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Badger goes green

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badger_2087377bThere has been a lot of fuss in the national media recently about ‘fracking’; the extraction of gas from shale deposits by forcing water into the rock bed like an underground enema.

A naturally solitary and subterranean type, Badger is not sure he approves of fracking. Badger sees that attempts to cash in on the purported bonanza in America and other European countries have not produced as expected, either in terms of private profit or public benefit.

Badger is certainly unconvinced by the special pleading that suggests trapped gas is a boundless supply of energy that might save us all from freezing in our setts.

If that was the case, County Hall would be festooned with drilling equipment and the excess produced would be enough to provide each Pembrokeshire home with its own Zeppelin.

The evening news is populated by pictures of colourfully be-jumpered people who have woven their copies of The Guardian into yurts. Those camped out on vigil seem determined to prevent preliminary drilling being carried out for fear it might lead environmental Armageddon to be visited upon this apparently very green, very pleasant and very, very prosperous corner of England.

Periodically the protestors stop weaving muesli or playing their guitars to try to prevent something which is not happening. When they do so, they run into the Police, who are – with varying degrees of force – seeking to prevent damage to private property or, as the Police put it, ‘maintain public order’.

When the fracking protestors attempt to enter private property to carry out ‘direct action’, they appear to suggest the law of the land should allow them free entry. When they are prevented from entering and potentially damaging private property by the Police, the protestors claim to be unlawfully restrained.

If the protestors’ actions are legal, then the Police have no business stopping them from carrying out their proposed ‘direct action’. If the protestors’ actions are illegal, they appear to be claiming the protection of a system of laws parts of which they feel able to ignore when they feel like it.

Badger is confused. He suspects he is not alone in his confusion.

The idea of populating tracts of open countryside with drilling equipment and industrial plant is widely regarded as outrageous. On the basis that keeping something beautiful, well, beautiful is a good, Badger agrees.

But what are the viable alternatives?

Attempts to harness the tidal power of the Severn seem doomed to founder on concerns about its effect on wildlife. Wind turbines are widely alleged to be inefficient subsidy magnets that disfigure the landscape. Solar energy’s ability to deliver meaningful amounts of energy to the UK’s population is unclear. Biofuel crop growth restricts food output in countries that can ill afford to have less land available for growing food crops.

Years ago, Badger remembers a scheme to burn orimulsion at the old Pembroke Power Station. The CEGB (remember them?) said they would close the plant as unviable if permission was not granted. Cllr Brian Hall led a stormy public meeting at the Pater Hall, Pembroke Dock, at which few, if any, voices against the proposed development were allowed to be heard.

There was a furious campaign against orimulsion – dubbed ‘the world’s filthiest fuel’ – led by Friends of the Earth Cymru. Part of that campaign suggested the CEGB was bluffing when it said it would close Pembroke Power Station.

The campaign against the CEGB scheme was aided by fears raised by the Sea Empress disaster in the Haven around the time of the application and controversy.

Sure enough, the plans were called in by the Welsh Office.

The CEGB immediately gave up the application and closed Pembroke Power Station causing significant loss to the local economy.

And shortly afterward it was reported that one of the leading campaigners against the development had objected to siting a wind turbine next to a field containing his cattle.

Whichever option is canvassed has its detractors and opponents and consensus seems unlikely. Sometimes you just have to settle for whichever is the least bad option.

It’s a pity hot air cannot be harnessed as a viable energy source. It seems to Badger that, in the environmental debate, there is plenty to spare on all sides.

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Two banned from county after ‘disturbance’ at Penally Asylum Centre

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TWO asylum seekers have been banned from entering Pembrokeshire while investigations take place into a disturbance at a military training camp where asylum seekers are being housed.

Dyfed-Powys Police said it was called to the Penally Asylum Accommodation centre at 13:45 HRS on Tuesday (Oct 20)

A 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of affray, and a 25-year-old man was held on suspicion of assault.

Both have been bailed on condition they avoid the area, the force said.

Home Office spokesman told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “The government takes the wellbeing of asylum seekers and the communities in which they live extremely seriously.

“We are aware of an incident at the Penally site but it would be inappropriate to comment further while investigations are ongoing.”

There was an ongoing police presence at the camp again on Wednesday night (Oct 20) – with a police van with blue lights flashing seen driving into the facility.

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Two arrests following disturbance inside Penally Asylum Accommodation Centre

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THERE was a large police presence at Penally Asylum Accommodation Centre on Tuesday afternoon, after what police are describing as a ‘disturbance involving a small group of people.’

The emergency call went out at lunch time, and thirteen police vehicles responded to the incident, a resident of Penally confirmed.

At first the police said that one person had been arrested, but later on Tuesday evening the police released a second statement saying that two people had been taken into custody.

It is understood that both the persons arrested are asylum seekers staying at the former army training camp.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys Police told the Herald in it’s latest emailed statement: “We were called to a disturbance involving a small group of people within the Penally Asylum Accommodation Centre at around 1.45pm on Tuesday (Oct 20).

“Two people have been arrested, a 22 year old man and a 25 year old man. The 22 year old was arrested on suspicion of affray, and the 25 year old was arrested on suspicion of assault. No one was taken to hospital.

“The investigation is ongoing.”

Our reporter was at the scene just after 7pm on Tuesday and the area was quiet.

There was no visible police presence remaining outside the former army camp, and just a handful of protestors outside the main gate.

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Follow lockdown rules, public leaders in Pembrokeshire urge

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PULBIC leaders in Pembrokeshire are urging people to comply with the latest measures introduced by the Welsh Government under its ‘firebreak’ scheme.

Councillors David Simpson and Paul Harries – Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council and Chairman of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority respectively – have echoed the sentiments of First Minister Mark Drakeford’s “come together” call.

“It is imperative for the safety of all of us that we follow the regulations which come into effect on Friday” Councillor Simpson emphasised.

“Although the number of coronavirus cases in Pembrokeshire is relatively low compared with other areas across the nation, the figures here are on the rise. Undoubtedly measures would have to be taken sooner or later in our county to halt that increase.

“The thinking is that introducing a 17-day long ‘firebreak’ now and across the nation will slow the spread of the virus and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed with Covid-19 cases.

“This could potentially prevent hundreds of deaths.

“So I appeal to everyone to comply with the restrictions being introduced and follow the safety advice of wearing face coverings in confined public spaces, observe social distancing and regularly wash your hands.

Councillor Paul Harries said : “We appreciate that people will want to access the National Park and the outdoors more than ever as we head into the firebreak lockdown, but we are asking people to follow the guidance and only exercise from home, whilst following the Countryside Code.

“We understand that the restrictions are challenging for people, but keeping Pembrokeshire safe is our utmost priority and we will do all we can to support Welsh Government in following the guidance.

“When the time is right we look forward to welcoming visitors back to Pembrokeshire and most importantly doing this at a time when we can keep everyone safe. For now, we urge everyone to follow the firebreak guidance and stay home to stay safe.”

For a list of Frequently Asked Questions go to: https://gov.wales/coronavirus-circuit-break-frequently-asked-questions

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