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Shell fisheries closed after train crash can reopen

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COCKLE and shell fisheries that were closed as a precaution following the Milford Haven oil train derailment in Carmarthenshire on 26 August can reopen.

The Burry Inlet Cockle Fishery and other shell fisheries in the area were closed as a precaution following advice from the Food Standards Agency.

Extensive sampling and monitoring has been taking place and initial rounds of analysis of cockles and mussels in the area for residual oil contamination indicated they were within statutory limits, which are set to protect the health of consumers and the quality of the product.

As a precaution, a further round of samples was analysed. Those results have also come back within statutory limits.

A programme of surveillance and monitoring of shellfish will continue over the winter period to ensure the ongoing safety and quality of shellfish harvested from the area.

Local shellfish producers have been informed that the beds have been reopened with immediate effect and that harvesting can resume.

A spokesperson from the Food Standards Agency said: “Laboratory Analysis by Centre for ecology fisheries and aquaculture science (Cefas) of the first two rounds of shellfish samples reported no evidence of diesel contamination of shellfish.

“The beds remained closed on a precautionary basis while we awaited the results of a third round of sampling and analysis.

“The additional results provide further evidence that testing results remain within the statutory limits, and as a result the beds have reopened.

“A programme of surveillance and monitoring over the winter period will continue, to ensure the ongoing safety and quality of the shellfish. The monitoring results will be kept under regular review.”

The clean-up operation of the incident site is now in recovery phase and is being led by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

Multi-agency strategic and tactical groups have been established to coordinate the effort. They include representatives from NRW, Carmarthenshire County Council, City and County of Swansea,

Network Rail, British Transport Police, Food Standards Agency, Welsh Government and Public Health Wales.

They’re working together to reduce any potential for impact of the incident on the local community, the environment and the economy.

Specialist contractors Adler and Allan and Jacobs remain at the incident site and are continuing with work to mitigate potential impact of the diesel spill.

Extensive monitoring, surveillance and modelling over the intervening period has shown that over 70 per cent of the diesel spilled has either evaporated or biodegraded, and the remainder has dispersed naturally in the wider environment.

Martyn Evans, Head of South West Operations for NRW and Chair of the Recovery Coordination Group, said: “The reopening of the shell fisheries is a significant step forward in the road to recovery, and an indication that the multi-agency and specialist work to mitigate the impact is working.

“The measures have been significantly tested by heavy rains and Storm Alex, with no further seeping of diesel. But we will not be complacent in the management of this site.

“We are finalising long term plans for the treatment and monitoring of the site.”

A Stakeholder Recovery Group has been set up to keep people up to date with information and offer support to those affected overcome the impact of this incident. The group will also ensure people have the opportunity to voice any concerns.

It includes representatives from local businesses, commerce, tourism, fisheries and agriculture.

Sue Watts, Environmental Protection Manager, Carmarthenshire County Council and Chair of the Tactical Recovery Group, said: “Recovery from this is a complex task that requires expert advice, specialist support and continued monitoring.

“Unfortunately, there are people suffering the aftermath of this diesel pollution incident, and could be for months to come, particularly our local cockle gatherers and shellfish
processors.”

The investigation into the cause of the freight train derailment is on-going.

Leader of Carmarthenshire Labour, Councillor Rob James, welcomed the Minister for Environment’s comments stating “I am pleased to hear that recent samples of shellfish were found to be safe for human consumption and that a stakeholder group has been established to assess the impact on our local cockle picking industry.

“We are also reassured by the Minister’s commitment that extensive monitoring and surveillance will continue to protect our cockle industry and consumers moving forward.

“The local cockle industry is extremely important to our local area and it is clear that the Welsh Labour Government is doing everything possible to protect it.”

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Vulnerable man targeted by rogue trader

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A ROGUE trader has been ordered to pay almost £2,000 by a court after carrying out shocking DIY work for a vulnerable Jameston man.

Pembrokeshire Trading Standards prosecuted 20-year-old Douggie James Whitbread who traded as Wales and West Property Solution.

Haverfordwest Magistrates were told on Friday (Oct 23) that a joint investigation with Dyfed-Powys Police discovered that Whitbread of 8 Coldwell Terrace, Pembroke, first approached the 66-year-old victim in the summer of 2019.

After agreeing to cut the man’s grass, Whitbread made regular accompanied visits looking for other jobs and pressurising the pensioner to have them done.

The victim did not know him as Douggie Whitbread as the defendant gave a false name.

Whitbread offered to fit new floor lino in the toilet and small adjoining passageway of the victim’s home, saying he would do a good job. Instead, the court heard, he and a fellow worker spent less than an hour and charged £300.

