News in brief: New PPE factory to open in Cardiff later this month
A new £1.5 million PPE factory in Cardiff is due to start production later this month.
The plant will be the UK’s first domestic medical-grade mask factory.
Hardshell, which produces protective equipment such as body armour, has secured product certifications which allow it to become the first company in the UK to produce FFP3 masks.
The company was supported through the certification process by Life Sciences Hub Wales, which was appointed by the Welsh Government.
FFP3 masks have a minimum 99 per cent filtration efficiency and are the most protective of the EU-certified FFP masks. They are designed to protect the wearer against inhalation of fine particles such as viruses, bacteria, and asbestos.
The new facility will employ up to 40 workers and will manufacture a range of PPE items alongside FFP3 respirators, including FFP2 respirators, single-use surgical masks and reusable face masks.
It will produce up to 300,000 respirators and 1.5 million other masks per week.
Manufacturing is set to commence later this this month, once final certification is complete.
There have been no new deaths reported n Wales due to coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
The total number who have died with the virus dating back to March remains at 1,586.
Fifteen new cases of Covid-19 were reported by Public Health Wales, taking the total number of confirmed infections to 17,499.
There were 4,272 tests for coronavirus carried out on Wednesday.
New heating projects for Cardiff and Bridgend
Cardiff and Bridgend have been confirmed as the locations for new projects, which will help to heat homes and offices using the excess heat produced at industrial sites.
Cardiff Council has received an £8.6m interest-free loan from the Welsh Government to support the Cardiff City Heat Network, the first large-scale city heat network of its kind in Wales.
The loan will provide more than half of the funds needed to develop phase one of the scheme, which will use underground pipes to transport waste heat from the Viridor Energy Recovery Facility, to buildings in and around the Cardiff Bay area.
The terms of the government’s loan include incentives for expansion of the heat network into the centre of the city.
As well as the loan from Welsh Government, the first phase of the work is also supported with an £6.6m construction grant from the UK Government via the Department for Business, Energy, Industry and Strategy (BEIS).
Phase one of the project is expected to be operational in 2022.
BEIS has also confirmed £1.2m of funding for the Bridgend Heat Network, which has also been supported by the Welsh Government’s Energy Service.
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “As we continue on our path to cutting carbon emissions across Wales, one of the key problems we have face is decarbonising heat, which we can tackle by making our buildings more energy efficient, and also by changing the source of heat. As such, using waste heat in town and city centres is of great importance.
“Heat networks such as these will help home and business owners to cut their energy bills – but it will also help us to meet our goal of cutting Wales’ greenhouse gas emissions.”
Bridgend to miss out on new car plant
Ineos Automotive is expected to confirm its new Grenadier 4×4 vehicle will now be built in France, dashing the Welsh Government’s hopes that the company could be persuaded to continue with plans for a factory in Bridgend.
Last month it was announced that plans for the facility had been suspended amid reports that production could be switched to a site in Moselle, France.
The company’s new Grenadier car was to have been built next to the Ford engine plant, which is to shut this autumn with the loss of 1,700 jobs. The new factory was expected to create 500 jobs.
In a statement the company said: “Ineos Automotive is in advanced talks with Mercedes-Benz about acquiring its manufacturing site in Hambach, on the French border with Germany in Moselle.
“Although the deal is not yet done, we are confident that terms will be agreed, and that the Grenadier’s new home will be in France. Hambach is a great solution for Ineos, with a highly experienced workforce and an excellent track record amongst Mercedes plants for the quality of its product output.”
The Welsh Government was reportedly providing around £10 million to bring production to Wales and the company was also set to receive support from the UK Government.
Following confirmation of the suspension last month, Economy Minister Ken Skates said: “I have told the CEO that abandoning Bridgend at this late stage, after so much effort and money has been invested in preparing the site, would be a terrible decision for Wales and the UK.”