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Bass to be protected



FISHERMEN using pelagic trawls will not be able to target sea bass. This follows emergency measures announced by the European Commission on January 28

Bass fishing: Restrictions announced.

Bass fishing: Restrictions announced.

to prevent fishing from the southern North Sea in the east round the south coast of England to the Irish Sea in the west.

These closures will now be in place until the end of April and follow sustained lobbying from the UK government for action across Europe to improve bass numbers and fish more sustainably.

Bass are in serious decline and there is a vital need to reduce fishing to prevent the collapse of stocks. The UK government is delighted that the European Commission has implemented emergency measures to protect bass stocks – especially during the crucial spawning season.

Member States are also committed to look at securing a wider package of measures to protect bass over the next few weeks.

Fisheries Minister George Eustice welcomed today’s news: “These measures demonstrate that real action is being taken to protect bass stocks. The UK has consistently argued that there is a need to reduce fishing pressure to protect concentrations of fish during the spawning season and prevent the collapse of stocks – the science is unequivocal. I am therefore delighted the European Commission has closed bass fisheries to avert the collapse of declining stocks. To build on this success I hope we can achieve agreement with other Member States on a wider package of measures that achieves a balanced approach, reflecting the contribution of both commercial fisheries and recreational anglers to declining bass numbers.”

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Industrial action: No trains between London, Bristol and South Wales on Sunday



THE Great Western Railway is warning travellers that there will be no trains between London Paddington and Bristol, South Wales and Exeter/Plymouth this coming Sunday 3 December because of industrial action by drivers’ union Aslef.

As a result, fewer drivers are available to work and this particularly affects longer-distance services on Sunday. Some parts of the GWR network will have no service at all, including no long-distance trains out of London Paddington.

Customers are advised to travel before the weekend or after Sunday. Where GWR can run services, a very limited service will run, they will run less frequently, and are likely to be extremely busy.

Trains will also start later and finish earlier, and customers are advised to check the time of last trains. Bus replacement services are not able to be operated.

Customers travelling from the West towards Bath for the Bath Christmas Market or the crunch Premiership Rugby match between Bath and Exeter Chiefs are warned that services will be extremely busy, and there will be significant queues to board trains home. You are advised to use alternative transport to these events and we would suggest you visit Bath on another day as both Saturday and Sunday will be extremely disrupted by this industrial action.

To help customers, tickets for strike days are valid for travel on alternative days on GWR services, as per below:

Tickets for Saturday 2 December to Friday 8 December can be used the day before or up to and including Tuesday 12 December.
Other train operators are also affected by this action, so onward travel will also be affected. A limited service on Sunday will run only on the following routes between:

  • London Paddington towards Didcot
  • Oxford and Worcestershire
  • London branch lines
  • Reading and Basingstoke
  • Reading and Newbury/Bedwyn
  • Westbury and Swindon
  • Cheltenham/Gloucester and Swindon
  • Cardiff and Portsmouth
  • Cardiff and Exeter St Davids via Weston-Super-Mare
  • Bristol and Gloucester/Cheltenham/Worcester
  • Bristol and Westbury/Weymouth
  • Plymouth and Penzance
  • Plymouth and Exeter
  • Devon and Cornwall branch lines.

Customers are advised to travel before the weekend or after Sunday. If you intend to travel where trains are running, please check before you travel as they will be busy and are likely to be disrupted.

Due to planned engineering work the Night Riviera Sleeper service is cancelled, and Guildford to Gatwick services are cancelled (buses replace trains between Reading and Guildford).

Customers are advised that South Western Railway services between London Waterloo and Exeter St Davids will be subject to major disruption and diversions. This is due to industrial action and major engineering work between Salisbury and Yeovil Junction. Services are likely to be extremely busy.

The Aslef union announced strike action that will affect GWR and CrossCountry rail services on Thursday 7 December.

In addition, the union announced action short of a strike from Friday 1 to Saturday 9 December which is likely to cause some short-notice alterations and cancellations, especially at weekends or late at night.

