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Welsh food and drink companies shine THE CREAM of Welsh food

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welshfoodTHE CREAM of Welsh food and drink producers returned from France last week having promoted the best of what Wales has to offer at one of the world’s largest food fairs. The Salon International de l’Agroalimentaire (SIAL) 2014, which this year was celebrating its 50th birthday, hosted over 6000 exhibitors from 105 countries and is seen as a key platform for the food and drink sector to promote their produce to buyers from all over the globe. 

17 Welsh food and drink companies attended SIAL, under the Welsh Government’s Food and Drink Wales banner, with many returning having made important new contacts, that will hopefully lead to lucrative orders. Following her visit to SIAL, Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans AM, reiterated her support for the Welsh presence at such high profile events: “If we are serious about raising the profile of the Welsh food and drink sector on a global stage it is vitally important that we provide a platform such as this for our producers.

We have made no secret of our aspirational targets for the sector in Wales, but I have no doubt that if we have a strategic, integrated approach then our target of growing the industry by 30% by 2020 can be achieved. My visit to SIAL reinforced my views of the strength of the Welsh food and drink industry and I am confident that those producers present at SIAL will benefit directly from the experience.” Cardiff based granola producer – The Good Carb Food Company, was one of the companies on the Food and Drink Wales stand and Director Nigel Bryan felt it was a worthwhile visit: “It can be difficult with such a large event to get your voice heard so it’s great that the Welsh Government lends its support to help us have a presence at such an important trade fair.

Since we launched our company 10 years ago we have become one of the leading producers of healthy granola breakfast cereals and sell our product all over the world. This kind of event allows us the chance to look at expanding our market further and gives us a direct interaction with both present and potential buyers.” Another company hoping to pick up some orders is mid Wales based cake and pudding makers Sidoli &Sons Ltd, as Gilly Barber explains: “Events such as SIAL offer us as producers the chance to show off our wares to an extensive audience but it’s also the chance to highlight new products.

Our new Gluten Free Carrot Cake was making its debut this year and I’m glad to say that it was very popular. It is now a case of following up on that interest and turning it into sales.” North Wales based South Caernarfon Creameries attracted quite a bit of interest with their cavern matured cheddar cheese, as Nick Beadman explains: “In such a large event it is always good to have a product that has a story attached to it and our cheddar cheese, matured 500 feet underground at the Llechwedd Slate Caverns, certainly got people’s attention. It’s a product that very much reflects our Welsh heritage and it’s a very positive partnership with another Welsh icon, the slate caverns. Most importantly though, it tastes great and that, fortunately, was the overwhelming feedback from SIAL.” SIAL was held in Paris on October 19-23 with 17 Welsh businesses in attendance being showcased on the Food and Drink Wales stand.

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Park Authority Committee tours successful carbon reduction projects

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MEMBERS of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) Committee made a tour of local projects recently that have benefitted from SDF funding.

Since 2000, over 200 projects have been supported by the Fund. Over the past year, the Fund has changed its focus to support community-led projects that mitigate the climate emergency by contributing to a reduction in carbon.

Coppicewood College, which promotes and supports sustainable woodland management, was one of the successful applicants visited by Committee Members. After entering into talks with the West and South Wales Wildlife Trust and securing a new home in Pengelli Forest on a 25-year lease, an application was made for SDF funding to build a workshop using sustainable building methods. Both the College and the Wildlife Trust will benefit from this new partnership, as the College now has a brand new home in a prestigious SSSI woodland and the Trust will be able to have a programme of woodland management tailored to the needs of local wildlife.

SDF Committee Members also paid a visit to Clynfyw Care Farm, where funding has been used to pay for equipment, set-up costs and training in a new vermicomposting (worm composting) project. This creates a sustainable and high quality compost, which can be used to improve soil conditions organically for local vegetable produce growers, while sequestering carbon during the process.

Bwlch-y-groes village hall also formed part of the itinerary for Members, who were shown where the SDF-funded photovoltaic panels and electric vehicle charging point, which are set to complement the new building, will be positioned.

The tour came to an end with a talk from the Cwm Arian Renewable Energy Project, which has received an SDF cash injection to help with the Pembrokeshire Energy Efficiency Programme (PEEP) – a project that aims to engage with communities across North Pembrokeshire in order to understand behaviours in energy reduction.

