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Seven in ten welcome the prospect of hybrid heating

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Seven in ten welcome the prospect of hybrid heating, and almost three quarters of people are interested in low carbon hybrid heating: but comfort and reliability are ‘must haves’, new research shows.

The results are from more than 1,000 survey responses gathered by electricity network operator UK Power Networks and gas network Wales & West Utilities as part of their HyCompact project.

The trial which runs until March 2022, is researching consumers’ attitudes and live testing low carbon hybrid heating systems in UK homes. Hybrid heating systems work by switching between gas and electricity to guarantee lowest cost and carbon emissions.

The research also suggests people will only buy low carbon heating systems if they are cheaper, more reliable, or easier to install than conventional systems. It found 72% of respondents say hybrid heating systems are either moderately or very appealing. However, the most popular reasons for switching are comfort and reliability (both 96%), plus cheaper running costs and ease of use (both 94%).

The vast majority (85%) said they are satisfied with their current gas system, while around four in five would only consider switching if their current boiler stops working. If a breakdown happened, just over 80% would be interested in hybrid heating if it was less disruptive than installing a new gas boiler, underlining the need for low carbon systems to improve on products already on the market.

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Lowering carbon emissions from heat is vital if the UK is to achieve Net Zero emissions targets and avert the climate crisis. Currently 85% of UK homes are supplied by natural gas for heating and cooking, with conventional gas boilers burning gas and producing emissions from each home. Another four million properties are ‘off-gas grid’ and use fossil fuels for heating and cooking. Heat accounts for around a third of all UK emissions.

HyCompact trial participant Steve Keating said: “Net Zero can’t be achieved by ignoring it, we all need to take ownership of it so it feels really good to be part of something that’s aiming towards that end goal of Net Zero.”

Sarah Williams, director of regulation and asset strategy at Wales & West Utilities said: “This research sets out the scale of the challenge we face in the energy sector to decarbonise heat in a way that is affordable, reliable – and customer focussed. It demonstrates clearly that any future energy solution must meet the needs of customers: keeping disruption to homes to a minimum and delivering the high levels of comfort and reliability they are used to.

“Alongside green gases like hydrogen and biomethane, we think that hybrid heating will be a vital tool to help decarbonise heat, and we’re looking forward to hearing more from customers on their experiences.”

Ian Cameron, head of customer services and innovation at UK Power Networks said: “These insights are a powerful reminder we’ve got to put customers first in the transition to Net Zero emissions. We need to invest in our network, make it easy for people and deliver an exceptional customer experience so people see real benefits when they switch to low carbon heating. A one-size fits all approach just isn’t going to work, and that’s why we’re partnering with Wales & West Utilities to explore the issue as widely as possible.”

A total of 1,099 homeowners from a range of demographics, locations and property types with gas central heating responded to the survey.

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Carmarthenshire

Residents encouraged to have say on Teifi Valley flooding schemes

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Consultation on flood prevention schemes by Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion councils in the Teifi Valley has been extended to August 31 to give more residents an opportunity to have their say.

Face-to-face events in Llandysul and Llynybydder have been added to the previous online only consultation.

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Residents can visit the powerhouse in Llandysul on Wednesday 24 August between 10am and 1pm, or between 3pm and 6pm. There’s also an event at Llanybydder RFC on Thursday 25 August between 10am and 1pm, and also between 3pm and 6pm.

Officers from Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion County Councils and Natural Resources Wales will be in attendance to answer any queries along with a representative from the consultants appointed by both authorities.

The council’s say that all partners involved want to understand the impact that flooding has on communities, how the flooding happens and to assess different flood measures that will reduce the impact during increasingly stormy weather in the future.

People will be able to submit feedback in person by writing their comments down and putting them in the box located at the venues. This will be in addition to the comments and suggestions submitted during the online consultation process.

The councils say that feedback from the consultation and these events will feed into the next stage of work and form part of any decision making that Natural Resources Wales and Welsh Government will undertake to design and implement any flood risk reduction scheme.

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Carmarthenshire County Council’s  Cabinet Member for Transport, Waste and Infrastructure Services Cllr Edward Thomas said: “We want as much feedback as possible from residents so that together we can look further into the options available to us to manage flood risk in these communities. The drop-in events will provide an opportunity for residents to speak to officers about the different options available and the next steps.”

Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Environmental Services and Carbon Management Keith Henson said: “We encourage the residents of Llandysul, Pont-Tyweli and Llanybydder to have their say in this consultation, either by attending the in-person events at the said locations or by visiting the online link on the council’s website. The responses from this consultation will enable us and our partners to explore what options we have to manage flood risk in the Teifi Valley.”

