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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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Climate change protesters pack the streets of Haverfordwest

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Hundreds of protestors flooded the streets of Haverfordwest today to join in one of the biggest global climate strikes to date.

The event took place at County Hall from 11am on Friday, September 20, where hundreds flocked in unison to show their support for the many global activists around the world in protest of the way we live on our planet.

Leading the charge for the world-wide events were multiple organisations including Extinction Rebellion and UK Student Climate Network, as well as 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, a Swedish activist for the planet’s well-being. Children all across the globe have been puled out of their schools to join the protests for change on how we consume our planet’s resources and these acts have been met with mixed responses.

Some are happy that others are taking a stand for the greater good of our planet, whilst others seem to be disgruntled by all the commotion the protests have caused in their areas.

At County Hall in Haverfordwest, singing and chanting could be heard as the school children, toddlers, pensioners, families and college students all joined the call for imminent action to tackle the climate emergency.

The climate protest was also attended by Cllr David Simpson and director of development Dr Steven Jones, who assured the public that the authority was working towards its zero carbon goal.

In a statement on Facebook, Extinction Rebellion said: “Hundreds turned out to support today’s Global Climate Strike in Haverfordwest alongside hundreds of thousands around the world! A clear message was delivered and responded to by the leader of Pembrokeshire County Council who has invited you to be represented in their work in months to come to meaningfully address the climate emergency in our beautiful county and beyond. The tide is rising, and so are we!”

The protests ended as the groups made their way to Castle Square, where final chants and songs echoed around Haverfordwest.

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Refinery protest over: Two activists arrested at scene, others reported for summons

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THE PROTEST organised by Extinction Rebellion at Valero Refinery came to an end last night (Sept 19).

Specialist officers were deployed to the scene and as a result of that, two protestors were arrested for unlawful obstruction of the highway and transferred to Haverfordwest custody.

Others who took part, police said, decided to end their protest and have been reported for summons and the items used by them have been seized by the police.

Police said: “All protestors have now left the area and police are maintaining high visibility patrols.”

Superintendent Robyn Mason said: “Officers spoke to the protesters and partner agencies throughout the day to ensure a balance was maintained between allowing people the right to peaceful protest and the requirement to ensure the safety of, and minimise the disruption to, business and the community. We will continue to monitor the situation.”

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Pembroke Dock: Man hospitalised after ‘jumping through pizza shop window’

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A PEMBROKE DOCK man has been taken to hospital after becoming injured by glass in Pembroke Dock.

According to a passing motorist a male was seen shouting and screaming in the street – he was being restrained by others.

He then jumped into the glass window of the PizzaTime take away in Meyrick Street, cutting his stomach on the glass.

Multiple police vehicles and an ambulance attended the incident which took place at around 15.30 HRS.

The road was temporarily blocked.

Once police car remains on scene (16:49 HRS)

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