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Oil waste plans postponed

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Pyrolysis plant: The kind proposed by Barcud Energy Ltd.

Pyrolysis plant: The kind proposed by Barcud Energy Ltd.

A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build a pyrolysis unit at Waterloo, Pembroke Dock has been withdrawn from consideration by the County Council’s Planning Committee on December 16. The application will be considered at a later date. The planned development at the Ledwood’s Engineering site proposes to generate ‘syngas’ by thermal treatment of oil sludge, and another by-product called filter cake. The gas produced would then be burned to produce electricity to be sold to the National Grid. Oil waste will also be stored on the site. The planning application also refers to the storage and burning of office waste, stating the burning of such waste will be forthcoming from a contract with “a local provider”. It is not clear which sole provider (as specified in the planning application) has either taken an option or committed to such a contract.

Very few organisations in the locality produce the volume of waste that could support such an operation as a sole customer. The applicant is shown as a Mr Peter Beaton of Barcud Energy Ltd, whose address is listed at 110 Whitchurch Road Cardiff, the location of an accountancy practice. Mr Beaton is one of five current directors of the company, which last filed accounts showing it as dormant in June 2013.

The Herald understands that one County Councillor, Pembroke Dock Market Ward representative Brian Hall, has attempted to allay the fears of those who are against the construction of the pyrolysis plant. It is alleged that Mr Hall has personally approached some residents in Waterloo and told them that their environmental concerns are misplaced. Councillor Hall sits on the County Council’s Planning Committee. The development proposed would occupy in excess of 2,100 square metres, process 17,500 tonnes of waste and – it is claimed – create a dozen full time equivalent jobs.

A report from Natural Resources Wales has directed that a raft of assessments be carried out before planning permission can be granted. There is no sign on the County Council’s planning portal that those works have been factored into the planning application as it stands. Fears have been expressed that the height of the flue stack would direct particulate smoke pollution towards Cosheston and further up the Haven waterway. In addition, residents have expressed serious concerns about the volume of traffic to and from the site from what is an already busy road, leading to and from Pembroke Dock’s ferry port.

The Herald spoke with Friends of Earth Cymru, and a spokesperson expressed grave concerns about the health effects of pollution from the plant: “There is not enough detail provided in the application about the public health impact of the plant. Children, the elderly and those with existing complaints, such as asthma, could be badly affected.

“The area around the Haven is already a hotspot for respiratory illness and problems as a result of existing pollution. This could make it worse.” Speaking before the proposal was withdrawn from consideration, local Councillor Sue Perkins, in whose ward the proposed development would take place, told us: “I have been collating the views of my constituents and Pembroke Dock Town Council in relation to this planning application and hope to be addressing the planning committee in person as the local member. At this moment in time I am currently finalising the responses which I have received.”

Speaking as a concerned town resident, Pembroke Dock Central Ward Town Councillor, Margaret Murton told The Herald: “We neither want nor need this development. It will be detrimental to Pembroke Dock. “We have asked a series of questions and they have not been answered. These plants are usually placed near refineries. Appropriate power cabling is available very close to Valero. This plant will need new cabling. There are pre-existing issues with the condition of the ground upon which this is intended to be built, especially with methane gas emissions. “Why on earth has it been placed near a residential area?”

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‘Reach out to friends and family’ says Council Leader

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THIS week’s update from Cllr David Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council:

‘Hello everyone, I hope you are all keeping well and safe.

‘I’d like to highlight that this week is Mental Health Awareness Week.

‘I’m very aware that the last 15 months has had a huge impact on our lives and, in some cases, our wellbeing.

‘Mental Health can be a hidden issue and we all need to be aware that some people may need some extra support.

‘On a personal level the lockdown restrictions have reminded me of the importance to talk to people and to ensure people are supported.

‘Supporting your friends and family can be as simple as a phone call to say hello. A quick hello can ensure people are ok and managing and can give someone a huge uplift.

“Our communities have done a fantastic job of supporting each other so please, Team Pembrokeshire, continue these efforts.

‘I urge you all to pick up the phone and say hello to your friends and family, as we all need to play our role in everyone’s wellbeing – talking about issues does make a difference.

‘If you are suffering from Mental Health or general wellbeing issues please reach out, do not struggle on your own, your friends and family can help and make a difference.

‘Please also take the opportunity to also view the website at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week which has much more information and support.

