Anglesey says No to Pylons campaign comes to Senedd

Fideo ddwyieithog / Bilingual Video

Thank you to all the campaigners who travelled down from Anglesey to Cardiff and to all the AMs who supported us in sending a message to National Grid that pylons would be a blight on our island and they should instead put cables underground. The Assembly have spoken with one voice on this, the people of Anglesey and all its elected representatives have spoken with one voice on this. It’s time for Grid to listen.

AM asks for support for Holyhead Marina and for lessons to be learnt after storm Emma response

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth today asked Welsh Government for an update on the clean up work at Holyhead following storm Emma at the beginning of the month.

However, he was disappointed with the response, considering the environmental and economic impact of the damage, and the concerns still being expressed by the marina and local people about the clean up effort.

In his question to the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs at the Assembly today, Rhun ap Iorwerth asked:

“Looking back, I think there are some serious questions about the speed of the response to what happened in Holyhead. I think it’s quite clear that there was, and remains, a grave environmental issue. So, perhaps you could update us on whether, on reflection, there was a missed opportunity to get in early, to deal with the environmental impacts of what’s happened. And what lessons have been learned, in terms of making sure that, if there’s disagreement about who exactly should take over, Welsh Government can step in, or your relevant bodies?

“Secondly, looking forward, because that’s crucial now, we do need assurances about what is happening. I’ve heard reports this morning of people returning from sea to Holyhead for the first time since the events, and being shocked at what hasn’t happened up to now. We need assurances on rebuilding the marina, on help for individuals and businesses that have been affected, and of course on the need to step up in terms of the environmental clean up, of which there is a lot yet to do. Because this still is a desperate situation in Holyhead.”

He later added:

“This was another disappointing response from the Cabinet Secretary regarding how Welsh Government and its agencies reacted to storm Emma’s destruction in Holyhead. Those working in the marina, those who have lost boats, and those who have been to Anglesey’s north west beaches themselves to clear up polystyrene because of their concern about the environmental impact tell me that the response was not quick enough, that there was confusion over who should be doing what and that the problem still remains today.

“I appreciate the Cabinet Secretary’s consideration about possible financial support for public infrastructure repair, and environmental damage clean up, but I was really hoping for more leadership on Government on this, especially considering the impact on the environment and on the local economy in Anglesey.”

Rhun seeks government help to repair damage of storm Emma in Holyhead

Following the devastating effects of storm Emma on Holyhead marina last week, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM tabled an urgent question to the Welsh Government, which was answered in the Assembly today.

The Ynys Môn Assembly Member made a plea to Welsh Government for help for the businesses affected, for an assurance that all is being done in the short-term to limit the environmental damage of the polystyrene debris, and in the more long-term for research into the possible need for a sea defence for this part of the harbor in Holyhead.

Speaking at the Senedd today, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“I was at Holyhead marina on Friday, immediately after the storm. Many of you will have seen the pictures on television. It was truly heartbreaking, utter destruction. There were many pleasure boats, which were important to the area, but there were also commercial boats in the marina, and many of those had been destroyed or partially damaged. All of the businesses using the marina make up an important part of the marine economy of Anglesey, and I would like to know what kind of support package the Government can put together to support these businesses in their hour of need in the short term.

“Secondly, and looking beyond the short term, may I be given a commitment that the Government will assist to fund research into the possible need for a sea defence for this part of the harbour in Holyhead? And would you agree that there’s an important role for the oceanography department at Bangor University in this important work, including use of their research ship, the Prince Madog?

“Finally, and crucially, you have referred to this: in the short term we are facing a grave environmental problem as a result of the storm. Now, I understand that there wasn’t too much fuel in most of the boats, and most of it has been collected, but there is certainly a huge problem in terms of the polystyrene debris and the pontoons in the marina. Now, five days later, I would like an update on what is being done to deal with the pollution, and an assurance that whatever needs to be done will be done to ensure that we don’t face more environmental destruction that we’ve already seen.”

He later added:

“I was pleased to hear the Cabinet Secretary say that she was happy to give consideration to possible financial support for public infrastructure repair, and I look forward to being updated regarding the environmental issues after her visit to Anglesey tomorrow.”

Electricity Connection should respect Future Generations Act, says AM

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth yesterday quizzed Welsh Government about the role of the Well-being of Future Generations Act in developing electricity infrastructure in Anglesey.

Rhun said that an underwater or underground connection, rather than new overhead pylons, would safeguard the interest of the people of Ynys Môn now as well as future generations, and that this was what the people of Anglesey are asking for. He pointed out that we have a Future Generations Act in Wales and this connection plan should only happen in accordance with the principles of that Act.

Speaking in the Assembly chamber, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“The National Grid intends to have a new electricity connection across Anglesey with the cost being the main, if not the only, factor in deciding what kind of connection that will be. What they intend to do, therefore, is to go for the cheapest possible option, which is pylons above ground rather than undergrounding, or placing cables underwater, which is what we on Anglesey would want to see.

“Going underwater or underground would safeguard the interests of Ynys Môn now and for future generations, and we do have a Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 here in Wales.

“You’re the Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for the implementation of that Act. Are you willing to give a commitment that you will work with me and others such as campaigners against pylons to urge the National Grid, Ofgem and the UK Government, who will ultimately make the decision, to ensure that this connection plan can only happen in accordance with the principles of this important piece of legislation passed in this place.”

In his response, the Cabinet Secretary responsible replied:

“I know of the work that you have done in the context of the island on this issue. We as a Government are working more closely with the local councils on the issues that he has alluded to.

“I was pleased to see a statement from the National Grid…on well-being where they state, in the context of the Act,

‘While these do not specifically place requirements on the National Grid or the development of new transmission lines, National Grid believes that the aims of the Act are important and deserve consideration.’

