. However, due to current circumstances with government enforcing social distance measures due to COVID-19, libraries within the local area are closed. As such, anyone who wishes to view the application package are able to visit Asbri Planning’s website to view all documents; www.asbriplanning.co.uk/statutory-pre-application-consultation, or to contact their office on 02920 732652.
Public consultations on planning applications usually last for 28 days, but due to the current circumstances, the consultation period has been extended by five working days to 35 days, to account for any delays associated with the circumstances.
Dafydd Llywelyn said, “All these planning documents have now been made available for public consultation. I encourage local residents in Llanelli and the wider community to obtain the planning application pack from agents Asbri Planning, and should they wish to submit any comments, they can do so by writing formally to colleagues at Asbri.”
The new Custody Suite will be one of seven custody locations across the force area with others located in Newtown, Ammanford, Brecon, Cardigan, Aberystwyth and Haverfordwest.
Chief Inspector Richard Hopkin, Dyfed-Powys Police’s operational lead on the new build, said: “We feel very fortunate to be having a new build custody suite and hub coming to Llanelli.
“Our current Llanelli estate is old, so to see a new build that is being designed with such consideration for the environment and the wellbeing of our staff and the community within which it sits is really positive.
“This build will not replace the existing presence of our neighbourhood team in Llanelli town centre, but will enhance the service across the town and the wider communities.”
Once planning is granted, the aim is to complete the construction of the new build within a period of two years.
Heddwyn Thomas, Director of Estates at the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner at Dyfed Powys said, “The development will provide a fit for purpose future proof solution which will complement the town centre Neighbourhood Police Team base. This process brings us another step closer in the delivery of the new facility.”
Stay at home this Easter, urges First Minister
WALES’ First Minister and emergency services are calling on the people of Wales to stay home and respect social distancing this Easter holiday. The call comes as warm weather is predicted, sparking fears people will venture out of their homes.
The letter from First Minister Mark Drakeford is signed by Wales’ emergency and health services and council leaders, as well as the Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.
Health minister Vaughan Gething and chief medical officer Frank Atherton join the NHS, the police, fire and ambulance services, charities, councils and voluntary organisations as signatories to the letter.
It reads: “As the Easter bank holiday approaches, we have one message for everyone. Stay home and save lives.
“Our public services are working around the clock to care for and keep people safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Frontline workers are putting our health and care first, every day.
“We must continue to do everything we can to support them; to protect our NHS and to save lives.
“Stay at home and help stop the virus spreading.
“We know it’s hard and we want to thank you for sticking to the rules. There are some early signs this is having a positive impact but there’s still a long way to go. We know that staying at home for long periods is difficult and families all over Wales are making many sacrifices every day.
“Most people are doing just this, but it’s really frustrating to see some people flouting the rules and putting other people at risk. We are taking action to stop this happening.
“These rules are there to protect you and your loved ones. For most people the virus will cause a mild illness, but there’s a large number of people – children, adults and grandparents – who are at risk of serious illness if they are exposed.
“Sadly, a lot of people have already died after catching coronavirus. Families across Wales have lost loved ones to this virus – if we don’t act now, even more deaths will follow.
“Our actions and decisions over the Easter bank holiday weekend, and in the coming weeks and months, will shape Wales for years to come.
“Please – stay home and save lives.”
The letter is signed by:
Mark Drakeford AM, First Minister of Wales
Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services
Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer for Wales
Andrew Goodall, NHS Wales Chief Executive
Tracey Cooper Public Health Wales Chief Executive
Carl Foulkes Chief Constable, North Wales Police
Mark Collins Chief Constable, Dyfed-Powys Police
Matt Jukes Chief Constable, South Wales Police
Pam Kelly Chief Constable, Gwent Police
Andrew Morgan WLGA Leader, on behalf of all Welsh Local Authorities
Arfon Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales
Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys
Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales
Jeff Cuthbert, Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent
Jason Killens, Chief Executive, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust
Ruth Marks, Wales Council for Voluntary Action Chief Executive
Simon Smith, Chief Fire Officer North Wales Fire and Rescue Service
Chris Davies, Chief Fire Officer Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service
Hugh Jakeway, Chief Fire Officer South Wales Fire and Rescue Service
Tegryn Jones, Chief Executive, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
Emyr Williams, Chief Executive, Snowdonia National Park Authority
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