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EV charging points for eco-friendly Copr Bay

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Electric vehicle charging points are soon being installed in Swansea’s emerging new £135m Copr Bay phase one district as a drive to make the scheme as eco-friendly as possible gathers more pace.

Planting has also begun for the green wall and 1.1-acre coastal park forming part of the development.

Other features of Copr Bay include the use of low-voltage LED lighting throughout the scheme. This includes the LED lights around the outside of the Swansea Arena development, which will be powered by photovoltaic cells on the attraction’s roof. Computer control means the lights can be programmed to integrate with other LED lights within the Copr Bay development.  

Copr Bay phase one is being developed by Swansea Council and advised by development managers RivingtonHark. Construction, being led by Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd, will be complete later this year, with the arena, to be operated by the Ambassador Theatre Group, opening its doors in early 2022.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, said: “Copr Bay will give the people of Swansea world-class facilities like the stunning new arena, but it’s also vitally important the scheme is as environmentally-friendly and sustainable as possible too.

“As well as the electric vehicle charging points soon being installed, Copr Bay will also feature many bike shelters to encourage alternative modes of travel, along with the first new city centre park since Victorian times, adding even more greenery and biodiversity to the area.

“A green roof will also form part of the new apartment building being constructed as part of the scheme, and new greenery has already been planted along Oystermouth Road to improve the look of the area. Rainwater will be collected at parts of the new Copr Bay development too, helping irrigate the plants and other greenery at the new coastal park.”

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Cllr Andrea Lewis, Swansea Council’s Joint Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Service Transformation, said: “This is all part of a broader plan to significantly cut our carbon footprint to help realise our goal of becoming a carbon zero city by 2050. As well as the introduction of far more greenery and biodiversity, this also includes all new developments being as environmentally-friendly as possible, which shows how seriously the council and its partners are taking our climate change responsibilities.

“Examples include other living walls being put in place on The Kingsway, as well work soon starting on a cutting-edge new office development at the former Oceana nightclub site that will be zero carbon, once operational. A ‘living building’ is planned to be introduced nearby too, thanks to Hacer Developments, and a private sector consortium, led by DST Innovations, have just announced the hugely exciting £1.7bn Blue Eden project for Swansea that will include a tidal lagoon.”

Both the 71/72 Kingsway office development and the arena feature of the Copr Bay scheme are being part-funded by the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal, which is made up of nine programmes and projects across the Swansea Bay City Region as a whole.

(Lead image: RAC)

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Motoring

New law change means £200 fine and 6 points for ANY use of hand-held mobile phones at the wheel

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Prosecution regulations have been tightened on the use of hand-held mobile phones at the wheel.

Police will soon be able to more easily prosecute drivers using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel after the government strengthens existing laws to further improve road safety.

It is already illegal to text or make a phone call (other than in an emergency) using a hand-held device while driving. Next year, laws will go further to ban drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games.

This will mean anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and 6 points on their licence.

Drivers will still be able to continue using a device ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a sat-nav, if it’s secured in a cradle. They must, however, always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Too many deaths and injuries occur while mobile phones are being held.

“By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users.

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“While our roads remain among the safest in the world, we will continue working tirelessly to make them safer, including through our award-winning THINK! campaign, which challenges social norms among high-risk drivers.

“This follows a public consultation that found 81% of respondents supported proposals to strengthen the law and make it easier for culprits to be prosecuted.

“Following the public consultation, the government will revise The Highway Code to explain the new measures. It will also be more precise about the fact that being stationary in traffic counts as driving, making it clear that hand-held mobile phone use at traffic lights or in motorway jams is illegal except in very limited circumstances.

“There will be an exemption to the new law for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology.

“This exemption will cover, for example, places like a drive-through restaurant or a road toll, and will only apply when payment is being made with a card reader. It will not allow motorists to make general online payments while driving.”

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Mary Williams OBE, Chief Executive of Brake – the road safety charity, said: “Driver distraction can be deadly and using a hand-held phone at the wheel is never worth the risk. This important road safety decision by government, coinciding with Road Safety Week, is very welcomed.

“This news is particularly welcomed by families suffering bereavement and catastrophic injury due to drivers being distracted by phones. The theme for Road Safety Week is road safety heroes – we can all be road safety heroes by giving driving our full attention.”

Edmund King, President of the AA said: “By making mobile phone use as socially unacceptable as drink-driving, we are taking big steps to make our roads safer. For years, the AA has campaigned hard and helped educate drivers to the dangers from bad mobile phone use.

“To help ensure drivers get the message, we also need more cops in cars to help catch and deter those still tempted to pick up.”

Simon Williams from the RAC said: “As our phones have become more sophisticated, the law has not kept pace and this has allowed some drivers who have been using their handheld phones for purposes other than communicating to exploit a loophole and avoid the maximum penalty.

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“While today’s announcement is clearly good news, it’s absolutely vital that the new law is vigorously enforced otherwise there’s a risk that it won’t deliver the sort of behaviour change that will make our roads safer.”

The Department for Transport has also today published a study by Ipsos Mori about drivers who use mobile phones while driving.

Among other findings, the research reveals younger motorists are more likely to have used a handheld device at the wheel, supporting the focus of the government’s award-winning THINK! campaign, which works to boost road safety by targeting higher-risk, younger motorists and road-users.