“So, there is some recognition there by the National Grid of the impact of the Act. The Act is binding as far as the local council is concerned. The Secretary of State will be influenced by it. I hear, of course, what the Member says about under grounding and over grounding and the Welsh Government’s starting position is that under grounding is the preferred option, but there will be discussions that will be needed and the local authority and Welsh Government will be involved in them as we seek to maximise the benefits for the island while mitigating the impacts of these developments.”

Speaking after the exchange in the Senedd, Rhun ap Iorwerth added:

“I will be meeting National Grid in the near future to discuss this matter further with them. Even though the Act is not binding on them, it is important that the principles of the Act are respected.”

Video: Bangor University Centre for Medical Education

An excellent meeting this morning! I want a centre to train doctors in Bangor University, as does Bangor University itself. I will continue to put pressure on Welsh Government regarding this issue – we need assurances now that there will be a significant increase in the number of doctors we want to train here in Wales, and the long-term investment needed to deliver that.

Plaid Cymru is leading on this and we’re getting there!

Video: Railways on Anglesey

In response to comments by Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth in the Assembly chamber yesterday, Welsh Government admitted to the potential of re-opening the railway to Llangefni, and to Amlwch, but also of improving links to Anglesey Airport.

Speaking at the Senedd, Rhun ap Iorwerth asked Welsh Government to move expediently towards opening the line to Llangefni, and beyond to Amlwch:

“I was pleased when you announced recently that Llangefni was on a list of stations that could be reopened. Can I ask for an assurance that that is still in the pipeline, and can I urge you to move expediently towards what I hope will be a positive outcome on the possibility of opening the line to Llangefni, opening Llangefni station, but also – and crucially – beyond Llangefni and on to Amlwch? Because opening a line to Amlwch really would be transformational for a town that has struggled of late, and we have a unique opportunity here in that we have a line there already and in very, very good condition, which just needs a little bit of upgrading and support from Welsh Government.”

Economy and Transport Secretary, Ken Skates, replied:

“The Member has been passionate about reopening the station at Llangefni, and indeed the line to Amlwch, and it’s something that I am supportive of also. We’re trying to put stations in Wales in pole position for attracting UK Government investment, but, with regard to this specific example, I’d be happy to meet with the Member to discuss progress, if it is being made, because I think it has massive potential in the short term, perhaps, as a heritage line, but in the longer term as a wholescale passenger line.

“I think there is also exciting potential in improving links between the main line and Anglesey Airport.”

AM’s appeal for government support to put right the damage caused to A545 by recent floods

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth raised an urgent question in the Assembly chamber today regarding the recent floods on Anglesey, and specifically the damage caused to the A545.

Having raised the risks to the road with Welsh Government more than once in the past, Rhun made an appeal to Welsh Government to see what financial support could be given to put right the damage caused by the floods, and was pleased to hear that the Government would consider a request for financial support.

Speaking at the Assembly today, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said:

“May I, on behalf of the Assembly, send our sympathy to everyone who was affected by the floods? I have visited most of the areas affected and it is heartbreaking to see the impact on homes, the pain and anxiety caused for people, many of them vulnerable, and businesses have also suffered — businesses like Becws Glandwr in Llangefni, for example, who was unable to bake for the first time in 40 years.

“There are many elements of the floods where I’ll need to be in touch with Government and its agencies in terms of flood prevention, but I am pleased to have this opportunity to specifically discuss the damage caused to the A545 between Menai Bridge and Beaumaris, and the long-term impacts of that.

“I do want to congratulate the council for responding quickly. I spoke to engineers on Friday, as they carried out emergency works in order to try and reopen that road, and that was on a very steep slope that went directly to the sea. I do very much hope that one lane of the two will be open soon, because at the moment there is no road open for all vehicles to travel to Beaumaris at all. It’s possible for cars to use back roads, but I’ve spoken to businesses who have to travel with vans to meet lorries that deliver goods to them but can’t get to Beaumaris at all because of low bridges into the town.

“There have been many landslides on this particular road in the past, but they were landslides onto the road from above. This time, it’s been a landslide from the road towards the sea. That is far more serious because it threatens the foundations of the road itself, of course. In the past, I’ve drawn the Government’s attention to the fears that works need to be done to strengthen this road substantially to safeguard it for the future, and the costs are going to be significant.

“So, may I appeal to Government to see what financial support can be provided to the Isle of Anglesey County Council first of all, in order to put right the damage caused by these floods—that’s likely to be £0.25 million—but also to do the strengthening work required for the long-term resilience? Beaumaris and the east of Anglesey can’t afford to be isolated in this way, and without investment now and support from Government I fear that that is what will happen more and more often in the future.”

In his response, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport said that he was willing to consider a request for financial support to address this matter. In response to Rhun’s questions, he said:

“Can I thank the Member for the previous question, Presiding Officer, and add my sympathies to those who are affected by the floods, not just the motorists who were largely featured in the media but also the many businesses and home owners who were affected by recent floods?

“The Member was right to outline the A545 as the responsibility of the Isle of Anglesey council, but my officials have already met with the local authority to discuss possible ways of improving the road’s infrastructure and its resilience, and I’ve been in correspondence with the local authority with regard to the landslip experienced on the A545. I’m pleased to be able to say that I have already confirmed my willingness to consider a request for financial support to address such problems, and I also understand that the local authority are having discussions with Beaumaris Town Council on a possible improvement that could be partly funded as well by the town council. Between all of us working together, I hope that we will be able to bring greater security to the people of Beaumaris and indeed Anglesey and ensure that future floods do not affect people in the way that these floods recently have done.”