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Welsh Government

Extraordinary people shortlisted for national awards

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The St David Awards are Wales’ national awards to recognise every day heroes

Police officers who saved a 92-year-old woman from a burning house, an ITV presenter who is a domestic abuse survivor and campaigner, and a former gambler now helping other addicts, are among those shortlisted for a national St David Awards.

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The St David Awards, which will celebrate their ninth year in 2022, recognise the extraordinary achievements of people from across Wales.

This year’s awards will be given to people and companies in nine different categories, recognising Bravery, Community Spirit to Innovation, Science and Technology. The First Minister of Wales will also give his special award.

Announcing the finalists, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Some of the people shortlisted have shown extraordinary acts of bravery and determination. Others have shown incredible community spirit despite the pressures of living through the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our finalists are astonishing people and we are very fortunate they call Wales home. I would like to congratulate all those who have been shortlisted and I want to thank everyone who took the time to nominate someone for an award – unfortunately not everyone can make the shortlist.”

The winners will be announced in a ceremony on 7 April 2022

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The finalists are:

Bravery

PC Ian Chattun and Sergeant Katy Evans – Police officers from Dyfed Powys police saved a vulnerable woman from drowning on Aberystwyth seafront

PC Thomas Scourfield and Sergeant Geraint Jenkins – The police officers risked their lives to attempt to save the life of a 92 ­year ­old man who was trapped in a burning building in Port Talbot

Aaron Gray – Prestatyn, Denbighshire – A father saved seven neighbours from a fire just minutes before their house was engulfed in flames. Aaron saw the blaze, after being woken by his three-year-old son at 5am. The former soldier rushed over and roused the two women and five children inside the bungalow in Prestatyn.

Business

A&R cleaning and security services – Bridgend – A business that adapted their services during the pandemic, investing in new technology, allowing them to become the first in Wales to offer a bio-misting services which provides additional biosecurity against Covid.

Awesome Wales CIC – Barry and Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan – Awesome Wales is a social enterprise with zero waste stores that allow customers buy environmentally friendly and ethically produced goods with no unnecessary plastic packaging

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Jordan Lea – Llandudno, Conwy – An inspiring individual, Jordan Lea started a community interest company Deal Me Out in 2020 following debilitating mental health issues surrounding his gambling addiction which he has overcome.

Community Spirit

Carole Anne Dacey – Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan – Since her retirement, Carole has worked full time with some of the most vulnerable people in Wales, including the homeless; people who have been trafficked; and prisoners. She has also trained others (including prisoners) to be able to take on volunteer roles.

Ruth Dodsworth – Cardiff – A well-known TV presenter who suffered abuse and controlling behaviour by her husband for nearly 20 years. She now campaigns against coercive control and helps Wales’ police forces to spot the signs of domestic abuse.

Siop Griffiths – Dyffryn Nantlle, Gwynedd – A community enterprise in Penygroes, Dyffryn Nantlle in Gwynedd that has helped create local solutions to the challenges facing the Nantlle Valley and to give young people opportunities to stay and thrive in their community.

Critical Worker

Dr Eilir Hughes – Nefyn, Gwynedd – A GP that founded the Fresh Air Wales campaign to promote the importance of ventilation, especially in schools, and mask-wearing to reduce the risk of spreading and catching Covid 19.

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Michelle Jones and Catherine Cooper – Head teacher and Assistant Head teacher at Lansdowne Primary School, Cardiff – During the COVID-19 pandemic, Michelle and Catherine provided support and child care provision for children of key workers and vulnerable children, ensuring they were able to attend school, providing families with food and other essentials, and making themselves available 24/7 to offer help and advice to the community.

Respiratory nursing team from Glamorgan Hospital – Llantrisant, Cardiff – The team played an important role when they provided support for families with loved ones in hospital with Covid, as well as the guidance. They also provided reassurance to staff at the hospital’s Acute Medical Unit

Ysgol Esceifiog – Anglesey – A school which gave support to a family in their school following a terminal diagnosis for one of their pupils. They ensured support was provided to the siblings in school as well as supporting other pupils who were affected by their friend’s illness.

