Column 13th July 2017

The Welsh Labour Government are aiming for the Welsh public sector to be carbon neutral by 2030. The Welsh Government invests over £2 million a year to identify and support renewable energy projects and energy efficiency projects within the public sector. Natural Resources Wales’ (NRW) is already making progress through its Carbon Positive Project which is being funded by the Welsh Government. Calculations show that the organisation is net carbon positive which means it stores more carbon annually than it releases through its operations. I’m delighted to say NRW will be installing charging points, procuring electric vehicles, as well looking to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings. This is something highlighted in the Rural Wales strategy for the future I launched last week.

The consultation on Superfast broadband has been extended by two weeks. Homes and businesses which do not yet have the option to access superfast broadband have an opportunity to let the Welsh Government know as it plans how to connect the hardest to reach premises. An interactive map can help residents and businesses check if they are already included on the list. Better broadband connections mean better business opportunities in regions like Mid and West Wales. I hope you’ll have your say here: https://consultations.gov.wales/consultations/next-generation-access-broadband

Travel in the region also has its challenges, especially for people without access to a car. A ground breaking new pilot offering free weekend bus travel to passengers across Wales started last Saturday for all buses on the extensive TrawsCymru until at least May 2018. The free service is subject to availability, but the Welsh Government has also provided extra money for local authorities so that operators are able to deploy more buses to meet increased demand if necessary. Operators of other local bus services will also be reimbursed should they experience any reduction of passengers as a result of this pilot scheme, although the Welsh Government is optimistic it will have the opposite effect.

I’m absolutely delighted that Communities and Children’s Secretary Carl Sargeant has just announced a grant of £500,000 towards Neyland Community Hub. This is part of almost £4 million the Labour Welsh Government is investing to improve community facilities across Wales.