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Crowdfunder launched to transform Swansea into an ‘urban solar farm’

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Swansea BID (Business Improvement District) are nearing the halfway mark of the £14,000 target on their Crowdfunder campaign thanks to a generous pledge of £5000 from Swansea Council.

The Crowdfunding campaign was launched with the aim of funding a feasibility
study to see if Swansea city centre is a viable site for solar panels.

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“We want to create a more sustainable city, and we’re grateful to the Council for
pledging their support,” said Russell Greenslade, Swansea BID Chief Executive.

“Why not utilise unused space? We believe there’s so many good reasons to push
forward with this idea, especially given the rising costs of energy. If we can create a
greener space and generate our own energy, there’s potential to allow businesses
to form a consortium and use the energy they produce.”

“In the next few years, there will be a lot of change in terms of energy use and
production. We want to be part of that and push initiatives that will not only help
the environment, but the people who live and work in Swansea,” said Greenslade.

If the funding target is met, Swansea BID will commission Gower Power to
undertake the study and determine if utilising empty flat roofs to create an urban
solar farm is viable.

Discussing the proposal, Andrew Stevens, Swansea Council’s cabinet member for
environment and infrastructure, said:
“We’re pleased to pledge our support for the Solar Swansea feasibility study through
our popular Crowdfund Swansea initiative.

“The use of city centre flat roofs to generate power would help in the council’s aim
to make the city net zero by 2050.

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“Crowdfund Swansea is a platform where ideas can be shared, communities
empowered and funds can be raised to take projects forward for the benefit of our
communities.

“It’s a springboard for project ideas to attract the funding they need more easily,
whilst enabling everyone who cares about the area to contribute with pledges.”

If successful, the feasibility study findings would be published on the BID website,
and Swansea BID would push for funding from the government to commission the
project.

For more information, or to donate, see the Crowdfunder here:
https://www.spacehive.com/solar-swansea—a-feasibility-study?

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Charity

Pembrokeshire charity recruits community fuel champions

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Pembrokeshire FRAME has received funding to recruit a community fuel co-ordinator and five volunteer champions as they look to raise awareness about energy efficiency, whilst tackling fuel poverty across the county.

The funding from gas emergency and pipeline service, Wales & West Utilities, will allow the charity to act as a community point of contact for those facing fuel poverty issues and will help to make a positive difference to local communities most in need.

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The employed advisor and five volunteer champions will help individuals claim benefits, provide debt management advice and make referrals through to Wales & West Utilities existing network of partnerships. They will also be able sign people up to the Priority Services Register (PSR), make referrals for specialist support with fitting Locking Cooker Valves and distribute free carbon monoxide alarms.

Gas emergency and pipeline service, Wales & West Utilities, has provided the funding as part of its Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance (VCMA).

Paul Hughes, Chief Officer at Pembrokeshire FRAME, said: “This funding will allow us to deliver far-reaching benefits. Not only will it allow us to get into the heart of Pembrokeshire communities to help those most in need to gain specific advice on energy efficiency and gas safety, but it will allow us to provide employment and volunteering opportunities to local people.

“We are all feeling the impacts of the rising costs of living, and this funding will allow us to run a 5 day a week hotline for fuel poverty and carbon monoxide enquiries, whilst having face to face contact across communities.

“It’s great that Wales & West Utilities is supporting our efforts by providing this funding and we are hopeful that many people will benefit.”

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Pembrokeshire FRAME is a supported employment and life changing charity that transforms hundreds of lives in Pembrokeshire each year, by providing access to learning, supported and meaningful occupation, voluntary and employment opportunities and help and support to enable individuals to reach their potential. The community fuel champion will be based at the charity’s Merlin Bridge site, however, will also work in Pembroke Dock.

Tom Robinson, Social Obligations Specialist at Wales & West Utilities, said: “We’re delighted that this funding will allow Pembrokeshire FRAME to support the most vulnerable by providing vital energy efficiency advice and safety information.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to support those most in need in our communities. Working with trusted partners like Pembrokeshire FRAME means we can help more people stay safe in their own homes.”

Between April 2021 to March 2026, Wales & West Utilities has £7m to spend on projects which support consumers in vulnerable situations and raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide and keep people safe from the ‘silent killer’.

Carbon monoxide (CO), known as the ‘silent killer’ because you can’t see it, smell it or taste it, kills 50 people a year in England and Wales and hospitalises many more. In the UK, there are more than 4,000 visits to Accident & Emergency for treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning – which can often lead to lasting neurological damage. Even low levels of exposure over an extended period can cause serious health issues, including brain injuries.

