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New weapon in fight against beach micro plastics

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The Pembrokeshire Eco Champion Project last week welcomed new and existing partners to the next exciting phase of their war on Micro Plastics.

Representatives of Nurdle visited Freshwater West Beach to deliver their innovative Trommel device which offers users an engaging and proven way of removing tiny bits of plastics from the sand on our beaches.

Nurdle met local Eco Champion Coordinator Mark Bond in Pembrokeshire.

‘Micro plastics’ are considered to be ‘any bits of plastic polluting the environment that are smaller than 5mm in length’.

These are often broken bits of larger plastic items that have been weathered or broken down by the elements.

‘Nurdles’ are very uniform, rounded pellets of plastic and are generally part of the plastic making industry or are an element of the water treatment process.

They eventually find their way into the sea and wash in and out of our beaches on the high tide.

The Eco Champion Project began a micro plastic campaign in January, delivering more than 100 simple Micro Plastic Beach Clean Kits to families around the county.

Mark said: “The beach clean kits proved a massive success and were certainly a conversation starter which brought a lot of local people onto the same page where these horrible plastics are concerned.

“Now we’ve taken the campaign to the next level – phase two – by taking on one of these Trommels.

“Phase three is already being planned, and it promises to be huge!”

The Trommels are a large, frame mounted, metal-meshed drum, which can be filled with sand and can separate the organic material from the micro plastics.

Nurdle are developing opportunities to recycle the material collected.

The plan for 2020 is to invite coastal communities around Pembrokeshire – particularly those observing a lot of micro-plastics washing up on their beaches – to apply to The Pembrokeshire Eco Champion Project to host the Trommel.

It could also compliment a beach clean that might be organised in that area, adhering to any social distancing measures in place at that time.

A number of local Plastic Free Communities groups in the area have expressed an interest and enquiries from a number of volunteer beach clean groups are expected.

The Trommel tour will also be supported by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and National Trust Rangers who will be adding the apparatus to various educational road-trips they have planned for the summer.

Cllr Cris Tomos, Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “It was fantastic to host the Trommel device in Pembrokeshire and see what it could do.

“It looks to be a very effective and significant innovative product in the fight against micro plastics on our beaches.”

Mark Bond is urging anyone with an interest in hosting a Trommel or groups/schools who wish to learn more about nurdles and micro plastic to get in touch.

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Two arrests following disturbance inside Penally Asylum Accommodation Centre

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THERE was a large police presence at Penally Asylum Accommodation Centre on Tuesday afternoon, after what police are describing as a ‘disturbance involving a small group of people.’

The emergency call went out at lunch time, and thirteen police vehicles responded to the incident, a resident of Penally confirmed.

At first the police said that one person had been arrested, but later on Tuesday evening the police released a second statement saying that two people had been taken into custody.

It is understood that both the persons arrested are asylum seekers staying at the former army training camp.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys Police told the Herald in it’s latest emailed statement: “We were called to a disturbance involving a small group of people within the Penally Asylum Accommodation Centre at around 1.45pm on Tuesday (Oct 20).

“Two people have been arrested, a 22 year old man and a 25 year old man. The 22 year old was arrested on suspicion of affray, and the 25 year old was arrested on suspicion of assault. No one was taken to hospital.

“The investigation is ongoing.”

Our reporter was at the scene just after 7pm on Tuesday and the area was quiet.

There was no visible police presence remaining outside the former army camp, and just a handful of protestors outside the main gate.

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Follow lockdown rules, public leaders in Pembrokeshire urge

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PULBIC leaders in Pembrokeshire are urging people to comply with the latest measures introduced by the Welsh Government under its ‘firebreak’ scheme.

Councillors David Simpson and Paul Harries – Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council and Chairman of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority respectively – have echoed the sentiments of First Minister Mark Drakeford’s “come together” call.

“It is imperative for the safety of all of us that we follow the regulations which come into effect on Friday” Councillor Simpson emphasised.

“Although the number of coronavirus cases in Pembrokeshire is relatively low compared with other areas across the nation, the figures here are on the rise. Undoubtedly measures would have to be taken sooner or later in our county to halt that increase.

