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Wales’ first high powered electric vehicle charging hub opens in Swansea

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Wales’ first high-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging hub has opened at Moto Swansea – the motorway service station on M4 Junction 47 at Penllergaer, marking a step-change in the country’s EV charging infrastructure and supporting drivers to switch to EVs ahead of the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles.

The advanced Electric Hub, part of the GRIDSERVE Electric Highway – one of the UK’s leading EV charging networks – initially hosts six 350kW high-power EV charge points, with the ability to quickly add a further six high power chargers as soon as they are required.

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All chargers will be supplied with 100% net zero carbon energy from GRIDSERVE’s solar farms, accept contactless payment for maximum accessibility, and have the ability to deliver 100-miles of range in less than 10 minutes.

Located at junction 47 on the M4 at Moto Swansea, the GRIDSERVE Electric Hub supports the Welsh Government’s plans to slash emissions from transport, a sector responsible for 17% of the country’s overall emissions.

The Government’s Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy for Wales[i] commits to delivering 4,000 rapid chargers across the country over the next decade – of which just 3% are already installed.

Lack of public charging infrastructure is a known barrier to EV adoption and has historically led to regional disparities in EV registrations. Currently, Wales has one of the lowest numbers of EV charge points per head of population in the UK and Southwest Wales – where GRIDSERVE’s Electric Hub is located – has just half the average proportion of EVs when compared to the rest of the UK.

GRIDSERVE is actively looking at further sites in Wales for the development of future Electric Hubs and award-winning Electric Forecourts® to help boost charging in the country and give people the confidence to make the switch to electric vehicles.

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Toddington Harper, CEO of GRIDSERVE, said: “Our mission is to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles in the shortest possible timeframes to help prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

“This is a landmark project for GRIDSERVE and Moto and the first high-power charging facility of its kind for Wales. We’re really excited to be demonstrating that all parts of the UK should be able to embrace the EV revolution.

“We cannot let a lack of infrastructure prevent drivers from realising the myriad of benefits that come with driving an electric vehicle. This project will help deliver the confidence for more people to make the switch to EVs, as well as support the growing number of people who already have.”

He continued: “Thanks to partners like Moto, we are rapidly upgrading Britain’s motorway charging network and are prioritising areas of the UK that currently lack adequate charging infrastructure, by deploying more high-power Electric Hubs and Electric Forecourts®. The Electric Hub at Moto Swansea is the first of many projects that we are aiming to deliver across Wales.”

Ken McMeikan, CEO of Moto, added: “At Moto, we are absolutely passionate about transforming the electric vehicle charging experience for drivers across the UK’s motorways by delivering the capacity, reliability, simplicity and charging speed UK motorists need.

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“We are accelerating our ambition to open Ultra Rapid Charging Hubs at all of our Motorway Service Areas over the coming 12 months and are delighted with the progress that our partnership with GRIDSERVE is making. We launched our first EV Hub with 24 Ultra Rapid chargers at Moto Rugby last year and EV drivers have loved it, we are super confident we’ll see the same level of success here at Moto Swansea.”

Mike Hedges, MS for Swansea East said: “By 2025, Swansea is predicted to have one of the highest demands for EV charging in Wales as the uptake of electric vehicles continues to accelerate.

“Ensuring that we have the infrastructure in place now is fundamental to enabling more drivers to make this transition sooner.

“GRIDSERVE’s high power Electric Hub in Swansea is a step-change for rapid charging infrastructure in Wales and will support local drivers and visitors with the charging solutions they need.”

GRIDSERVE is delivering the biggest upgrade to motorway EV charging infrastructure in UK history. Over 20 Electric Hubs – each consisting of 6-12 x 350kW ultra high-power chargers – are due to open at motorway services across the UK by the end of Q2 2022, with large numbers of additional Electric Hub sites being lined up to follow.

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Since GRIDSERVE’s acquisition of Ecotricity’s Electric Highway in June of last year, the company has already invested tens of millions of pounds in upgrading the network. In addition to opening the first Electric Hub at Moto Rugby, the company has replaced more than 300 historical Ecotricity DC rapid chargers and has installed 130 additional AC chargers, ensuring that the charging needs for all types of electric vehicles are catered for.

In addition to the extensive upgrades taking place across the UK’s motorway network, GRIDSERVE is also progressing plans to deliver more than 100 Electric Forecourts® across the UK, with sites at Gatwick Airport and Norwich already in construction, with many more sites in development. GRIDSERVE opened the UK’s first Electric Forecourt® close to Braintree, Essex in December 2020.

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Motoring

Swansea tops UK’s motorcycling hotspots in new survey

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New research has identified the UK’s motorbike capital cities and towns, and when including surrounding areas in the postcode, Swansea has come out top – with an incredible 3.92% of the nations motorcyclists settling here.

Hosting 141,782 riders, Swansea offers both shoreline and lush, green scenic routes so its hardly surprising that the city is the UK’s number one biker hotspot.

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The new research by Bikesure has named Wales as the third-highest biker hotspot in the UK, with 9,514 riders per 100,000 people.

To calculate Britain’s biker hot spots, Bikesure analysed the latest Department for Transport data to identify the number of licensed motorcyclists in the UK in 2021. This data was then broken down by region per 100,000 people, allowing Bikesure to pinpoint the top three locations that Britain’s bikers reside. 