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Funding is made from the Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance (VCMA), and 75% of the money will be spent on projects relevant to Wales and south west England only, while 25% will be spent on collaborative projects with the other gas networks across the whole of the UK.

(Lead image: Wales & West Utilities)

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Energy

Urgent action required to tackle UK energy shortages and secure future energy production says farming union

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Urgent action is required now more than ever to tackle the UK’s energy shortages and to secure future energy production, the Farmers’ Union of Wales has agreed during a recent meeting of its Presidential Policy Team.

In his letter to the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, and Welsh Minister for Climate Change, Julie James MP, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “During the previous decade, initiatives such as Feed In Tariffs were instrumental in increasing levels of renewable energy production in Wales and the UK at the fastest rate seen to date, with renewable energy produced on farms being central to this improvement in our nations’ energy security.

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“The risks of reliance on overseas energy are now more apparent than ever, and given this, FUW PPT members believe that urgent action is needed on both a UK and national scale in order to rapidly increase renewable energy production on farms, in a way that does not compromise food production.

“While responsibility for different elements of policy relating to energy production lie with the UK and Welsh Governments, PPT members believe that urgent action is needed at all levels of government to mitigate current and future impacts of our over-reliance on imported energy – whether, for example, in terms of the restrictions placed on those farming in our National Parks where sources of renewable energy abound but renewable energy initiatives are obstructed, or in terms of UK-wide policies that genuinely incentivise and reward those who are contributing to reductions in carbon emissions through renewable energy production.”

Given such concerns, the FUW believes that as a matter of urgency, barriers should be removed and initiatives enhanced in order to increase levels of renewable energy production on farms.

FUW President, Glyn Roberts

“PPT members also highlighted that one of the barriers to such renewable energy production was the cost of connection of viable schemes to the National Grid, and the fact that such connection fees often appeared to at the best capitalise on, and at worst obstruct, such initiatives despite them being in our nations’ interests.” he said.

In light of the above, Mr Roberts urged the UK and Welsh Governments to do all they can, and to work with colleagues in other administrations, to ensure that all actions possible are taken to further increase renewable energy production in Wales and the UK without compromising agricultural production.

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Energy

Older people in Swansea face misery as cost-of-living increases, warns local charity

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Older people will face the real possibility of not being able to heat their homes or even afford food, as the cost-of-living crises intensifies, warns a local Swansea charity.

Care & Repair Western Bay support thousands of older homeowners in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot and have raised the alarm as many of those they help are “extremely worried”.

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Care & Repair Western Bay Chief Officer, Emma Tweed, said: “We believe that everyone deserves to live independently for as long as possible. Yet, with the cost-of-living rising the situation is becoming desperate. Therefore, as the local elections near, we are calling on local councillors to do everything they can to ensure our older loved ones are not abandoned.”

Latest figures for the city show that it now costs up to £1,021 every year on average to heat our homes. Even before the cost-of-living crisis, 18% of our over 65’s were already in poverty. With few options to offset this increase in cost, it is older people who will struggle the most with the sudden rise in bills.

With the cost-of-living so high many will turn off their heating altogether, yet evidence shows that living in a cold home worsens health conditions associated with later life, such as Alzheimer’s and respiratory conditions.

Rising costs of materials are making repairs harder, and some households have put off repairs for several years because of Covid. The condition of a property impacts on the well-being of those who live there, with a cold and damp house likely to cause significant health issues.

For vulnerable older and disabled people, there is support available. Care & Repair Western Bay’s Caseworkers can visit older people at home and provide free advice and support on home energy saving techniques and housing improvements.

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Care & Repair Western Bay Senior Caseworker, Sandra Davies, said: “Many of my clients are extremely worried about the energy prices and the cost of living. Even my own 85-year- old father has cut right down on putting the heating on and will have an extra jacket and blanket on in the house due to the price increases. A lot of clients are also still fearful of going out due to Covid. One couple I met today have not been anywhere in the last two years and feel that their mobility and mental health have suffered.”

In Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, Care & Repair help over 6,500 older people each year, and complete over 6,000 vital repairs and adaptations so that clients can continue to live safely and independently at home.

Last year, these repairs cost nearly £1.8m. Care & Repair is able to help with the cost of works from funding received from Welsh Government, local authority, and other funds, accessed on behalf of their clients.

A major piece of advice being given by Care & Repair to older people is to make sure to claim the benefits you are entitled to.

According to the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, over £200 million of Pension Credit went unclaimed in Wales last year. Each year, Care & Repair Western Bay help hundreds of older people claim the benefits they are entitled to, raising around £1.2m extra income per year for their clients.

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If you or an older loved one needs repairs, adaptions or help with keeping your home warm, contact 01792 798599 or visit www.careandrepair.org.uk/western-bay.

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