“The thinking is that introducing a 17-day long ‘firebreak’ now and across the nation will slow the spread of the virus and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed with Covid-19 cases.

“This could potentially prevent hundreds of deaths.

“So I appeal to everyone to comply with the restrictions being introduced and follow the safety advice of wearing face coverings in confined public spaces, observe social distancing and regularly wash your hands.

Councillor Paul Harries said : “We appreciate that people will want to access the National Park and the outdoors more than ever as we head into the firebreak lockdown, but we are asking people to follow the guidance and only exercise from home, whilst following the Countryside Code.

“We understand that the restrictions are challenging for people, but keeping Pembrokeshire safe is our utmost priority and we will do all we can to support Welsh Government in following the guidance.

“When the time is right we look forward to welcoming visitors back to Pembrokeshire and most importantly doing this at a time when we can keep everyone safe. For now, we urge everyone to follow the firebreak guidance and stay home to stay safe.”

For a list of Frequently Asked Questions go to: https://gov.wales/coronavirus-circuit-break-frequently-asked-questions

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Pembrokeshire lockdown ‘disproportionate’ as cases locally were below trigger-point

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PEMBROKESHIRE was plunged into the Welsh Government’s ‘fire-break’ lockdown even though the County does not meet the criteria for a local lockdown.

The Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Cell, which advises it on responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, published the information and data relied upon to support the lockdown on Monday, October 19.

The paper highlights that Wales has crossed the threshold of circuit breakers agreed ahead of summer’s easing of restrictions. It expresses high confidence that others will be breached in the next 2-3 weeks.

It states: ‘The Welsh Government aim of protecting both lives and livelihoods requires a balancing of harms, and action is now required to maintain the balance’.

However, Pembrokeshire – along with Ceredigion and Powys – are below the threshold for restrictions’ imposition. Pembrokeshire, in particular, not only has a low incidence of cases but also consistently low positive tests.

Paul Davies MS, the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament and Senedd Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, called the lockdown “not-proportionate”

He said: “The impact on businesses in areas such as Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, who have the lowest rate of Covid-19 cases in Wales, will be severe at a time when they are desperately struggling to recover from the pandemic so far this year.”

In Pembrokeshire, there are 33 cases per 100,000 of population. In Cardiff, that figure exceeds 250 per 100,000. When the Welsh Government imposed local and hyperlocal lockdowns in other local authority areas, the basis for imposing them was a persistent and rising infection rate over 50 per hundred thousand.

In Carmarthenshire, the number of cases had begun to decline following the local lockdown in Llanelli.

In Ceredigion, the rate per 100,000 of population is even lower than in Pembrokeshire.

All Welsh local authorities are above 5% positivity, apart from Pembrokeshire (3.7%).

The rate of incidence is rising fastest in over-60s.

Pressed on why the Welsh Government imposed a national lockdown at a press conference on Monday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said controlling the virus’ spread was a national priority and that the Welsh Government had taken into account a shortage of intensive care beds in all areas of Wales.

Although the number of COVID cases in hospital is not above expectations, because of underlying critical care needs there is an insufficient number of critical care beds and/or staff to handle a large COVID outbreak, and maintain existing non-COVID intensive care treatments.

The Welsh Government is also contending with a critical shortage of Intensive Care staff as it approaches its busiest period of the year.

The Welsh Government faces an avalanche of criticism from business groups and Conservatives who claim that while a lockdown might be the only option in urban areas in South Wales and North

East Wales, there is no need for one across rural Wales, where local economies took a massive hit from the loss of tourism during the summer season.

Stephen Crabb MP said: “The scientific evidence for so-called circuit-break or firebreak lockdowns is pretty weak. When it comes to locking down Pembrokeshire and other parts of Wales where rates of infection are low, I think the Welsh Government have not made a very strong case at all.

“Local people have worked incredibly hard to follow rules and keep infections low but we are now paying the price for the fact that Welsh Government lost control of the virus in the Valleys and South East Wales.”

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