News in brief: Covid cases in Wales hit 18-week high
Covid cases in Wales are back at the levels recorded in February, according to the latest figures from Public Health Wales.
In the 48 hours up to 9am on Sunday, 670 people tested positive for the virus, as the weekly case rate across Wales rose to 53.1 per 100,000 people, the highest since the week ending 21 February and a jump from 42.3 on Friday.
Over the seven days up to 23 June, there were 1,675 new cases, the highest total in 18 weeks and a rise of more than 40% from the previous week.
Cardiff (96) recorded the highest number of new cases up to Sunday morning followed by Wrexham (73) and Flintshire (70).
The surge of cases in Flintshire has taken the weekly case rate to 142.9, the highest in Wales since the rate in Wrexham hit 199.3 over the week ending 7 February. The positive test rate is also the highest in the country at 8.2% per 100,000 tests.
Ten of the 22 local authorities in Wales now have weekly case rates over 50.00.
The R number, which estimates the virus’s ability to spread from one infected person, has gone up to between 1.6 and 1.8 according to PHW data released last week and the time calculated for the number of cases to double across the whole of Wales is down to 7.6 days.
Hospital admissions remain low but in England, where the Delta variant is rapidly spreading, the number of people requiring hospital treatment has grown rapidly and there was an increase of over 40% in the number of people occupying ventilation beds in the last week.
On Saturday PHW also released figures that confirmed cases of coronavirus in Welsh schools had reached their highest level since the height of the second Wave of the pandemic last December and had more than tripled in the last three weeks.
Former Tory leader ‘confident’ he didn’t break lockdown rules
Paul Davies, the former leader of the Tory group in the Senedd, says he is “confident” he didn’t break any rules after being accused along with three other MSs of breaking lockdown regulations by drinking alcohol in the Senedd tearoom last December.
Mr Davies quit as leader following the incident which also involved, Conservative MSs Darren Millar and MS Nick Ramsay, Labour MS Alun Davies, and the Conservative group’s chief of staff.
Senedd officials referred the matter to the parliament’s own standards watchdog and Cardiff Council but the outcome of their investigations is yet to be published.
Speaking on BBC Radio Cymru’s Dewi Llwyd programme, Mr Davies said: “I resigned because I was under the spotlight, the story was a distraction from the important issues at the time, such as the Welsh government’s performance on its vaccination programme as they tackled coronavirus.
“And I resigned for the sake of the Conservative group, for my party’s sake and for the sake of my family and also because of the negative publicity.
“But I’m confident that I haven’t broken the rules, but you wouldn’t expect, of course, for me to make any other comments on this matter now given that those investigations into the events are ongoing.
“The only other thing I would say, of course, is I’m disappointed that the investigations have gone on so long and, hopefully, now those investigations will end as soon as possible.”
Measures to protect businesses from eviction extended until September
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething has announced an extension of the measures put in place to protect businesses affected by the Coronavirus pandemic from eviction.
The moratorium against forfeiture for the non-payment of rent was due to expire on 30 June but will now run until 30 September.
Businesses are being advised to continue to pay rent wherever possible and are urged to reach negotiated agreements on any arrears if possible.
“We’re committed to doing all we can do secure jobs and livelihoods. That’s why I’m today announcing a further extension of measures to prevent forfeiture for the non-payment of rent, which will protect businesses from eviction,” Mr Gething said.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve committed more than £2.5 billion to businesses across Wales, in addition to our business-as-usual support through Business Wales.”
In addition to the moratorium on evictions, Welsh businesses will also benefit from the government’s full rates relief scheme for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses for this financial year.
Plans advanced for new Deeside power facility
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
A new plant could be created at a Deeside incinerator to turn non-recyclable waste into energy.
The advanced gasification facility would be built at Parc Adfer on Deeside Industrial Park to treat up to 80,000 tonnes of what is known as refuse derived fuel (RDF) per year.
The aim is to produce 9.9 megawatts of electricity, most of which will be used to power the wider waste facility and prevent non-recyclable items from having to be taken away from the site.
According to documents submitted to Flintshire Council, some of it would also be used to fuel the nearby Toyota factory.
In a planning statement, consultants acting on behalf of Logik WTE Ltd, said: “The current planning application proposes the erection of an advanced gasification plant within the site in order to carry out the final stage of the process at this one location.
“Planning Policy Wales contains significant support for waste transfer facilities to meet industry needs, and furthermore makes clear that the favoured outcome is a clean energy.
“This proposal provides a facility that takes a waste product through a number of processes, including incineration, and results in the generation of electricity for use on and off the site.
“The proposal, therefore, has full regard for and is in complete compliance with the waste hierarchy.
“The proposed development accords with the key principles of Planning Policy Wales as well as local policies in the adopted Flintshire Unitary Development Plan.”
Parc Adfer first started running at full capacity in December 2019 and took in around 550 truckloads of non-recyclable waste per month in its first full year of operation.
The amount of rubbish delivered by five of the six local authorities across north Wales, except for Wrexham, increased significantly during the summer months last year.
Officials said this was caused by people spending more time at home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Comments are currently being invited on the latest proposals for the site with the local authority expected to make a decision at a later date.