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Narberth retailers continue to fight

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narberth1PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL (PCC)are under fire from a local Narberth pressure group who intend to carry on their fight to prevent a major new development. Herald readers will remember that just before Christmas, a campaign had started to prevent the Old Primary School building from being converted into a brand new retail structure that would potentially house a new Sainsbury’s store. On Monday of this week (Jan 12), a consultation meeting took place at County Hall, hosted by Narberth Councillor Wynne Evans.

In the closed meeting, and in attendance, were three representatives of the developers, Abbeymore Estates, the architect of the proposed structure, a PCC officer, as well as eight people representing the Narberth Future Forum (NFF), whose principle interest is, they claim, the prosperity of the town, in particular its independent traders, and its welfare.

Speaking with the Herald, Simon Montgomery of NFF, said: “We queried why there had been no public consultation. “We were then told about the developer having booked the Plas Hyfryd to conduct a full public consultation. It took some pushing to find out why that meeting had been cancelled; apparently a banner had appeared in town encouraging people to support their independent shops because we didn’t want chain stores in Narberth. “Wynne Evans stated that he had felt that the meeting should be cancelled because there might be aggressive opposition. Wynne Evans is a county councillor. He is not in a position to make such a judgement.”

Mr Montgomery went on to say: “Some aspects of the application, we understand, have now been altered; there is to be no day nursery or betting shop. “The meeting set up to discuss the future of the town with regard to the development proposed at the site of the Old Primary School is the biggest change to the profile of the town in a generation. If it is confirmed that this is to be the only form of public consultation that is to take place, then Narberth Future Forum and the town will now make a consideration in the matter.

“There has been no public consultation – none at all. An injunction to stop Pembrokeshire County Council from further consideration of the application could now be made by Narberth Future Forum if it decides that this is the right course of action for the town. “This is the most important development project that the town has seen for as long as people can remember. The project will radically change the profile of the town. “There is a good argument to be made that the application cannot now be considered. Utter farce, incompetence and stupidity may today have seen the end of the application to develop the site at the Old Primary School in Narberth in its current form.

“The fundamental inability, not just of the developers, but also of Pembrokeshire County Council to understand their obligations and duties is breath taking. The town, silent until now about the utter shambles that has characterised this development process, is unlikely to remain silent much longer”. He went on by suggesting a possible course of legal action to prevent the development, saying: “How long would it take a QC to argue the case that there has been no public consultation of any description with regard to the development? Quite possibly much less time than the hour allocated by Pembrokeshire County Council to offer this presentation to the eight invited people today from one organisation.”

He finished by stating: “We have moved from an utter shambles to farce today. Narberth is a proud town. It has a community sense that is unshakeable. If the developers cannot take the town seriously and begin to engage with the community, over what is a crucial issue for the future of Narberth, then they will only have themeless to blame if this project grinds to a halt before it has begun”.

In response, a spokesperson for Pembrokeshire County Council told The Herald: “The Council’s preferred bidder for the former Narberth school site is a development partnership between Abbeymore Estates and Knox and Wells Ltd, although it is the latter with whom the legal contract will be signed. “Prior to being chosen as the preferred development partnership, both developers were comprehensively assessed and shown to have strong track records in retail development. Furthermore, the development partners have been open and transparent in stating that they have a contract with Sainsbury’s as the anchor retailer for this scheme.

This is standard practice for developers”. The spokesperson went on to address the NFF, saying: “In response to Simon Montgomery’s comments, we would point out that the site has been derelict since the school became vacant. “Following Cabinet’s agreement to dispose of the property, a development brief was prepared and shared with representative organisations within Narberth. The development brief clearly outlines an opportunity for a retail-led mixed use development and the site was marketed on that basis for some time.

“In 2010-11, the consultation process for the Local Development Plan (LDP) commenced and there was significant consultation with the local community. The LDP consultation featured the need for additional retail development within Narberth, hence the site being designated for such a scheme within the LDP. “Developers are entitled to undertake whatever level of consultation they feel appropriate although there is no statutory requirement for this. The planning application was advertised in the press and a range of representations have been received, including Narberth Future Forum; Chamber of Trade; Town Council and various individuals. All such representations are taken into account as part of the statutory planning process”.

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Natural Resources Wales approves Ireland-UK interconnector licence

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GREENLINK INTERCONNECTOR LIMITED says it welcomes the decision by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to approve its application for a Marine Licence for the Greenlink electricity interconnector project, which will link the power markets of Great Britain and Ireland.

An important project for Pembrokeshire, and the UK as a whole, NRW’s go-ahead is one of several consents required for the construction of the project and covers installation of the marine cable in UK waters.

The approval is a major milestone for Greenlink and joins the onshore planning consents granted unanimously in July last year by Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Greenlink’s proposed 190km subsea and underground electricity cable will run beneath the Irish Sea to connect National Grid’s Pembroke Power Station in Wales and EirGrid’s Great Island substation in County Wexford, Ireland. It will have a nominal capacity of 500 MW.

