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Farmer in court after cows put down

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A DISTRICT JUDGE has given a Pembrokeshire farmer a 200-hour community service order after he pleaded guilty to multiple animal welfare offences.

The court in Llanelli heard that four cows belonging to Mark Mathias of Chapel Hill Farm, Camrose, near Haverfordwest, had to be put down to prevent further suffering.

The court also disqualified Mathias from keeping, owning, participating in, or influencing the keeping of bovine animals for a period of 12 months.

The ruling follows a prosecution by Pembrokeshire County Council on Friday (3 rd May).

Mathias was charged with four offences under Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, of causing unnecessary suffering to bovine animals, and one offence under Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, of failing to ensure the needs of bovines were met to the extent
required by good practice, including providing a suitable diet and Environment.

He also admitted an animal by-product offence whereby bovine carcasses were not stored in the correct manner or disposed of correctly, posing a health risk to the herd via contamination of Feedstuffs.

Guilty pleas were also entered for cattle identification offences for failure to record deaths as required, as well as failing to register cattle within the prescribed time scale.

The court heard that between 20 March and 12 July last year, 14 visits were made to the farm by animal health and welfare inspectors from the Council’s Public Protection Division. On a number of those visits they were accompanied by Animal Plant Health Agency vets. The first visit followed a report of a calf being on its side in the farm yard which was thought to be suffering with no bedding or care Provided.

A substantial quantity of bovine carcasses were also discovered by officers on a yard near baled feed for the herd and inside a large Trailer.

Other welfare concerns were noted within the herd at the time and advice and notices were issued to dispose of the carcasses correctly; to address listed welfare concerns and to improve conditions on the holding to which the herd had access.

The court was told that throughout the ensuing visits, additional notices and further advice was given to Mathias by officers and vets.

These related to conditions on the farm in which the cattle were being kept, welfare concerns, including for specific animals which required veterinary attention and for removal of animal by-products.

The court was told that four animals had suffered unnecessarily which resulted in them being destroyed.

It was also discovered that a large number of cattle had been moved onto the site whilst an active restriction notice was in place under the Tuberculosis (Wales) Order 2010 prohibiting moves on or off site without a licence. Mathias pleaded guilty to failing to observe the terms of the notice.

As part of mitigation for Mathias, reference was made to the mental, physical and financial issues involved in the farming business.

The Bench also ordered Mathias to pay £500 costs and a victim surcharge fee of £85.

After the case, Pat Davies, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services and Housing, said the case had presented significant challenges to both Council officers and the farmer with no quick fix solutions available.

Councillor Davies explained: “While officers were mindful of the difficulties faced by the business and sought to offer advice and guidance where they could, the serious and persistent nature of certain offences meant that that the Council was duty-bound to bring
the matter before the court.

“While the herd was almost entirely disposed of following the Council’s involvement, it is critical that where a business model becomes unsustainable that proactive action is taken to ensure that the welfare of animals and disease control measures are not Compromised.”

On behalf of the Council she also thanked the organisations and charities that worked alongside the Authority during the proceedings to help identify and facilitate effective solutions.

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Crabb backs veterans of Irish Troubles

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VETERANS of the Northern Irish Troubles have been backed by Preseli MP Stephen Crabb during votes in the House of Commons.

In the absence of a functioning administration in Northern Ireland, Members of Parliament have been voting in an effort to keep Northern Ireland running.

Stephen Crabb co-sponsored an amendment put forward by Johnny Mercer MP which passed. The Secretary of State must now report on the options available to allow veterans of the Troubles to assist in a truth recovery process, for the benefit of bereaved families, without fear of prosecution.

Commenting following the vote, Stephen Crabb MP said: “This is a positive step towards ensuring the hounding of veterans is stopped. The proud, local veteran community, along with myself, have been deeply troubled by the ongoing pursuit of current and former British Soldiers for actions carried out while under orders on active service.

“I have made the point previously to Ministers that we risk a serious breach of trust with our Armed Forces by opening the door to such prosecutions. The pressures placed on a solder in conflict situations are enormous and it cannot be right that actions carried out in these circumstances are re-opened decades later by people with no understanding of what happened on the ground.“

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Identical ‘call-out’ within three days for Fishguard RNLI lifeboat

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FISHGUARD RNLI inshore lifeboat launched on Thursday evening 18 July to the very same inflatable dinghy they rescued on Monday July 15

The inshore lifeboat and three volunteer crew launched at 8.45pm after the inflatable was reported drifting out to sea from Fishguard harbour. The flimsy inflatable and the young men onboard were taken under tow back to the area of Goodwick beach and they were again spoken to regarding the dangers of inflatable craft. On this occasion there was an off-shore wind and an ebbing tide which potentially presented much more dangerous conditions for the persons onboard.

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Rosslare ready to go it alone

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THE UK Government stands ready to revoke legislation governing the relationship between the ports of Fishguard and Rosslare.

The abolition of the current arrangements is a step closer according to Irish newspaper reports of a recent meeting between Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Fianna Fáil’s transport spokesperson Robert Troy and Wexford TD James Browne.

According to the reports, Mr Grayling told the Irish politicians that the UK has ‘no strategic or economic’ interest in keeping the ports’ governance structure.

The Irish Government, meanwhile, regards Rosslare as a major part of its Brexit plans and has acquired further land to provide additional facilities there.

The ports are governed by a UK Act of Parliament from 1888, which created the Fishguard and Rosslare Railways and Harbour Company.

The Act continued to govern the relationship between the Ports, even after most of Ireland secured its independence from the – then – British empire.

However, the old legislation has – in the view of Irish TD James Browne – hindered the Irish Government’s ability to expand activities at Rosslare to the benefit of the local and Irish economies.

Stena Line: Looking at the long term development of both ports

Fishguard and Rosslare ports are part of the one company, namely the Fishguard and Rosslare Railway and Harbours Company set up by an Act of Parliament.

Mr Browne explained to The Herald: “In effect, ownership of the port lies with UK government. But in turn the ports are effectively run as private companies: Irish Rail control and operate the Rosslare end and Stena control and operate the Fishguard side and there is an agreement in place as to the division of profits of the company.

“In Ireland, this complex and archaic ownership model has regularly been cited as an inhibiting factor in the development of the port. In short, no one will invest in a port whose ownership is unclear.”
The opportunity is not, however, all on one side, says the Wexford TD: “The decoupling of the two ports, and the transfer of Rosslare to Irish state ownership would free up both ports from this complex ownership model and allow investment in the ports.”

Mr Browne also highlighted the potential for growth in economic activity in West Wales’ closest trading neighbour: “Dublin Port is so busy that it is turning away business. Rosslare Port is in an ideal geographical location to attract shipping business and to take the pressure off of Dublin. Port. It, in turn, would act as an economic driver for the entire South East of Ireland.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb told us: Stephen: “The importance of the Fishguard – Rosslare ferry connection is unquestionable with 80% of all goods from Ireland passing through Welsh ports.
“However, the historic legal framework for the ports is outdated and does not give either side the freedom they need to develop and innovate. I can well understand why change is being sought at this time.

“I have met with the management on both sides of the Irish Sea to discuss Brexit planning and other aspects of the industry and will continue to do so.”

Ian Hampton, Chief People and Communications Officer, Stena Line said: “Stena Line hopes that by removing the historical legislation that governs the status of The Fishguard Rosslare Railways and Harbour Company it will enable Stena Line and the Irish Government to work closer together creating greater opportunity, such as the options for the long term development of both the respective ports.”

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