The standard of the work was shocking and showed Whitbread’s inept ability. Jagged edges and numerous gaps were left where it had not been fitted correctly, exposing the existing floor underneath.

Despite there being enough lino on the two metre by two metre roll, Whitbread told the victim he needed more to finish the job.

A few weeks later the victim was approached by Whitbread at a bus stop near his home. He said he would return the next day to finish the work and that he wanted another £300.

The victim informed a neighbour and Pembrokeshire County Council’s Trading Standards team and when Whitbread returned he was arrested by police.

Whitbread was also questioned about another incident involving hedge-cutting for an elderly lady and admitted taking away the waste as advertised on his business flyer. However, he did not hold a Waste Carrier Licence at the time.

Whitbread admitted four offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. These were: carrying out work not fit for purpose; trading without professional diligence; omitting to give required information for doorstep contracts and advertising and conducting waste removal services when not licensed.

A £200 fine was imposed for each offence together with £1,000 costs plus a £110 victim surcharge. A compensation order for £300 was also awarded to the victim and a restraining order imposed prohibiting Whitbread from approaching the pensioner indefinitely.

“I am appalled by the standard of work and how this vulnerable gentleman has been hounded and taken advantage of” said Sandra McSparron, Lead Trading Standards Officer. She added that the incidents had left the victim anxious and unwell.

The County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Cris Tomos, said: “This court case sends a clear warning to rogue traders that targeting the elderly and vulnerable for financial gain will not be tolerated. We will pursue and prosecute all those who commit such despicable crimes.”

Councillor Tomos also said the case showed the great community spirit of Jameston residents looking out for one another and was a fine example of successful partnership work between the police and Trading Standards.

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Drug driver arrested in Milford Haven after driving through stop sign and into roadworks

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A DRUG driver who drove through a stretch of roadworks on the wrong side of the road, before hitting a parked car and trying to hide from police has appeared in court.

Christopher John Brown led Dyfed-Powys Police officers on a pursuit through Milford Haven on Friday afternoon (October 23), putting pedestrians and other road users at risk.

Pembrokeshire Roads Policing Unit have thanked people for their help in tracing the 31-year-old, of Meyler Crescent, after the manner of his driving became so dangerous they could no longer follow him.

A Roads Policing Officer had attempted to stop Brown at around 1pm when he was seen driving out of The Mount estate at speed.

However, he failed to stop when requested and sped away in his BMW.

As police followed, Brown drove on the wrong side of the road, overtook a number of cars waiting at roadworks, and drove through a stop sign, forcing an off duty officer to take evasive action as the defendant drove towards him.

Police deemed the danger level too high to continue the pursuit when Brown drove through a coned area of roadworks where there were a number of people working.

At this point, members of the public pointed out to officers which direction he had driven in.

Brown went on to collide with a parked car, before getting out of his vehicle and attempting to hide behind another. He was found by a PC, who arrested him on suspicion of dangerous driving and administered a drug wipe.

A Pembrokeshire RPU spokesman said: “This was a highly dangerous incident, during which Brown put a number of people’s lives at risk.

“Driving through a stop sign and into a coned area of roadworks was simply beyond comprehension, and could have had a tragic outcome.

“As we decided to end the pursuit, we were assisted by a number of people, and the team would like to thank members of the public in Milford Haven for their help in tracing Brown.

“Your support is greatly appreciated.”

Brown was charged with dangerous driving, driving with no insurance, driving while disqualified, failing to stop when requested by police, and possession of cannabis.

His vehicle, which had no insurance, tax or mot, was also seized.

He was remanded to appear in front of the next available court, and admitted all five offences at Swansea Magistrates’ Court on Saturday, October 24. He also pleaded guilty to an additional charge of driving whilst unfit through drugs, which was laid on at court.

He will be sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on November 16.

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Five arrested in connection with large cannabis grow in Whitland

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FIVE people have been arrested in connection with the discovery of a large amount of cannabis in Carmarthenshire.

Dyfed-Powys Police carried out a warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act at an address in Whitland, on the morning of Friday, October 23.

Officers found a significant number of mature cannabis plants, with a sophisticated hydroponics set-up, numerous bags of cannabis bud, and cannabis resin.

Police seized electronic devices, several thousands of pounds in cash and silver bars, as well as vehicles under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Five people – a 58-year-old woman and four men aged 28, 30, 60 and 61 – were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the production of cannabis, and possession with intent to supply.

They have been bailed with conditions pending further enquiries.

Detective Inspector Rhys Jones said: “This is an example of excellent collaborative work between a number of different departments in the force, which has taken a significant amount of drugs off the streets.

“As our investigation into this cannabis cultivation continues, we ask anyone with information that could help enquiries to please get in touch.

“We urge anyone with information about suspicious or unusual activity in rural areas report it to us, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously.”

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