The Wales-Ireland link is just one of four interconnectors being installed

Nigel Beresford, CEO for Greenlink Interconnector Limited, said: “We are delighted by Natural Resources Wales’s decision to grant this licence. This marks a significant milestone for Greenlink and another important step towards project construction, which we expect to commence later this year.

“The Greenlink team has worked constructively with Natural Resources Wales and Welsh marine stakeholders to find workable solutions to the many technical and environmental challenges facing a large infrastructure project like this, and this has been reflected in the quality of the final proposal.

“The thorough environmental and technical assessments we have undertaken, supported by the practical and value-adding feedback we have received from key marine stakeholders, have ensured that we move forward confident that we are delivering a well-designed project with the interests of the Welsh marine habitat at its core.”

The subsea section of the cable will be approximately 160km in length and uses high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology. The preferred route and installation methods were chosen following the conclusion of subsea surveys and consultation with key stakeholders.

In Ireland, a Foreshore Licence application was submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Foreshore Unit) in 2019 and the onshore planning application was submitted to An Bord Pleanála in December 2020.

Greenlink is one of Europe’s most important energy infrastructure projects and brings benefits on both sides of the Irish Sea for energy security, regional investment, jobs and the cost-effective integration of low carbon energy. The project will offer important local supply chain opportunities and plans are being drawn up for ‘meet-the-buyer’ events in the local area prior to construction.

Once fully consented, Greenlink is expected to have a three-year construction programme, with commissioning planned by the end of 2023.

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Appeal from Fire and Rescue Service to install working smoke alarms

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AT 01:17am this morning, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, crews from Milford Haven were called to a property fire in the Hakin area of Milford Haven.

The fire was confined to a pan on a stove in the kitchen area and extinguished by firefighters using two breathing apparatus, a hose reel jet and a thermal imaging camera.

Crews also ventilated the property and fitted smoke alarms within the property.

The Fire Service left the incident at 02:00am.

Watch Manager Alun Griffiths, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said “This fire was the result of cooking left unattended. It is so important to remove all pots and pans from a heat source when you are called away from the cooker.

“Thankfully, the occupiers of the property managed to exit the property before our firefighters arrived, but it could have ended very differently as there were no smoke alarms fitted in the property.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of installing working smoke alarms in your homes and testing them regularly. In the dreadful event of a fire, they can alert you to the danger sooner and could mean the difference between life and death.

“As a Fire and Rescue Service, we provide Home Fire Safety advice which is free of charge. We also offer Safe and Well Visits which you can arrange by phoning us on 0800 169 1234 or by visiting the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website.”

For further Home Fire Safety advice or to talk about the possibility of a Safe and Well Visit by Fire and Rescue Service personnel, please phone us on 0800 169 1234.​​​ Alternatively please complete an online Request a Safe and Well Visit​ form on the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website: https://www.mawwfire.gov.uk/eng/your-safety/in-your-home/

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Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent

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A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire overnight.

Callum Hicks, of Meyler Crescent, was woken just after 1am on Monday morning (Mar 1) to see his vehicle in flames, with fuel running down the street on fire.

The apocalyptic scenes brought neighbours out of their homes and the fire brigade was quickly called and put out the blaze.

At this time the police and fire brigade are not suspecting foul play, but in a telephone call to a Herald reporter Callum Hicks said that he thought it was impossible that the vehicle would just spontaneously combust.

Work van: Callum Hicks with his truck, which he says was his “pride and joy”

Explaining that he thought his truck had been set on fire deliberately, he said: “There was CCTV of the fire, but its a football pitch length away, with a white van parked blocking the view of the camera. There was not a clear uninterrupted view.”

“I parked the truck at 2pm on Sunday afternoon so it was 11 hours before the fire started. The vehicle was therefore cold, and locked up.”

Firefighters at the scene

The Herald has asked two mechanics, one of whom has worked on Transit vans for decades. The first said: “It is very unlikely that a vehicle like this would catch fire on it’s own – its impossible – I am 99.9% sure that this was arson.”

The second, a specialist in vehicle electronics said: “There are so many fuses and fail safes its highly unlikely for diesel vans to burst into flames like this without some kind of catalyst.”

Burned out shell: The vehicle after the fire

“There have been issues regarding Transits in the past, even a product recall involving a fire risk from a towing module. But, the chances are a million to one of it catching fire after being parked up for almost twelve hours. It just doesn’t happen.”

The Herald asked Callum Hicks if he could think of anyone who may want to torch his truck. He said that he could not think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Commenting on the police handling of the matter, he said: “They told my missus, Rhianna Pearce, that they were not taking matters further because it was just an accident – its not!”

“I have been in trouble with the police before, and they know I am a bit of a boy, but I think this is the reason that the police are not looking into this properly.

“At the end of the day this was a large fire in a residential area, lives could have been in danger. I have lost thousands because I was insured third-party only and I do not have cover for fire.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been asked for a comment.

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