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Investment in tidal energy

The Western Mail reports that a Swedish company that plans to develop a tidal energy project off the coast of Anglesey has received a £2.5m funding boost:

Marine energy company Minesto, based in Gothenburg, Sweden, plans to use innovative underwater kites tethered to the sea bed to harness the energy from passing tidal currents.

The company was recently given a £9.5m investment from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government,

It is now to benefit from a £2.5m capital injection from KIC InnoEnergy, a European company that promotes innovation, entrepreneurship and education in the sustainable energy field.

The investment will put it closer to meeting the £25m cost of the scheme, which will create 30 direct jobs on the island in the short term and potentially more in the longer term.

If all goes well the company could install an initial three of its Deep Green underwater kites in Holyhead Deep as early as 2017, with a further 17 to be installed later.

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Eastern Bay Link an opportunity to sort out congestion in Adamsdown and Splott

With work about to start soon on the Eastern Bay Link Road, Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for a joined up approach to be taken between the Welsh Government and Cardiff Council in order to tackle traffic congestion in Adamsdown

The Welsh Liberal Democrats secured the funding for the Eastern Bay Link road in order to take traffic off local roads in Cardiff City Centre.

Many drivers use the streets of Adamsdown & Splott as a rat-run to avoid congestion along Newport Road and through to Cardiff Bay.

The Eastern Bay Link Road presents an opportunity to turn those congested residential streets back over to people and make them more attractive for walking and cycling as well as better places to live.

Discussions are needed between the Welsh Government and Cardiff Council to ensure that in parallel with the Eastern Bay Link Road there is a plan to create a more pleasant environment for the people who live in these suburban areas.”

Congestion through Adamsdown has increased markedly over the last few years. This hasn’t been helped by the closure of the Windsor Road Bridge, nor will it by the imminent work on the bridges on Beresford Road and Splott Road.

Local residents have suffered with unnecessary congestion for far too long. I hope that all those involved will give serious consideration to creating schemes to make Adamsdown a better and safer place to live.

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Labour’s poverty of ambition prevents people getting on housing ladder

Labour’s poverty of ambition is preventing many people from getting on the housing ladder.

On Tuesday I challenged the First Minister over his government’s failure to support people getting on the housing ladder. Figures show that people in Wales now have to borrow nearly four times their income to buy a house if they can afford the up front deposit.

Under the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ ‘Rent To Buy’ policy, young people in Wales would be able to buy their own home without a deposit. Instead first-time buyers would build up a share in their home through monthly payments equivalent to rent until they own the property outright after 30 years, just like a normal mortgage.

The First Minister and his government are failing to tackle the dire lack of affordable homes in Wales. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have recently announced they will double the Welsh Government’s target by building 20,000 new affordable homes during the next Assembly.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the only party with the ambition to tackle Wales’ housing crisis. We would build 20,000 new affordable homes during the next Assembly as we believe that every person should be able to provide a secure environment for their family.

The Labour Government in Wales is more interested in spending over a billion pounds on the M4 relief road than using some of that money to put a roof over people’s heads. They have completely the wrong priorities.

We are the only party offering proposals that would hugely help young people get on the housing ladder. Under our proposals, it doesn’t matter what your background or family circumstance is, if you can afford your rent then we will help you own your home – something nearly everyone dreams of.

It’s time Labour started treating housing seriously. For too long it’s been an afterthought for this government.

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We must slash VAT on hotels and tourist attractions

VAT on small hotels and holiday attractions should be drastically slashed to boost tourism.

The party would reduce the tax from 20 per cent to just 5 per cent to further help the industry.

This is part of a Liberal Democrat plan to make the UK more attractive as a holiday direction and create a jobs revolution in the sector.

It means the UK would follow the lead of 25 of 28 EU member states who have cut VAT on tourist accommodation and attractions.

The issue was proposed by the Welsh Liberal Democrats at the Liberal Democrats’ autumn conference and was passed by members.

Local hotels, B&Bs and our holiday hotspots are the backbone of our economy and they need more help and support.

Tourism accounts for 10 per cent of our economy and employs three million people, with nearly half of those jobs taken up by young people.

But we have some of the higher VAT laws in Europe, with the vast majority of EU countries having already lowered the tax on the industry.

“If we want to boost tourism, create more jobs and continue to showcase the best of Britain, it’s time we gave the sector a helping hand.

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Increased Passenger numbers welcomed but airport concerns need to be resolved

Passenger numbers at Cardiff Airport increased by 10% during June to August. This news is to be welcomed but it does come from a very low base. Whilst 422,172 passengers passed through Cardiff Airport during the peak summer months, over 3 million did the same at Edinburgh Airport.

Bristol Airport had its busiest month ever in August, with over 768,000 passing through its terminal. And there’s no reason why Cardiff Airport shouldn’t be achieving similar figures.

2015 has so far been a year of mixed fortunes for our airport with the loss of flights from CityJet and Links Air and clearly more needs to be done to attract a wider range of airlines to make the airport more sustainable.

The recent increase in flights by Flybe is a step in the right direction, but the situation isn’t helped by suggestions that the Welsh Government may have breached state aid rules in getting those flights here.

These concerns need to be resolved as a matter of urgency before they become a barrier to attracting more airlines to Cardiff Airport.

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Value of apprenticeships not recognised by Labour Ministers

Labour Ministers in Cardiff Bay are failing to truly recognise the benefits of apprenticeships to the Welsh economy.

A report by the National Training Federation Wales entitled The Value of Apprenticeships to Wales notes that there is a “£74 return for every £1 invested compared to a £57 return for every £1 invested for the average degree”.

Despite this, Labour Ministers have chosen to cut funding to apprenticeship schemes in recent budgets, instead favouring less effective work experience schemes like Jobs Growth Wales. A Welsh Government evaluation of Jobs Growth Wales found that 73% of participants would have found a job without the help of the scheme.

In their budget deal with the Welsh Government, the Welsh Liberal Democrats secured funding for an extra 5,000 apprenticeship starts in 2015/16 and 2016/17 in the face of cuts by Labour Minsters.

The evidence that apprenticeships provide a huge boost to our economy and the apprentice is clear – it’s why Liberal Democrats put so much emphasis on doubling the number of apprenticeships while in Government.

This report provides a compelling case for boosting investment in Welsh apprenticeships. Why then was it left to the Welsh Liberal Democrats to mitigate Labour’s cuts to Welsh apprenticeship funding?

Instead of boosting investment in apprenticeships which have a proven positive effect on the economy, Labour Ministers would rather plough money into the ineffective Jobs Growth Wales, despite the fact that most participants would have found a job without it.

The inability for Labour Ministers to recognise the benefits of apprenticeships to the Welsh economy, and prioritise them accordingly, is shocking. We need a proper economic vision for Wales from our Government – sadly Labour is falling way short of the mark.

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