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‘Abandoned communities’ need answers from Port, says MP

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STEPHEN CRABB MP has called for answers to ‘very serious’ questions after a flood devastated homes in the communities of Havens Head and Lower Priory two weeks ago.

At a meeting on Friday (Nov 23) outside the flood-damaged Priory Inn public house, displaced residents – some of whom are not insured – explained to their Member of Parliament that they firmly believed that the Milford Haven Port Authority was to blame for the flooding of their homes.

Mr Crabb said that questions raised about the adequacy of the pipes and culverts leading to the docks and their maintenance ‘deserve full answers’ and said that he felt that those affected felt ‘abandoned’.

The Port, however, denies that it is responsible for the incident. Tim Bownes, Engineering Director at the Port, released a statement last week saying that the flooding was not caused by any failure to act. He said it was caused by ‘two days of heavy rainfall, combined with extremely high tides combined with a tidal surge of up to half a metre.’

Mr Bownes also said that water was ‘flowing as expected’ down the Port’s culvert system on November 8

Some of the residents were clearly emotional showing their MP around their wrecked homes. The landlady of the local pub, where water levels reached the ceiling, said she could not handle going inside to see the devastation.

“Nobody from the Port gives a shit about us,” landlady Glenda German told Mr Crabb.

She added: “I’ve lost everything in this flood, and we need to get to the bottom of who is to blame.

“Someone has got to pay for this; my whole life is on stop.”

Ian Banister said that he felt that lack of maintenance was the cause of the problem, and he wanted to see records and logs to prove that the Port was telling the truth. He showed Mr Crabb several classic cars which were submerged; including a rare 1930’s Singer Le Mans sports car, and a recently rebuilt Austin A35.

Another resident pointed out that the Port was not bound by the Freedom of Information Act and information could be difficult to obtain.

Flood was deep: Stephen Crabb MP with Cllr Viv Stoddart and property owner James Kershaw (Pic Herald)

James Kershaw who lives at Pill Priory, just behind the pub, said that the culverts were either blocked, or if they were not, then they were clearly inadequate.

“Either way the Port are to blame,” he said. 1.5m of sewerage contaminated flood water has destroyed his ground floor furniture and kitchen. A lorry used for his gardening business has also been written off.

Following a tour of damaged properties Mr Crabb told The Herald: “What this group of families has been through is heart-breaking.”

He went on: “People have literally lost everything as a result of the flooding and now face many months of living in temporary accommodation waiting for their homes to dry out and repairs to be done.”

Mr Crabb addressed the accusation from many residents that Milford Haven Port Authority had contributed to the flooding by not properly maintaining the culvert which runs under Haven’s Head Business Park and into Milford Dock.

Emotional moment: Ian Bannister from Lower Priory clearly upset by the damage caused (Pic: Herald)

He told this newspaper: “The questions being raised by the residents of Lower Priory and Havens Head about the adequacy of the pipes and culverts leading to the Docks are very serious and deserve full answers.

“The speed and severity of the flooding has raised questions about whether the infrastructure has been maintained properly by the Port Authority to allow water to run out in the Dock and not build up in the way it did.”

Mr Crabb added: “These communities currently feel abandoned. It is a bewildering and stressful experience to suddenly lose your home and possessions.

“It is entirely fair for these residents to demand a full explanation as to how this happened and what can be done to prevent it in future. I’m committed to bringing together the relevant authorities to ensure that some answers can be found.”

Stephen Crabb MP visits flooded resident (Pic: Herald)

High tide mark: The level of water in James Kershaw’s home (Pic: Herald)

Business

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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