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Council support for Botanic Gardens until 2020

Credit: ITV Cymru/Wales

Carmarthenshire County Council says it will extend its support to the National Botanic Garden of Wales until March 2020.

Members of the executive board have agreed to extend the authority’s £1.35m interest free loan to the Garden and allow the continued occupation of farmhouses, currently leased by the council, for two more years.

It says visitor numbers are up on last year by 17 per cent and income on the previous year has increased by 23 per cent.

A £7m Regency restoration project has also started with £3.55m of Heritage Lottery funding secured, aiming to boost tourism, conservation, heritage, volunteering and skills-development opportunities.

Flooding hits Anglesey and Gwynedd

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Credit: Gazelle Hotel

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service says it had around 250 calls for flooding overnight mainly on Anglesey and in Gwynedd.

Llangefni and Beumaris were badly hit. The former's Plas Arthur Leisure Centre was opened at a shelter. The A55 is still closed on Anglesey. Part of the A5 was also closed.

Train services between Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog and between Bangor and Holyhead are suspended. There are replacement bus services but Arriva Trains Wales says they may not get through because of the flooding.

There are 4 flood warnings in force:

  • River Rhyd Hir at Riverside Terrace
  • River Adda at Bangor
  • River Erch at Abererch
  • Conwy Valley

A Met Office 'be aware' alert is in force until 9am.

100 businesses call for green light for tidal lagoon 'as soon as possible'

Over 100 leading Welsh businesses have signed a letter to the Prime Minister, urging her to give the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project the green light as soon as possible.

Credit: Michael Walter/PA Archive/PA Images

The letter, which was hand-delivered to 10 Downing Street today has been signed by companies in South West Wales including Tata Steel UK, Penderyn, Castell Howell Foods, WRW Construction and Andrew Scott Ltd.

Chris Pearlman, Swansea City Football Club's Chief Operating Officer, and Roger Blythe, Chairman of Ospreys Rugby, have also signed the letter, along with senior representatives of major companies including Cuddy Group, Dawnus Construction Holdings, Coastal Housing, Day's Rental and Owens Group.

Together, the companies who have signed the letter employ more than 30,000 people.

It's now been over 10 months since Charles Hendry, the UK Government's own independent inspector, concluded that the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon is a 'no regrets' option.

All we've heard since then is that the Government will make a decision is due course, but enough is enough. Investor confidence in the scheme means a decision is time-critical, so I'm calling on the Prime Minister to listen to the people of South Wales and approve this project now.

– Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader

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Agreement to be made between UK and Welsh government on water power

An agreement over water is to be made which will see powers shared between the UK and Welsh governments.

Credit: Neil Squires/Press Association Images

The UK Government currently has powers which mean it could intervene if it believes devolved functions risk having a 'serious adverse impact' on water resources, water supply or water quality in England.

The new deal will mean UK ministers will no longer be able to intervene in decisions made in Wales.

The introduction of this protocol addresses an existing imbalance in the devolution settlement that could, in theory, result in UK Government Ministers intervening in matters that are the responsibility of the Welsh Government.

I am pleased with the constructive and positive way in which both administrations have approached the drafting and implementation of an agreement which, importantly, means water consumers on both sides of the border are safeguarded.

– Lesley Griffiths AM, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs

Transporter Bridge in bid for £10m

Credit: Newport Council

Newport City Council is to submit a bid for £10 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to carry out work on the iconic Transporter Bridge.

The Bridge, which can be seen from many points across the city with its huge metal structure and gondola used to carry vehicles across the River Usk, is now closed for the winter season.

The Heritage Lottery Bid would be used to carry out repairs, restoration of the gondola, improvements to the site and building a new visitor centre

The bridge is one of five remaining operational transporter bridges worldwide and is the most complete original structure of all the remaining Transporter Bridges.

The council bid for funding would be up against projects from across the UK and there is no guarantee a bid will be successful.

Ice sheet research: 'bigger tides in North Wales'

Credit: NASA/UPI/PA Images

Joint research by scientists at Bangor University claims the effects of melting ice sheets will go far beyond just changing water levels. It could have further reaching impacts on global climate.

They say along some coastlines the tidal range will be greatly increased, for example the North Wales coastline, whilst along others, like South Wales, the tidal range will be reduced. Moreover many functions of the ocean will be altered by the changes in the tides.

Tides currently play a key role in sustaining the large-scale ocean currents which redistribute heat from the tropics to higher latitudes and are responsible for the mild climate in the UK. Predictions provided by the new model show that the collapse of the ice sheets will significantly impact the global tides which could in turn impact ocean current systems which are important for our climate.

The global changes in the tides will also have profound impacts on a wide range of other ocean functions, such as changes to the regions of the ocean which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and on the ecosystems of the temperate (shallow) shelf seas surrounding the continents.

– Dr Sophie-Berenice Wilmes, Bangor University

Cardiff researchers find new species of Orangutan

A Sumatran Orangutan. Credit: Junaidi/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

An international team, including researchers from Cardiff University, has discovered a new orangutan species in Indonesia.

Pongo Tapanuliensis, otherwise known as the Tapanuli Orangutan, was found in the three Tapanuli districts of North Sumatra after analysis of the ape inhabitants of the Batang Toru Ecosystem.

The Batang Toru populations of orangutans in Sumatra were only rediscovered fairly recently in 1997. However, it wasn’t until 2013 that the researchers received the skeleton of an adult male orangutan that was killed during conflict, and we realised that there were significant physical and genetic differences in these apes.

By comparing the skull to other orangutans, it was clear that this skull showed dramatic differences. This suggested that the Batang Toru population was potentially unique, so our international team of researchers worked together to gather further evidence

– Dr Benoit Goossens, Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences
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