(Lead image: Roman Pohorecki on Pexels.com)

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Carmarthenshire

Vehicle charging hub, a first of its kind in Wales

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A new electric vehicle charging hub, a first of its kind in Wales, is soon to be opened in Cross Hands.

The superfast charging hub is located off the A48 and will provide four 50KW rapid chargers and one 150KW super rapid charger.

The chargers are supported by photovoltaic cells which will provide a source of clean energy and help reduce draw from the national grid.

The project is funded through the Welsh Government’s Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle Fund.

This latest scheme is part of Carmarthenshire County Council’s ongoing efforts to support sustainability as it works towards becoming a net zero carbon local authority by 2030.

The council has already installed 28 fast charging points across the county with a further 15 being added by the end of March next year.

Last week the council launched a new campaign Prosiect Zero Sir Gâr to coincide with COP26 – a global summit for climate action – which shines a spotlight on efforts being made to become carbon neutral.

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Investing in infrastructure to support sustainable travel is just one of the initiatives the council has underway to support its efforts to tackle climate change.

The council intends to build on its work to date, ten years ago the council became the first local authority in Wales to introduce electric pool car vehicles for staff to use.

Six years ago the current fleet of refuse and gritter lorries were renewed and the council procured Euro VI vehicles with reduced emissions technology which were the most advanced at the time.

As these vehicles fall due for replacement the council is trialling electric powered bin lorries for future use. Changes have also been made to refuse collection routes to reduce vehicle mileage.

Next year, working in partnership with the Wales Government and Transport for Wales, the council hopes to introduce electric buses on the Traws Cymru Carmarthen to Aberystwyth bus route.

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Some smaller scale projects have also been developed to support more sustainable travel including Carmarthen Bus Station which has a fully operational Bike Hire Dock with eight folding bikes. Two further locations will be operational before Christmas at Burry Port and Llanelli.

The council has also recently installed eight eBike charging locations at Carmarthen Leisure Centre, Amman Valley Leisure Centre, Llandovery Leisure Centre, Pembrey Country Park, Eastgate and the Beacon in Llanelli, Pendine Trip Attractor and St Catherine’s Walk with facilities to securely store bikes. These will be available shortly.

Five Taxi eBikes for children with limited mobility have also been installed in primary schools across the county and 12 eCargo Bikes will soon be available free of charge to businesses across the county.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Hazel Evans, said: “The number of electric vehicles on our roads is increasing year on year and we need to ensure that drivers have access that is convenient and reliable. We remain committed to supporting the development of high quality, reliable EV infrastructure to the residents and visitors of Carmarthenshire and have recently produced an EV Charging Infrastructure Strategy that will allow us to plan and set targets for the next 10 years.”

Cllr Evans added that the council is continuing to pull out all the stops to progressing its commitment to sustainable travel.

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“We are working closely with partners and Welsh Government to identify new areas where extra provision will prove beneficial, not just along the strategic road network, but also inclusive of destination charging and for specific initiatives such as the ‘Ten Towns’. Our eBikes are intended to support more sustainable travel in our town centres, as well as reducing carbon emissions and improving the air quality of town centres this will contribute to improved road safety and a reduction in vehicular traffic. And we are already making better use of out of technology by allowing staff to work from home and meet online to reduce the need for travel.”

Cllr Ann Davies, Cabinet Member for climate change said investing in sustainable travel plays a significant part in the authority’s efforts to tackle climate change. She said: “We have to look at our whole approach, so for electric vehicle use to grow, the infrastructure needs to be in place. We have achieved so much already but recognise that we have much more to do – that’s why we have launched Prosiect Zero Sir Gâr to galvanise our efforts and ensure everyone plays a part in helping us achieve net carbon zero.”

Lead image: Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Hazel Evans (Image: Carmarthenshire Council

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Wales records the fewest number of road traffic casualties out of all the UK’s regions

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According to the latest government road safety data, there were 818 Welsh road traffic casualties in 2020 – a 13% decrease from the previous year, despite a regional reduction in car traffic vehicle miles of 24% due to the pandemic and resulting lockdowns.

Wales also recorded 71 road traffic fatalities and 744 serious injuries, making it statistically, the safest region in the UK in terms of total casualties. 

With Road Safety Week commencing from the 15-21 November, these statistics show that despite the best efforts of government and other road safety groups to reduce the number of casualties, there are still a large number of major incidents occurring, relative to the amount of traffic on the UK’s roads.

Jeanette Whyman, Serious Injury Lawyer from Wright Hassall commented: “Despite the significant decrease in traffic in 2020, we are still seeing a considerable number of serious injuries on our roads, often resulting in people needing compensation for their life-changing injuries.

“To give you a better understanding of how widespread road safety issues are in the UK, we have offered a regional breakdown of the latest government data, which details the situation on our roads and shows the need to seek expert legal advice if you are involved in any such incident.

“Although the latest figures show a decline in the number of road traffic casualties, this 13% reduction must be taken in context against an overall drop of 24% in car traffic vehicle miles.

“This shows major road traffic incidents are still a regular occurrence, which unfortunately means a lot of innocent victims will have their lives negatively impacted as a result. And ultimately, if it wasn’t your fault, then you shouldn’t be left to bear the emotional or financial consequences.”

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(Lead image: Dominika Kwiatkowska / Pexels.com)

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