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Government removes refinery reference from Yellowhammer document

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A DOCUMENT which the UK Government was forced to publish by the House of Commons was redacted to remove a reference to the potential closure of two UK oil refineries.

The document, referred to as ‘Operation Yellowhammer’, was leaked to the Sunday Times last month.

Described originally as a ‘Baseline Assessment’ of the consequences of leaving the EU without a deal, it sets out a range of scenarios that the documents authors believe are likely to occur in the short to medium term following a crash-out Brexit.

The copy published by the Government removes the reference to it being a baseline assessment.

The leaked ‘Yellowhammer’ document went into detail about the risk that leaving the EU without a deal presented to key UK sectors, including ports and refinery capacity.

Both are key issues for the Haven Waterway, which is dependent on export and import trade and is particularly sensitive to tariff changes.

However, the version of the Yellowhammer document published by the government has removed any reference to the risk to ports and refinery capacity.

The document states those on the lowest incomes will bear most of the burden of a crash-out Brexit.

The Westminster Government plans for a no-deal Brexit include a proposal for petrol imports to be tariff-free. However, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there would be a tariff on petrol exports. That would include petroleum and other refined oil products leaving the Valero refinery.

The leaked documents state that this could lead to ‘significant financial losses’ and suggests that the price of the policy would be the closure of two (unnamed) refineries.

The removal of that reference could mean several things: that the government has resolved the issue; that the government is in the process of resolving it; that the government is desperately attempting to avoid confirming an assessment that would clobber its chances of retaining seats in any of the areas affected. Preseli Pembrokeshire is, notionally, a highly marginal seat, currently held by Stephen Crabb. South Pembrokeshire is represented by junior Cabinet Office minister Simon Hart.

If Valero stopped production the impact on the local economy would be catastrophic; not only for workers on-site but also for companies concerned in the refinery’s supply chain.

The position is complicated by the recent disastrous forced shutdown at Valero following a major power cut. The loss of power damaged the refinery’s cracker plant, which will cost millions to repair.

Valero says it is committed to Pembrokeshire for the long term. However, at the time of the original leak, Valero General Manager Ed Tomp stated: “We are concerned that 0% import tariffs on petrol could create an unfair advantage for importers, resulting in a negative impact on all UK refineries.

“As such we have been working with UKPIA (the United Kingdom Petroleum Industry Association) to ensure our concerns – and the potential impact of zero tariffs – are clearly communicated to the UK Government.”

Mr Crabb has since written to the Trade Secretary, Elizabeth Truss, to ask her to rethink the tariffs to ensure there was a ‘level playing field’ for all refineries.

The Government remains silent, however, about what progress it has made towards ensuring that thousands of jobs across Pembrokeshire are not lost if the Valero refinery is made unviable by the effects of a crash-out Brexit.

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Campers from Cardiff sent packing

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PEMBROKESHIRE Road Policing Unit (Pembrokeshire RPU) have this morning, June 5, reported nine individuals for breaching coronavirus regulations.

The occupants of the three vehicles, all from the Cardiff area, had moved barriers that had been in place to close off the carpark to the public and set up camp for the night.

A Pembrokeshire RPU spokesperson said ‘Three vehicles from the Cardiff area located at Abereiddy this morning.

“The occupants of the vehicles, who’d travelled down overnight, had moved the barriers that had been used to close the car park. Having done so they then set up camp nearby.

“All nine persons present were reported for breaching coronavirus regulations. One was further dealt with by means of an out of court disposal for possession of cannabis.

“Rubbish cleaned up, car park closure reinstated, vehicles escorted out of Pembs.”

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Police urge visitors to ‘check the rules’

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POLICE in Powys are reminding people to check the rules before they travel, as tourists from the Midlands, London and Bristol continue to visit despite lockdown restrictions.

Last weekend more than 1,000 cars were turned around by police in the Brecon Beacons after visitors attempted to access the area around Ystradfellte known as ‘waterfall country’.

Many of those stopped claimed they thought the rules around travel were the same as in England, while others had deliberately flouted them.

Seventy-two per cent of people reported for breaches of Covid-19 restrictions in Powys since March 27 have been from outside the police force area.

“I would like to thank the communities of Powys for their cooperation in recent months in complying with requirements of the Covid 19 legislation and also reassure them we are still working hard with our partners to police the restrictions that remain in place across Wales,” said Superintendent Steve Davies.

“Our officers have worked hard to engage with the public at every opportunity throughout these unprecedented times by explaining what we are doing and why, and encouraging people to make the best choices to protect public health in Wales.

“But where people have clearly flouted the rules we have dealt with them appropriately and issued fines.”

He said officers will continue to conduct stop checks throughout Powys and across the force area this weekend.

In England, people can now travel an unlimited distance for exercise and to access so-called ‘beauty spots’.

But the Welsh Government has said people must remain local – ideally not travelling further than five miles from their home – for exercise or limited leisure pursuits, and this also applies to anyone travelling across the border.

Wales’ three national parks – which include popular sites such as Snowdon, the Elan valley and the Pembrokeshire coast – currently remain closed to the public, as do all National Trust car parks and properties.

The latest Welsh Government advice is available at gov.wales/coronavirus.

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Coastal car parks at beauty spots remain closed

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THE RECENT changes in regulations reinforce that movement is restricted to your local area.

This has been identified by the Welsh Government as an approximation of a five mile radius from your home.

Members of two separate households from the same local area (not travelling more than five miles) can now meet outdoors, as long as they maintain social distancing.

You should aim to meet another local household as close to your home as possible. Always take care to maintain social distancing and hand hygiene.

Pembrokeshire County Council car parks at attractions and beauty spots (including public toilets) currently remain closed so you should check before travelling.

They remain closed as a clear message that travel remains restricted, and associated tourism amenities remain closed.

A critical point for all to note is that lifeguards are not currently patrolling beaches and toilets and other facilities are not open.

Full details of the car parking facilities which remain open for the local community can be found on the Council’s website:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/emergency-planning/service-changes

Councillor Phil Baker, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure said: “The emphasis is on careful, structured unlocking, and not to put in danger any of the recovery measures that relate to public health and not to undo the safeguarding that lockdown has delivered.

“We will continue to review and monitor this carefully and take cautious, measured steps only to provide the benefits of the eased regulations without putting our residents at risk.”

Motorists are reminded not to contravene parking restrictions – such as yellow lines – where they exist as parking enforcement is still being undertaken.

As with other service areas, car parks will be reviewed in line with current advice.

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