‘I now want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in last week’s elections.

‘Elections take a phenomenal amount of organisation at the best of times but even more so in a pandemic situation.

‘To all those who ensured the smooth running of the elections process, thank you.

‘Congratulations to all the successful candidates and I look forward to working with them to further improve the lives of Pembrokeshire people.

‘We have now had further updates from Welsh Government and the next phase of the unlocking road map has been unveiled.

‘From Monday, 17th May, indoor hospitality can re-open.

‘Up to six people from six different households will be able to meet indoors in pubs, cafes and restaurants.

‘We have so many fantastic hospitality venues in Pembrokeshire who we know will be giving their customers a big welcome after so long away.

‘The opening of indoor hospitality will be a major landmark in our emergence from the pandemic and towards recovery.

‘While out and about please remember social distancing rules are still in pace, consider your actions on others, remember your footprint has an impact on our communities, so please tread lightly.

‘When you go home, leave with a smile – enjoy your days out, enjoy seeing your families and most importantly enjoy our beautiful county and please support us in keeping Pembrokeshire special – play your part and please be responsible.

‘I want to wish you all a lovely weekend and I look forward to talking to you all again next week through my update.

‘Thank you everyone.’

You can keep up to date with all the Council’s press releases here: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom

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Plan to rescue rare butterfly from extinction in Pembrokeshire

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE Coast National Park Authority is stepping up efforts to save the marsh fritillary butterfly, which was once widespread in Wales but is now close to extinction in Pembrokeshire.

Funded by the Pembrokeshire Nature Partnership, the new landscape scale strategy aims to improve the fortunes of the rare species, which relies on networks of flower rich marshy grasslands across the landscape.

Much of this habitat, which is home to the favourite food of its larva – the devil’s bit scabious (succisa pratensis), has been lost due to drainage, inappropriate tree planting and the neglect of traditional management of grasslands through light grazing with heavy animals such as cattle.

National Park AuthorityBiodiversity Officer, Sarah Mellor said: “The marsh fritillary in Pembrokeshire is now in a very precarious position. We think it has already become extinct in a number of areas in its former range and it has not been seen on the St Davids Peninsula since 2013. The population around Keeston and Tiers Cross is also now thought to be extinct.

“We must find a way to make space for wildlife in our landscape to ensure that nature can thrive for future generations. It is quite sobering to think this species could disappear from Pembrokeshire in my lifetime. We have a responsibility not to let this happen on our watch.

“Even in those areas where it remains we have seen dramatic declines, for example around Mychanchlogddu it used to be recorded from 32 sites, but since 2015 it has only been seen at seven sites.”

The National Park Authority has already stepped up its action to rescue the rare butterfly by assisting landowners to bring sites into suitable management through grant aid and providing suitable grazing animals through the Pembrokeshire Grazing Network and the Conserving the Park Scheme.

The new strategy will include mobilising Park Authority staff and volunteers to undertake targeted surveys at sites across the county, as well as helping landowners to manage their land in a sensitive way to help ensure the future of this rare butterfly.

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Santander turns away customers due to nationwide computer glitch

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CUSTOMERS of Santander in Haverfordwest were being turned away this morning by branch staff saying that they were unable to make transactions due to a computer glitch. It is understood that branches use the same computer systems which run the bank’s other systems.

Problems arouse last night when computer updates which the bank was implementing did not go to plan.

Some Herald readers contacted the news room to speak of their surprise that they were not able to access their funds.

One reader, who had gone to the bank to withdraw funds to pay rent on his home was told that there was nothing that could be done.

Website and App transactions are also being affected at the high street bank, and card transactions are being declined

The head of money at consumer magazine Which?, Gareth Shaw, said many customers will be stressed, “with people reporting that they have been unable to make online payments or in some cases purchase food in their local supermarket”.

“Customers can incur fines, penalties and fees when they’re not able to access their finances, so the bank must offer compensation to all those who have been impacted in this way”.

Santander told customers they can “access cash from other banks’ ATMs, at the Post Office and can get cashback where that’s available”.

A service status page on its website said planned maintenance was due to be performed on the Santander mobile banking app overnight on Friday. It is not known whether this prompted Saturday’s problems.

On Twitter, a Santander spokesperson said: “We’re sorry that a technical problem is affecting our services, our teams are working hard to fix it.

“You can access cash from other banks’ ATMs. Please check back here for further updates.”

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