Jessica Morgan, Funding and Grants Officer for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust, said: “It’s been hugely rewarding to see so many innovative climate solutions coming to fruition as a result of SDF grants.

“We are now inviting applications for the next round of funding. If you are part of a community-led group or organisation based in or around the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and have a project that would help reduce carbon and/or respond to climate change, please consider applying.”

Projects can include:

·       Installing renewable energy generation facilities, such as solar panels, to a community building

·       Transport initiatives that promote reduced carbon emissions

·       The installation of community facilities that minimise waste, such as water fountains

·       Any other community-based carbon reduction initiatives.

The deadline for applications is 12 noon on Friday 10 September

Further information on how to apply and an application form can be found at www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/sustainable-development-fund/.

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Firefighters respond to industrial unit fire at Rope Walk, Hakin, Milford Haven

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EMERGENCY SERVICES are responding to a fire at an industrial unit off the Rope Walk in Hakin, Milford Haven this morning (Tuesday, July 27).

The fire broke out just after 10am. Witnesses at the scene told our reporter that they beleived the fire was linked to welding work which going on a the time on the premises.

Three fire applicances are engaged with fighting the fire.

Another person close to the scene said: “Black smoke could be seen from quite a distance, and there were popping sounds and small bangs coming from inside the warehouse as the fire took hold.”

No injuries have been reported.

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Trial bathing water testing project makes a splash

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A TRIAL project is making waves in the way the quality of bathing water is recorded and how that information is presented to those thinking of taking a dip.

Launched during the baking hot weather and at the start of the school holidays, the project run by Pembrokeshire County Council aims to develop an information platform for local people, visitors and activity groups to detail the bathing quality away from Blue Flag beaches.

As an Authority, Pembrokeshire County Council is very proud to have the most Blue Flag beaches in the whole of the UK, and this is testament to the fantastic water quality that we have.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the coast is blessed with these conditions and water quality can change on a regular basis

For the project, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Pollution Control Team will take up to six samples, across the period of the school summer holidays.

The team will then provide weekly information on bathing water results, framed against the EU Bathing Water Standards.

Pollution Control Lead Officer, Nathan Miles, said: “To achieve Blue Flag status, it is pretty well known that beaches must meet strict criteria on bathing water quality.

“But we understand that people like to swim right around our coast, not just at Blue Flag beaches, so we thought this trial could provide the bathing water quality information where there’s interest in open water swimming.

“The project is centred around water quality and water safety and linking up with local community councils and interested groups such as the Bluetits Chill Swimmers.

“We are looking for community partners or local councils to develop signage and noticeboards as well as use social media to provide information on water quality and safety in their area.”

Members of the Bluetits were on hand this week to launch the project as Council Pollution Technician Scott Findlay took a sample from Solva Harbour.

That sample will be analysed in the lab and the Bluetits informed of the water quality at the harbour.

Bluetits Chill Swimmers Director Sarah Mullis, said: “We as an organisation believe in giving swimmers the information and tools to increase their knowledge of their local waters in order for them to make choices and take responsibility for their own safety so that they can access all of the benefits that we know open water swimming brings. 

“Up until now this has been in the form of short films on rip currents, waves, tides etc. The data that has already come from this water testing scheme, and talking to Scott about what affects the readings has been fascinating, and we are learning new things about the water we swim in every day.

Pollution Technician: Scott Findlay takes a sample for testing from Solva Harbour (Pic PCC)

“We intend to share this knowledge with our community of 15,000 Bluetits, so this scheme won’t just help Solva Bluetits, but those worldwide to be aware of what may affect the quality of the waters that mean so much to us.”

Cllr Mark Carter, County Councillor for Solva added: “It is great to see this initiative between PCC and the community of Solva that gives local and visiting open water swimmers the information and confidence to make the most of the beautiful area that is Solva harbour.” 

Bruce Payne, Clerk of Solva Community Council said water is the driving force of nature and Solva’s bathing water is precious and must be protected.

He added: “The water testing scheme is very important to the community council. It helps safeguard the water quality for everyone.

“Water sports is also a vital component of village and harbour life. We care about our shared harbour environment and want everyone to be safe and to enjoy the clean seawater of Solva.”

For more information and to get involved in the trial project, contact Nathan Miles on 01437 764551.

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