Culture

Berwyn Rowlands – Cardiff – Berwyn is a Welsh TV and film producer and film fan and is the Festival Director of the Iris Prize – Cardiff’s LGBT+ Film Festival which awards the world’s largest short film prize.

Dr Ami Jones and Glenn Dene – Aneurin Bevan University Health Board – As well as fulfilling their usual duties, Ami and Glenn published a collection of Glenn’s photographs from inside Welsh hospitals in a photo book entitled ‘Behind the Mask: the NHS Family and the fight with Covid 19’, with Ami narrating.

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Jessica Dunrod – Cardiff – A writer and linguist who has made a huge impact on Welsh language literature. On an effort to diversify Welsh literature, she brought 10 titles to the Welsh market in less than a year.

Environment Champion

Dr Sarah Beynon – The Bug Farm – St Davids, Pembrokeshire – Dr Beynon, a farmer, conservationist and academic entomologist, has established a multi award-winning Bug Farm in 2013 on her 100-acre farm. As a research and education centre showcases the sustainable future of food, farming and wildlife conservation.

Low Carbon Built Environment Group (Cardiff University) – Welsh School of Architechture, Cardiff University – A group have helped significantly to reduce carbon emissions in housing whilst improving conditions and reducing energy bills.

Melissa Forster and Kristina Pruett – Pontypridd – They have led the way in recycling and fly-tipping in their area. Their pledge, The Litter Pick Challenge, developed into a community action organisation with links to other areas of Wales, the U.K. and abroad.

Innovation, Science and Technology

Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, Prof Rob Honey, Dr Byron Wilkinson and Phil Butler – Cardiff University – A small team of dedicated researchers co­produced research on decision­-making in emergency situations for with the National Fire Chiefs Council.

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Luca Pagano, Graham Howe, Peter Charlton, John Hughes and Richard Morgan – University of Wales Trinity St Davids (UWTSD), Carmarthen – A small team that has developed a 3D printed jet respiratory support system to help the NHS during the initial COVID-19 outbreak.

Research and Delivery Team Swansea Bay University Health Board – Swansea Bay University Health Board – The research staff worked together to support clinical teams with trials focusing on urgent public health trials. The team adapted to change to ensure that research continued during such a pressured time for health boards

Sport

David Smith MBE – Swansea – A boccia multiple European, World and Paralympic gold medals winner over the past 14 years, most recently at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

Hannah Mills OBE – Cardiff – Hannah, who won a second gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to go with several World and European titles, became the most successful female Olympic sailor of all time.

Lauren Price – Ystrad Mynach, Caerphilly – In 2021, became the first Welsh woman to win a boxing gold medal at the Olympic Games. This will add to her Commonwealth gold medal in 2018 and European Championship Gold Medal

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Young person

Benjamin Trewartha – Church Village, Rhondda Cynon Taf – Following people close to Benjamin suffering with cardiac episodes, Benjamin has been proactive in bringing about first aid training for school pupils to deal with cardiac related situations

Daniel Lewis – Treharris, Merthyr Tydfil – During lockdown, Daniel started a campaign to clean up fly-tipping hotspots. Through fundraising and working with local businesses, he has successfully removed over 25 tonnes of illicit waste on the Merthyr and Gelligaer Common.

Makenzy Beard – Bishopston, Gower – The 14-year-old school girl started painting as a hobby during lockdown. Her art work has won thousands of fans and gone viral on social media. Her artwork was selected for exhibition at the prestigious Royal Academy Young Artists’ Summer Show in London this summer. Makenzy also plays hockey for Wales.

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Welsh Government

Development Bank of Wales announces £33 million for greener housing

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Residential developers who meet green standards can now access a new Green Homes Incentive that will help deliver more thermally efficient and lower carbon homes in Wales.

Funded by the Welsh Government, the Green Homes Incentive is available on residential development loans from Development Bank’s Wales Property Development and Wales Stalled Sites Funds and includes a reduction in loan repayment fees of up to 2%.

