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Food and drink winners announced at County Show

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FOUR local businesses which champion the use of Pembrokeshire produce have been officially recognised for the outstanding quality of their food and drink in the annual Pembrokeshire Produce Mark Awards.

Hand-picked scallops, locally-produced sea salt, home-made sauces and restaurants that make best use of local produce made up the winners that were presented with awards at a ceremony in the Food Hall at the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Show, Withybush, Haverfordwest, this morning (Aug 16).

The awards were announced by the Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council, Councillor Paul Harries.

The Pembrokeshire Produce Mark scheme recognises county businesses which excel in providing or sourcing local food and drink.  Members display a unique logo which helps customers to identify that the product is local.

The scheme has more than 300 members, which are verified to ensure that the product they sell or use is made in Pembrokeshire.

There were two winners In the Best New Product category: the Pembrokeshire Sea Salt Company – with their homemade sea salt and salted caramel sauce – and Pembrokeshire Scallops.

The concept of producing salt first came to Sherrill Evans, when she was making sea salt body scrubs.

Given that she was living so close to the sea, she thought it might be worth giving salt production a go at home.

Armed with buckets, bottles and funnels, seawater collection and salt production experimentation began, returning some promising results.

The salt being produced was not only good enough to replace the shop-bought sea salt she was using for the scrubs, but the high quality taste and texture meant it was good enough to eat.

“We’ve come a long way since we were collecting seawater with buckets,” said business partner Josh Wright.

“In the year we’ve been operating, our range has been extended and now includes plain salt, five flavoured salts plus the salted caramel sauce, which has been a firm favourite with the public.”

Based just outside Newport, Pembrokeshire Sea Salt Company’s products, including salted caramel sauce, can be found in selected delicatessens, food festivals and local producers’ markets.

A desire to earn a living from the sea is what prompted local divers Neil Walters and Ceri Jones to start Pembrokeshire Scallops and the quality of their hand-dived scallops has quickly come to the attention of food lovers from all over the county.

A company with concerns for the environment at the forefront of their philosophy, they harvest the scallops by hand, leaving no damage to the sea-bed

Carefully choosing which scallops to collect and which to leave for re-breeding also allows the beds to re-populate.

“Pembrokeshire Scallops is dedicated to the scallop population,” said Neil who started the business two years ago with business partner Ceri.

They regularly have a stall at Haverfordwest Farmers Market.

“We formed because we love to dive and we love to dive in Pembrokeshire’s waters,” he added.

“Because we know the sea bed so well, we started diving specifically for scallops and other shellfish from the cold, clean waters off our coast.

“It means we’re able to choose the best scallops and shellfish for our customers.

“We focus on two things at Pembrokeshire Scallops: a desire to provide our customers with the best tasting shellfish and to ensure their homes on the sea-beds off our coast are well preserved and maintained for future generations to come.”

There were also two winners in the category for Best Use of Local Produce in a Hospitality Outlet and both came from St Davids.

They were St Davids Kitchen and the Blas Restaurant at the Twr y Felin Hotel.

Located in the heart of Britain’s smallest city, St Davids Kitchen truly is a local business.

From the five full time chefs to the pedigree Welsh black cattle they breed, everything served at the establishment comes from St Davids and the surrounding area.

“We pride ourselves on that,” said owner Neil Walsh, who along with his wife Ruth opened the restaurant less than a year ago after moving back to the area

“Our family can be traced back over 215 years to the city and we’re incredibly proud to live and work in St Davids and we base our restaurant on three key principles.

“We produce for our own restaurant, we trade fairly, openly and ethically with local producers and we provide well paid, full-time jobs with career progression.”

The produce they serve is so local they can even tell what field it came from be it the Welsh Black cattle they rear or the vegetables and pork they source from the nearby Farms for City Children.

They also have an agreement with the RSPB allowing them to source venison and ram lambs from Ramsey Island and they work with the National Trust on conservation grazing for their Welsh Black cattle on local heathlands.

Fish is procured from Solva and if what they want to use can’t be grown locally, they ensure it is bought from a local wholesaler.

“We support local farmers, producers and fishermen by buying the best from the best and delivering that to the plates of our customers,” added Neil.

As one of Pembrokeshire’s leading fine dining experiences, the Blas Restaurant at the Twr y Felin Hotel has come a long way since it opened 18 months ago. It has now cemented itself on the county’s gastronomic map with two Rosettes and a local food, drink and hospitality award.

Meaning ‘taste’ in Welsh, Blas attracts customers from all over the world who are drawn in by head chef Simon Coe’s culinary creations that are often described as ‘art on a plate.’

It offers a true taste of Wales and a menu that is influenced by the season and locality.

The use of local ingredients is central to that.

Local farms, butchers, wholesalers and fish mongers provide the bulk of their produce.

They’ll even go out and forage for it themselves.

Wild garlic leaves and blackberries picked from local lanes and bushes often find their way into Coe’s dishes.

“Our aim is to provide a warm, Welsh welcome for all of our customers and using local ingredients helps us achieve that,” says Paula Ellis, Group General Manager of Twr y Felin Hotel, Roch Castle and Penrhiw Hotel.

“Wherever possible we will use local produce. We source fish from Milford Haven and shellfish from Solva.

“The cows that produce the milk for Caerfai Cheese come from a field that’s seven minutes walk away and the vegetables and salad come from Pen Pant Farm at Nine Wells near Solva.

“We want our customers to have a taste of our language, our culture and heritage and they get that from the time they spend here and the food we create from local ingredients.”

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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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