A BEEF and sheep farming family from Blaenffos have highlighted the benefits of solar power to their business but stressed the importance of improvement to infrastructure to further develop the sector.
Wyn and Glenda Jones, of Pantyderi and Trefach farms, together with their son Eurig, rear beef and sheep plus arable acreage for home consumption on both holdings which run to 1,000 acres in total.
Across the two businesses the family farm 70 suckler cows, 400 store cattle, and 2,000 breeding ewes. Since 1985, the family also offer selfcatering cottages all year round.
In 2012 the Jones family decided to diversify into renewable energy and installed 104kw of solar panels.
There are now two installations of 50kw at Pantyderi and a 4kw installation at Trefach for domestic use.
Renewable energy schemes produce more than 20% of the UK’s electricity, and EU targets mean that this is likely to increase to 30% by 2020.
The first 50kw solar installation was put up in 2012 at Pantyderi and was followed by an additional 50kw the following year.
The opportunity to diversify into renewable energy came as threephase electricity was already on the farm with access to the main line.
And when Western Power decided to upgrade the existing transformer on the farm in 2012, which had been there since 1945, it was too good a chance to miss.
Wyn paid an extra £3000 towards putting a bigger transformer up, which then paved the way for the second installation in 2013. The payback time for the initial investment is 6 to 7 years and the installation is index linked for 20 years.
The Feed-in Tariff (FiT), from which the business benefits, is designed to support small scale renewable installations up to 5MW.
Through FiTs, generators like the Jones family, are paid a tariff for every unit of electricity they produce. Any electricity not used on site can then be sold back into the Grid.
Grid lacks capacity for renewables “We make a saving of about £5000 a year between the two units, with each of them generating approximately £7000 worth of electricity a year.
“The surplus energy we don’t use on the farm is exported back to the national grid. We receive about 14.5p for generating each unit and receive 4.5p per unit for the surplus we feed back into the grid,” explains Wyn.
“This means that we are totally self-sufficient in our electric use on the farm and all of this is produced by the sun. Even though we don’t get as much sunshine here as some other countries, it was well worth the investment,” he added.
However, when wanting to expand the current installation of solar cells, as there was plenty of room on the farm buildings, the family hit a brick wall.
Following some enquiries they were told that there was no more capacity in the grid as the infrastructure was not there to support any extra energy produced.
“We were really keen to expand our solar cell installation but because the infrastructure could not cope with any more energy being fed into the grid it was impossible. The country has a commitment to reduce its carbon footprint and its reliance on fossil fuels, so it was very disappointing for us.
“Renewable energy production is also another way for us farmers to increase our income stream and diversify our businesses.
“We can’t just rely on the price we get paid for our produce anymore, so anything we can do to support ourselves needs to be supported by government and as far as renewables are concerned also the energy companies,” added Wyn.
He added that many more farm businesses would be able to make an investment into renewable energy as a viable form of extra income that was index linked, if only the right support was out there for them.
The Union fully supports the development of appropriate onfarm renewable energy sources, and believes Wales has only scratched the surface in terms of the contribution Welsh farms can make to green energy production.
Government should do more “Despite Wales’ being perfectly suited for some forms of renewable energy generation,the percentage of electricity generated in Wales from renewable stands at just 10% – 5% lower than the UK average, and the lowest of all the UK devolved regions,” said FUW Land Use Policy Officer Bernard Griffiths.
“The decision in 2015 by the UK Government’s Department for Energy and Climate Change, which has responsibility for major national energy projects, to suddenly and drastically reduce support for renewables not only compromises our ability to help mitigate climate change, but has also led directly to farmers and others losing significant sums already invested in unfinished projects,” added Mr Griffiths.
In light of this the FUW called on Welsh Government to carefully consider the outcome of the Welsh Assembly’s Environment and Sustainability Committee’s Smarter Energy Future for Wales inquiry and to seek alternative and innovative ways in which funding can be provided in order to develop on-farm energy production.
In addition, there has to be a stronger commitment from energy companies to invest in improving infrastructure to allow those farms not currently connected to also access the renewable energy market.
The Union further asks of the Welsh Government to identify those barriers to on-farm energy production which fall within its remit and seek to reduce bureaucratic burdens which prevent or add to the financial and time burdens which prevent developments.
Mr Griffiths added that it is vital for the Welsh Government to work with Ofgem and the UK Government to ensure the costs of connection to the National Grid by electricity companies are fair and proportionate and that it encourages and facilitates the use of wood and other carbon-neutral sources of energy while ensuring food production is not compromised.
Royals set to visit Ceredigion during summer visit
AS PART of their annual summer visit to Wales, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will be visiting Ceredigion next month.
From July 2-6, Charles and Camilla will tour the country, undertaking over 20 engagements across the country.
On July 3, The Prince of Wales will visit Dà Mhìle Distillery, Llandysul, the first organic distillery in the UK approved by the Soil Association, where he was previously gifted the thousandth bottle to be produced by Dà Mhìle.