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Finance for up to 100% of building costs is available with interest rolled-up throughout the loan term. Eligibility will depend upon qualifying criteria that includes EPC A Rating/Passivhaus status, non-concrete structures and non-fossil fuel heating systems.

The operation of buildings accounts for around 30% of emissions in the UK, mainly from heating, cooling and electricity use.  For new buildings, the embodied emissions from construction can account for up to half of the carbon impacts associated with the building over its lifecycle.

The latest RICS data (2020) shows 77% of all new builds in Wales achieved an EPC B rating, with only 5% achieving an A rating. Additional insulation, double/triple glazing and solar panels can all help to improve EPC ratings.

It is also widely accepted that alternative structures such as timber frames, hempcrete blocks, limecrete blocks and mycelium bricks have a lower carbon impact than concrete. The use of timber frames has become more commonplace over the last decade but recent global pressures on timber cost and availability have led to a number of developers reverting to concrete hence the need for financial incentives.

Developers that install non-fossil fuel heating systems will also be able to benefit from the new incentive as ground and air source heat pumps significantly reduce operational energy demand during the life of a property.

Minister for Climate Change, Julie James said: “Tackling the climate emergency must be at the heart of everything we do in Wales as we all work together across this decade of action.

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“The Green Homes Incentive will support SME housebuilders in delivering low carbon homes, part of our journey to a Net Zero Wales by 2050.

“Finding innovative ways to improve the energy efficiency of new homes will also bring down costs for homeowners which is crucial as we help people through a cost of living crisis.”

Giles Thorley, Chief Executive of the Development Bank of Wales

Giles Thorley, Chief Executive of the Development Bank said: “Sustainable business is at the heart of our core principles, so we want to support developers making the change to greener development practices as part of the Team Wales effort to build a stronger, greener economy.

“Our Green Homes Incentive offers reduced lending costs for housing schemes that will help to deliver more thermally efficient and lower carbon homes in Wales. It’s the first of several initiatives as we look to support the journey to net zero with funding that helps forward-thinking companies to address climate change.”

Cenydd Rowlands, Property Director at the Development Bank, said: “We are already seeing examples of developers wanting to make the change towards more eco-friendly options particularly given the upcoming changes in building regulations which are likely to impose higher eco-standards across all new schemes.

“We know the importance developers place on certainty of funding.  This has become even more important of late given the additional uncertainties around other key elements of development, such as supply availability and material cost inflation. Our dedicated property team is here to help with a quick decision-making process that is designed to get more developers building greener housing as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

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Cardiff-based developers Wellspring Homes hope to use the Green Homes Incentive for their next development. Using local contractors, the company is close to completing the construction of its first property built using Hempcrete, a natural ‘better than zero carbon’ material that is breathable. Planning permission has been granted for their next development in Neath that will feature eight low-carbon homes. With an A grade energy rating, all will have solid wall construction using Hempcrete and will be fitted with air source heat pumps.

Director Hadleigh Hobbs said: “We’ve got an opportunity to build housing differently in Wales by using more innovative methods of construction to deliver the next generation of living space. Each one of our homes is being built using solid Hempcrete walls. This gives really good thermal mass with its unique properties helping to store and release heat from the building’s walls, limiting fluctuations in temperature, reducing energy costs and virtually eliminating condensation by releasing internal moisture. The use of hemp within the walls also locks up carbon dioxide in the structure of the building.

“However, funding is essential for our industry if we’re going to scale-up and deliver more low carbon homes in Wales. This is what will enable us to refine the technology and make the homes of the future commercially viable.  The Development Bank understands this challenge and is now able to offer the support needed to drive down carbon emissions with the development of new homes that are well-built, beautiful to live in and beneficial to our natural environment.”

(Lead image: Wellspring Homes)

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Tourism

New planning rules and licensing scheme for second home and holiday accommodation in Wales

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The Welsh Government have announced new planning laws, a statutory licensing scheme and proposals to change land transaction tax as part of a package of measures aimed at addressing numbers of second homes in Wales.

