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Farming family highlight benefits of solar power

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Wyn and Eurig: Checking on the morning’s energy production

Wyn and Eurig: Checking on the morning’s energy production

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.

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Ceredigion dog breeder fined for failing to comply with dog breeding licence

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A CROWN COURT has upheld a conviction that the dogs under the care of Mr. Jones were kept in overcrowded conditions in contravention of the minimum space standards required by the license conditions.

Other convictions were overturned.

On 27 November 2020, and 22December 2020, the Crown Court heard an appeal by Mr. Dorian Wyn Jones, of Dorwan Kennels, Penrheol, Talsarn, relating to convictions for failing to comply with dog breeding licence conditions. 

Mr. Dorian Wyn Jones had previously been convicted at Aberystwyth Magistrates Court of running a licenced dog breeding establishment far in access of the number allowed on his licence and that the dogs in his care were kept in overcrowded conditions.

The Court heard evidence that Mr Dorian Wyn Jones had been granted a licence for 33 dogs. However, during a visit undertaken by Ceredigion County Council’s Public Protection Officers on the 07 August 2019, they found 91 dogs at the premises excluding puppies, in breach of his license. The dogs were kept in pens of a size that were inadequate for the number of dogs kept within them.

On 9 February 2021, Dorian Jones was fined £1000 for the overcrowding offence, and ordered to pay legal costs amounting to £2500. 

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Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, dies aged 99

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The Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen’s ‘strength and stay’ for 73 years, has died aged 99.

Prince Philip’s health had been slowly deteriorating for some time. He announced he was stepping down from royal engagements in May 2017, joking that he could no longer stand up. He made a final official public appearance later that year during a Royal Marines parade on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

Since then, he was rarely seen in public, spending most of his time on the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk, though moving to be with her at Windsor Castle during the lockdown periods throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and where the couple quietly celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in November 2020. He also celebrated his 99th birthday in lockdown at Windsor Castle.

The duke spent four nights at King Edward VII hospital in London before Christmas 2019 for observation and treatment in relation to a “pre-existing condition”.

Despite having hip surgery in April 2018, he attended the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a month later and was seen sitting beside the Queen at a polo match at Windsor Great Park in June. He and the Queen missed Prince Louis of Cambridge’s christening in July 2018, but he was seen attending Crathie Kirk near Balmoral in August, and driving his Land Rover in the surrounding Scottish countryside in September.

It is expected that flags on landmark buildings in Britain will be lowered to half-mast as a period of mourning is announced.

The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford has expressed his sadness on the news of the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and offered condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal family on behalf of the Welsh Government.

He said: “It is with sadness that we mourn the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. Throughout his long and distinguished life, he served the crown with selfless devotion and generosity of spirit.

We offer our sincere condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, his children and their families on this sad occasion.

He will be missed by the many organisations that he supported as Patron or President over many decades of service”.Andrew RT Davies, the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, has led tributes to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose death was announced today.

In light of the sad news from Buckingham Palace, campaigning has been paused with immediate effect.

Mr Davies said: “This is a very sad day for the United Kingdom.
“The Duke of Edinburgh led a remarkable life, excelled himself with his career in the Royal Navy, was the strength and stay to Her Majesty The Queen, and has left a legacy to the nation through the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

“Dutiful, devoted, and diligent, his like will never be seen again, and Welsh Conservatives offer their deepest condolences to The Queen, and the rest of the Royal Family.”

Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru said: “On behalf of Plaid Cymru, I send my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and her family. Many young people in Wales will have benefited from the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme, a reflection of many decades of his public service. Thoughts are with the Royal Family at this time.”

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Elin Jones calls for a plan to revive Aberystwyth town centre

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AS NON-ESSENTIAL retail re-opens on April 12, many of larger shops in Aberystwyth town centre will not be re-opening, with head offices scaling back on their presence on high streets across the UK.

In Aberystwyth, their absence will be particularly obvious with many of these retailers being located along Great Darkgate Street. Multiple retailers such as Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Clinton Cards, Edinburgh Woolen Mill, M&Co and Lloyds Pharmacy will not be reopening leaving a large proportion of empty properties.

These closures are in stark contrast to many independent retailers on Aberystwyth’s other streets looking to expand or start.

Commenting on this issue, Elin Jones said: “It’s time for a major rethink for Aberystwyth’s Great Darkgate Street.

“The multiple larger retailers are turning their back on our town centre and now we need to re-focus these large premises in order to make them more attractive and accessible to independent, local businesses. There have been smaller independent shops opening along other streets in Aberystwyth and throughout Ceredigion, so there is definitely businesses who could be persuaded to have a presence on the high street.

‘It would be great to see a partnership effort in the town to persuade the absentee landlords to give rent-free start up opportunities, to re-purpose the larger premises to suit smaller businesses and to ensure the buildings look attractive on the street.

‘Welsh Government has confirmed that no rates will need to be paid for this whole financial year and therefore now is a great opportunity to support small local businesses to reclaim their place on Great Darkgate Street.

‘It is the town’s largest street and needs to be a star attraction in Ceredigion.’

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