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  1. Nick Powell

Support for new motorway tested in Senedd vote

There's no agreement on the best solution to congestion on the M4 around Newport Credit: PA

Conservative AMs will force a vote in the Senedd today on whether there should be a review of the Welsh Government's plan to build a new motorway south of Newport to relieve pressure on the existing M4.

The £1 billion project is highly controversial, both because of its cost and because of the environmental impact on the Gwent Levels wetlands. Some business groups prefer the idea of upgrading the existing Southern Distributor Road to a motorway, arguing that it would be a cheaper and quicker solution.

That's angered residents who live near the distributor road who fear the noise and pollution that might be caused by a motorway. Now the Conservatives' transport spokesman, Byron Davies, says he's not convinced that a full motorway is required and that more modest improvements might be enough to relieve pressure on the M4.

It doesn't have to be a motorway.

– Shadow Transport Minister Byron Davies AM

That's roughly in line with what the Liberal Democrats have been arguing, while Plaid Cymru oppose spending such a major part of the transport budget on just one road scheme.

There's also been opposition from some Labour AMs, including two former ministers. So it would appear that most Assembly Members at least have doubts about the project. The Welsh Government has already conceded that construction work won't get the go-ahead before the 2016 Assembly election.

Pembrokeshire Coast Path repairs completed

Repairs to the path near Aberbach, Dinas were the last. Credit: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority says it's completed more than £70,000 repairs on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail in the last 12 months, in the wake of the damage caused by last year’s severe storms.

It says the combination of extreme weather and high tides washed away bridges, undermined steps and meant some parts of the Coast Path had to be resurfaced or realigned.

Many of the repairs were finished in time for the start of last year’s busy summer season, but the unprecedented spread and scale of the damage meant that some of work had to be completed later.

The National Park Authority’s Warden Teams must be commended for completing these repairs as quickly as possible, with close communication with coastal landowners.

– Dave MacLachlan, Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail Officer


Vale of Glamorgan becomes 7th council to ban sky lanterns

The Vale of Glamorgan Council has become the latest to ban the release of sky lanterns from all council land. The ban also applies to any events organised on council land.

Credit: PA

In October 2013, the Welsh Government wrote to local authorities encouraging them to introduce a voluntary ban.

The Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff, Caerphilly, Carmarthenshire, Conwy, Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire, are the seven authorities out of 22 that have done so.

Animal charity RSPCA Cymru says Sky lanterns (also known as Chinese lanterns) can harm wildlife, livestock and other animals by causing injuries that can lead to a slow and painful death.

Whilst an outright ban remains RSPCA Cymru's objective, local authorities can deliver a powerful statement to their local community and beyond by implementing voluntary bans on the land which they control.

– RSPCA Cymru

Plans for over a thousand homes discussed

Plans for over 1,700 homes at Bodelwyddan in Denbighshire will be discussed today.

Plans for nearly 2,000 homes in Denbighshire will proposed later. Credit: David Davies/PA Archive

The application is an outline proposal for the development of 1,715 dwellings including affordable dwellings, an up to 80 bed care home and 50 close care flats, an up to 100 bedroom hotel, a new primary school and two local centres.

It also includes a new access and a link between A55 Junction 26 and Sarn Road, pedestrian and cycle routes.

Areas of formal and informal open space, green space and structural landscaping and drainage infrastructure are also envisioned.

The planning application was submitted to the Council in December 2013, and a consultation took place between January and March 2014.


Clean-up after oil spill into river hits community

Officers from Natural Resources Wales have launched an investigation and clean-up operation after 300-400 litres of oil leaked into the River Berem in Pontyberem over the weekend.

Residents complained of fumed from the spill Credit: google maps

The source of the pollution was traced to a nearby residential heating oil tank where it is believed an act of vandalism led to the spill says NRW.

NRW are now working closely with Carmarthenshire County Council, Dyfed Powys Police, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service and Public Health Wales to manage the impact of the incident on the environment, local people and the homeowners.

There is only a slight sheen on the river and the smell has almost gone. The oil isn’t pleasant we don’t expect it to cause long lasting damage to the environment. We are also working with the local authorities and the police to support the homeowners. They are an elderly couple who are shocked by the incident so we are making sure that they are kept safe and warm at this difficult time.”

– Natural Resources Wales

Bid to get Barry Island Pleasure Park restored by Easter

In recent years the site has fallen into disrepair and it closed in September 2014 Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

It was once one of Wales' most popular seaside destinations. At its peak, the Barry Island Pleasure Park and beach attracted half a million visitors in just a weekend. But in recent years the park has fallen into disrepair.

Now there's new hope for the amusement park after a businessman launched a bid to restore the dilapidated site.

Henry Danter has announced a £20m plan to bring back the fairground rides and build new apartments. And he's hoping to get the first 10 rides up and running by April.

I have a lot of passion and love for it and it's sad to see it in the state it's in today but we are going to try and make it better than it's ever been.

– Henry Danter
Plans include a new 25,000 sq ft arcade Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Henry is currently in crucial talks and, if given the go ahead, he plans to start work on the site immediately.

The regeneration would include a 25,000 sq ft indoor arcade, shops and new fairground rides.

Once opened, the park would also create 10 local jobs, but more could follow as the site expands.

At its peak, Barry Island would attract nearly half a million in a weekend Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Henry Danter's family is familiar with the funfair industry with three generations in the business. He also has strong links to Barry Island, having visited the amusement park when he was a young boy.

I have had a lot of fun days spent in Barry from the time I was born. It was always a day to remember. It's a matter of knowing this park all my life, always having a love for Barry. Having a vision for it and when you see something that used to be so good turn into something so bad, it's a challenge.

– Henry Danter

Negotiations are still ongoing between Henry and relevant councils.

Work starts on multi-million pound revamp of St Fagans museum

The revamp will include a new visitor experience Credit: Kier Construction

Work is to start on a multi-million pound revamp of St Fagans National History Museum.

It's thanks to one of the largest grants ever awarded by the Heritage Lottery fund in Wales.

£11.5 million is being invested into the redevelopment of the site on the outskirts of Cardiff.

St Fagans is one of Wales' most popular tourist attractions in Wales Credit: Kier Construction

Part of the revamp will include a new visitor experience integrating national collections of archaeology and social history.

The project is also being supported by the Welsh Government which has given £6 million of funding support.

The redevelopment will create over a 1000 volunteering placements and offer educational visits for schools.

St Fagans was established as the first open-air museum in 1948 and is currently one of Wales' most popular tourist attractions with over 600,000 visitors every year.

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