The Prince of Wales will also visit St. Gwenog’s Church, Llanwenog, and view their unique carvings created by Joseph Reubens, a Belgian World War One refugee. His Royal Highness will also meet members of their local community.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall’s fourteenth annual Summer visit to Wales will feature celebrations to mark the 70th Anniversary of The National Health Service and the marking the 150th anniversary of the Heart of Wales railway line amongst other events.
A Clarence House spokesperson said: “The Prince and The Duchess are really looking forward to their annual summer visit to Wales where they will be celebrating key anniversaries for the National Health Service, the Heart of Wales railway line and the 90th anniversary of Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisation. Their Royal Highnesses relish the opportunity to meet members of the community who are making a difference to Welsh life.”
Social media used to groom children young as six
CHILDREN as young as six in Wales have been targeted across an array of online platforms in the first year following the introduction of anti-grooming laws.
A law of Sexual Communication with a Child came into effect in England and Wales on April 3, 2017, after an NSPCC campaign, and in the first year a total of 3,171 crimes were recorded by police forces – amounting to nine grooming offences per day.
A total of 274 offences were recorded across the four Welsh police forces in the same period.
More than half of the offences in Wales were logged by South Wales Police (158) with 53 in North Wales and 44 in the Gwent force area.
Dyfed-Powys Police supplied data for the period between October 2017 and April 2018 when 19 offences were recorded.
In Wales, grooming offences were recorded on 23 different platforms, with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat comprising the top three most-commonly used with more than 120 taking place using those platforms alone.
Ninety-one crimes were reported in Wales against boys and girls aged between 12 and 15, while 56 offences were recorded against children aged 11 and under. The youngest victim recorded was just six years old.
Following the NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign, the UK Government’s digital secretary Matt Hancock announced that laws will be brought in to regulate social networks, to keep children safe and prevent harms such as grooming.
The charity is now campaigning to ensure those laws are sufficiently robust to prevent grooming and to truly keep children safe.
It is calling on Government Create mandatory safety rules that social networks are legally required to follow; Establish an independent regulator to enforce safety laws and fine non-compliant sites; Require social media sites to publish annual safety reports; Force platforms to develop technology to detect grooming using algorithms.
It comes ahead of the charity’s annual flagship conference How Safe Are Our Children? which begins on Wednesday June 20 in London and has the theme Growing Up Online.
Contact offences such as rape and sexual assault were among those recorded in connection with grooming offences.
Mared Parry, from North Wales, was sent sexual messages from men 10 years older than her on Facebook when she was aged just 14.
Mared, who has waived her right to anonymity, was groomed to send semi-naked pictures to them.
She said: “At the beginning it was messages like ‘Hey, how are you?’ But as the weeks went on, they started sending messages that were more and more sexual. It was so subtle; that’s why it is so easy for an online chat to slip into being so wrong.
“If I didn’t reply or speak the way they wanted me to, then they would say: ‘You’re just too immature for me’. They were so manipulative, but you don’t even notice it.
“Looking back at it now, it’s scary to think that I sent semi-naked pictures to older guys. It could have gone a lot further.”
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “These numbers are far higher than we had predicted, and every single sexual message from an adult to a child can have a huge impact for years to come.
“Social networks have been self-regulated for a decade and it’s absolutely clear that children have been harmed as a result.
“I urge digital secretary Matt Hancock to follow through on his promise and introduce safety rules backed up in law and enforced by an independent regulator with fining powers.
“Social networks must be forced to design extra protections for children into their platforms, including algorithms to detect grooming to prevent abuse from escalating.”
In Wales, NSPCC Cymru has called for the Welsh Government to co-ordinate and progress efforts to keep children as safe in their online worlds as they are offline.
Last year, Welsh Government announced plans to produce a children and young persons’ online safety action plan.
The NSPCC hopes it will deliver practical help and support for schools, parents and others in Wales involved in child protection online when it is published.
How Safe Are Our Children? takes place at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, in Westminster, London on June 20-21.
Grant money available to improve play areas in Ceredigion
CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL has been awarded £100,800 from the Welsh Government’s Rural Communities Development Fund to finance capital works in four play areas across Ceredigion.
On June 19, the Council’s Cabinet authorised the project’s commencement.
The four play areas are Ponterwyd Play Area, Llanon Tennis Courts, Llanddewi Brefi Play Area and Cardigan Skate Park. The money will improve playing and leisure opportunities in these areas.
The full cost of the work is estimated to be £126,000, with the grant contributing 80% of the cost and the town and community councils will provide the remaining 20%.
The Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services and Lifelong Learning, Councillor Catrin Miles, said, “Quality and safe playing opportunities are important to the county’s children as well as for their parents. I’m delighted that the Cabinet could authorise such a project and I’m sure the play areas will be well used after being improved.”
The project may start from July 18, 2018 and must end by April 30, 2019.
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