Whilst expected in a post-Covid world that new bikers in the UK would rise due to lowered restrictions and the backlog of learners, Bikesure’s research shows biking within Britain has seen a sharp increase. 

In 2021, 36.9k new bikers were registered in the UK. With discussions around the need to address climate change increasing, the findings suggest a shift in the way Brits are travelling. The return of bikers was particularly prevalent in Wales, which boasted rider growth of 114% since 2020.

Wales also tops the list when it comes to the greatest number of urban bikers, with both Swansea (141,781 actual riders) and Llandudno (77,803 actual riders) making the top ten town and city hot spots list with 6% of all urban riders living in these locations. Wales also had 5% of the 38.6k newly registered motorcyclists in 2021, boasting 114% growth since 2020.

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Bikesure asked bikers in the UK’s hot spots what they felt their region offered to riders. They said:

  • The North East offers great rural riding experiences, as voted by 72% of bikers in this region.
  • Scottish riders feel a sense of camaraderie with 71% of riders rating the friendliness of other motorcyclists highly.
  • Welsh riders were happiest with the accessibility of garages to upkeep and maintain their motorcycles, as voted by 81% of bikers.

Looking at newly licensed riders, although there was a decline in 2020, presumably due to Covid, 2021 was a bumper year with 38.6k new bikers. Looking at demographics, 3.6k newly qualified motorcyclists were aged 20-29 years old, but 2021 also saw the highest number of riders aged 60-69 get their licence, with 911 registering in the first three quarters.

Most of these new bikers can be found in the South East, with Reading and Guilford revealed as the region’s most popular biker towns. There were 7.1k newly qualified motorcyclists in the South East region – a year-on-year increase of 86%.

Large jumps in the number of new riders were also seen in Greater London, the East Midlands and in Yorkshire and the Humber.

The East Midlands is in fact home to 30% of the top 10 cities for newly registered motorcyclists. Nottingham, Derby and Leicester in the East Midlands saw 2.5k new bikers licensed in 2021. As a region, it saw an 106% increase in riders, meaning it was also among the top three fastest growing regions year-on-year along with Wales, and Yorkshire and the Humber.

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Education

“Stuck in a catch-22”: parents drive their children to school because they are concerned about traffic

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New polling data released for Living Streets’ Walk to School Week (16-20 May 2022) finds that traffic is one of the biggest barriers to children walking to school, with 17 per cent of parents in Wales naming it as a reason their child doesn’t walk.

With over 460,000 pupils in Wales, it would mean tens of thousands of them are being denied the physical and social health benefits of being more active.

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Schools being too far away from home (18%) and cars parked on pavements (17%) were also barriers for Welsh parents.

The latest data suggests just 50 per cent of primary school aged children in Wales walk to school.

Stephen Edwards, Chief Executive, Living Streets said: “We’re stuck in a catch-22 where families see driving to school as the safest way to protect their children from traffic.

“Leaving the car at home will reduce chaos and road danger around the school gates. It’s also a great way for children to learn about road safety in a real life setting and build their confidence in managing risk.

“Walk to School Week is an excellent opportunity for families to give walking to school a go and reap the health and social benefits of moving more.”

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Living Streets works with schools, local authorities and parent groups to help improve the walk to school.

Stephen Edwards continues: “We want to enable as well as encourage more families to walk to school. We’re here to help parents who are worried about safety around their child’s school. Car-free zones, 20mph limits and better crossings can all help make the walk to school safer and we’re here to help people campaign for them in their area.”

For more information on Living Streets’ walk to school campaign, visit livingstreets.org.uk/WalkToSchool

(Lead image: Shutterstock)

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Dyfed Powys Police

Man banned from driving for 12 months for fishing offence

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A man from Merthyr Tydfil who travelled to the River Loughor, near Llanelli to fish using a barbaric and illegal method, has been banned from driving for 12 months as part of his sentence.

Vu Quang Tien pleaded guilty to an illegal fishing charge and also to a charge of obstruction of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Fisheries Enforcement Officer on 26 April at Swansea Magistrates Court.

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Mr Tien and two other anglers were witnessed by NRW Fisheries Enforcement Officers deliberately using the illegal foul hooking method of fishing – also known as snatching – at the river Loughor on 15 August 2021. NRW officers attended the site after several reports of illegal fishing were made to NRW’s 24/7 incident call centre by concerned members of the community.

When approached and questioned by NRW officers, Mr Tien and his accomplices showed significant hostility and reluctance to share identification documents which eventually had to be extracted by use of reasonable force.

All of Mr Tien’s fishing tackle and fish, along with his associates’ fishing tackle was seized by NRW Officers at the time of the incident. The district judge on the day at Swansea Magistrates Court gave permission to NRW to confiscate these items permanently from each of them.

The District Judge disqualified Mr Tien from driving for 12 months due to seriousness of the incident, and the premeditated and deliberate action of travelling such a distance to commit the offence.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £2,334 in fines, NRW costs and a victim surcharge.

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Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “We would like to again thank Dyfed Powys Police, the local communities and also the law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities.

“Foul hooking is a truly barbaric form of fishing carried out by a small minority of anglers in Wales, who have no regard for fish welfare.

“NRW and the Police take these incidents seriously as do the courts.

“Hopefully, the small minority of anglers who may in future, think of using any illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines and driving ban in this case issued by the courts.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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