Lead image: Humphrey Bolton / Geograph)

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Environment

Swansea University named one of country’s best green spaces

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The spectacular and diverse grounds of Swansea University’s two campuses have once again been judged among the best green spaces in Wales.

The University is celebrating after being awarded a Green Flag, the international mark of a quality park or green space and recognises excellent visitor facilities, high environmental standards, and a commitment to delivering great quality green space.

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It has also retained its Green Heritage Site Accreditation which it gained for the first time last year. This special award, endorsed by Cadw, recognises sites that are both historically significant and meet Green Flag criteria.

Grounds manager Paul Edwards paid tribute to his teams’ efforts at both University campuses: “We are immensely proud to have retained both the Green Flag and Heritage Award status. Our sites offer very different challenges and rewards and it is through the hard work and dedication of the team that both are to the highest standards for the enjoyment of our students, staff and visitors.

“The grounds team’s in-depth knowledge ensures that the historic nature of the Singleton site and the beachside setting of the Bay Campus will continue to be preserved and enhanced for future generations.”

Swansea University received a Green Flag Award for its two campuses

Swansea University Registrar and Chief Operating Officer Niamh Lamond said: “We are extremely pleased to have retained the Green Flag Award for five consecutive years. This recognises the hard work and commitment of our outstanding grounds’ team in developing and managing our green spaces in a sustainable manner, whilst appreciating the historic and scientific nature of these spaces.

“Our grounds and gardens are important to the wellbeing of our staff, students and local communities and valued immensely by the University.”

This year the University is among 265 green spaces – ranging from formal gardens and parks to allotments and churchyards – across the country have received the prestigious Green Flag Award and Green Flag Community Award.

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The Green Flag Award programme is delivered in Wales by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy, with support from Welsh Government. Each site was visited by expert judges who looked at criteria including biodiversity, cleanliness, environmental management, and community involvement.

Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change, Julie James said: “Our local green spaces have a vital role to play in connecting us to nature. These awards go to prove that Wales’ parks and similar areas are doing a wonderful job in providing quality places to relax and enjoy.”

Lucy Prisk, Green Flag Coordinator at Keep Wales Tidy said: “With more visitors than ever enjoying our green spaces, I’d like to congratulate the hard work of staff and volunteers who have maintained excellent standards at these sites.”

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Carmarthenshire

Carmarthenshire council opens ‘Re-use village’ in Nantycaws

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Carmarthenshire County Council and CWM Environmental Ltd have officially opened Canolfan Eto, a brand-new re-use village in Nantycaws which the council says aims to help close the loop on waste in the county and give a new lease of life to unwanted items.

Canolfan Eto offers a sustainable shopping experience to customers looking to purchase a wide range of items including furniture, bicycles, paint, gardening items and much more.

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An education centre will soon host sessions for school pupils covering a range of environmental topics including; the importance of recycling, what happens to waste at recycling centres, how pollinators help us and how to support a circular economy in Carmarthenshire.

Cllr Aled Vaughan Owen, Cabinet Member for climate change, decarbonisation and sustainability said: “The opening of Canolfan Eto in Nantycaws marks an exciting step in the expansion of the Eto project as well as the growth of sustainability in Carmarthenshire.”

“With an on-site repair workshop to transform donations, the project looks to repair and re-use items to keep them in use for as long as possible.”

Cllr Edward Thomas, Cabinet Member for transport, waste and infrastructure services said: “Canolfan Eto will provide opportunities for residents and visitors to purchase a wide range of donated items that have been repaired and re-used by the project; helping to reduce the number of items that enter into the waste stream.”

The Eto project also includes a shop located in Stepney Street, Llanelli town centre which opened in 2021.

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Donation stations are available at all of Carmarthenshire’s household waste recycling centres, where residents can donate items to the project.

The council says that Eto means ‘again’ and symbolises its ambition of a circular economy. It adds that Canolfan Eto will encourage visitors to purchase and donate previously used items rather than buying new whenever possible. The council say that the project will also help to achieve Carmarthenshire’s ambition of delivering a circular economy throughout the county as well as becoming a leader in recycling and re-use within Wales.

A circular economy focuses on eliminating waste by cutting down on throw away consumption and turning materials that would have previously been disposed of into a valuable resource. 

This project has been funded through Welsh Government’s Circular Economy fund. 

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