First Minister Mark Drakeford and leader of Plaid Cymru Adam Price set out the next steps in a programme of actions to help create thriving communities and to support people to afford a home, in a joint press conference today (Monday 4 July).

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The Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru includes a commitment to tackle the issue of second homes affecting many communities in Wales.

The package of measures being announced today includes changes to planning regulations by the end of the summer. These will introduce three new planning use classes – a primary home, a second home and short-term holiday accommodation. Local planning authorities, where they have evidence, will be able to make amendments to the planning system to require planning permission for change of use from one class to another. The will also be changes to national planning policy to give local authorities the ability to control the number of second homes and holiday lets in any community.

Also announced were plans to introduce a statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation, including short-term holiday lets, making it a requirement to obtain a license. The Welsh Government say this additional regulation will help raise standards across the tourism industry.

Following a consultation about varying land transaction tax (the Welsh version of Stamp Duty) locally in areas with large numbers of second homes, the Welsh Government announced that work will start today (Monday 4 July) with local authorities to develop a national framework so they can request increased land transaction tax rates for second homes and holiday lets to be applied in their local area.

The Welsh Government say they have already introduced a range of measures to address the issue of second homes, including giving councils the discretionary power to increase council tax premiums on second and empty homes and it has changed the rules on holiday lets so owners and operators make a fair contribution to their local communities.

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First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We are today setting out the next steps in a radical programme to ensure everyone has the opportunity to afford to live in their local community – whether that’s buying or renting a home.

“We have a shared ambition for Wales to be a nation of thriving communities – a country where people do not have to leave to find good and rewarding work and a country which people want to come to visit and to live.

“Tourism is vital to our economy but having too many holiday properties and second homes, which are empty for much of the year, does not make for healthy local communities and prices people out of the local housing market.

“There is no single, simple solution to these issues. Any action we take must be fair. We do not want to create any unintended consequences, which could destabilise the wider housing market or make it harder for people to rent or buy.”

Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price said: “We are committed to using a range of planning, taxation and property levers to tackle the issue of second and unaffordable homes – and to do so with urgency.

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“The package of purposeful measures that have been developed as a result of the constructive cooperation between Plaid Cymru and the Government in this area will, together, begin to address the injustices in our housing system and make a real difference to people and communities right across our nation.

“The aim is to give everyone ‘yr hawl i fyw adra’– the ability to live and work in the communities in which they grew up.”

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Transport

£48m ‘gap funding’ support package for Welsh bus industry

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The bus industry in Wales is set to receive a support package worth £48m to help them recover from the impact of the pandemic and deal with emerging financial challenges, the Welsh Government has announced today.

The Bus Emergency package will provide ‘gap funding’ until the end of this financial year for bus operators to maintain the necessary bus services and routes in their area, in return for greater public control over Welsh bus services.

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This funding is one of a number of short-term measures that have been taken by the Welsh Government to support bus operators at a time when they needed it the most. With the longer-term future of the bus industry in mind a review of the existing Bus Services Support Grant (BSSG) scheme will also be taken to consider how it can be used to move the industry away from a reliance on emergency funding schemes and bridge the gap to franchising.

Announcing the latest emergency funding package, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, with a responsibility for transport, Lee Waters said: “The bus industry is emerging from some of its toughest times, and we need to continue to provide support to help the industry recover and secure a healthy future.

“During the pandemic passenger numbers fell by around 90% and have still only returned to between 50% and 70% of pre-Covid levels, leaving operators struggling with reduced revenue and contending with the latest challenges of rising fuel and operating costs.

“The funding I’ve announced today will provide a short-term solution to help the industry to begin to recover from the challenges it has and continues to face whilst we develop a longer-term solution to tackle the gradual decline in passengers over the years.

“In March I set out our plans to bring forward legislation to change the way bus services are delivered across Wales. Throughout this process we will be working closely with local government, the bus industry and passengers, to design a system that is ‘easy to use, easy to access and well connected’ providing people a ‘real sustainable transport alternative’ to the private car.

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“We will provide an update on how these plans are progressing later this year.”

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