A rolling programme of strike action by the union affecting other rail operators is also due to take place between these dates.

On 7 December, a reduced and revised timetable will operate across several train operators, including GWR. Many parts of the GWR network will have no service at all and trains that are running will only be operating for a limited period during the day.

On the days after strikes, services could also be affected by a limited number of short-notice cancellations and alterations.

Customers who purchased tickets but do not travel can claim a full refund or amend their ticket. Those who travel and are delayed may be entitled to  Delay Repay compensation if they are delayed by 15 minutes or more.

Season-ticket holders can apply for compensation through the Delay Repay scheme. Our Refund policy remains in place. If you hold a return ticket, you can claim a refund of your unused full fare, even if only one leg of your journey is affected.

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Air Quality Bill passes amid road charging row



THE WELSH GOVERNMENT’s Air Quality legislation only awaits Royal Assent after passing its final vote in the Senedd.

The World Health Organisation has described air pollution as the world’s largest environmental health risk and noise pollution as the second largest risk in Western Europe.

The Welsh Government is the first government in the UK to bring forward legislation that requires governmental consideration of soundscapes, and the Bill places a duty on Welsh Ministers to promote awareness of air pollution and to publish a progressive national soundscapes strategy.

The Bill, introduced to the Senedd in March 2023, passed on Tuesday, November 28.
It implements measures that contribute to improvements in the quality of the air environment in Wales and reduces the impacts of air pollution on human health, biodiversity, the natural environment and the economy.

Wales experiences some of the United Kingdom’s poorest air quality, and air pollution presents the nation-state’s biggest environmental risk to public health. The health impacts of air pollution exposure within the country are estimated to contribute to 1,400 premature deaths annually.

The Welsh Government has enjoyed considerable cross-party support during the Bill’s long gestation, with Conservative members repeatedly criticising the failure to bring forward a Bill in the last Senedd term, which ended in 2021.However, despite supporting most of the Bill’s principles, the Conservatives voted against its passage on the issue of road charging.

The Welsh Government has repeatedly claimed it has “no plans to introduce road charging” in Wales.
Mark Drakeford made the position explicit in October. Even with the provisions clearly stated in the Bill – Climate Change Minister Julie James repeated that line during Tuesday’s debate.

The Welsh Government’s line is that although it now has the power to introduce road charging to improve air quality, it will do so, as far as Julie James says, “only as a last resort”.
Welsh Ministers do not “plan” to introduce it unless the “last resort” arrives.

As attempts to defuse electorally difficult issues go, several angels are dancing on a very small pinhead.
Janet Finch-Saunders, the Conservative’s Shadow Climate Change Minister, seized on the road charging issue and claimed the Welsh Government was targeting motorists.

She said: “Throughout the Environment Bill’s passage through the Welsh Parliament, the Welsh Conservatives aimed to make the Bill succeed for the people of Wales by achieving amendments that would make it work better.”

The Aberconwy MS continued: “Nevertheless, with the Labour Government’s Environment Bill introducing road charging for hard-working residents simply trying to get on with their lives, the Welsh Conservatives could not support it.”

A pointed intervention by Plaid MS Llyr Gruffydd diminished the potential for the Conservatives to gain political traction on the issue.

He asked what lessons the Welsh Government had learned from the Conservative Westminster Government’s introduction of road charging in England.

The way the Conservatives chuntered at the gibe underlined its effectiveness.

Climate Change Minister Julie James said: “I am delighted the Senedd has passed the Bill. It demonstrates a collective commitment to support preventative action about air, noise and soundscapes to achieve public health and environmental improvements.
“This Bill enables us to deliver enhanced air quality targets for Wales, with strengthened duties for Welsh Ministers to set out how we will improve our air environment. It also improves our legislative powers to manage air quality better at the local and regional levels. Finally, it sets out important new duties for Welsh Ministers to promote awareness of air pollution alongside ways of reducing its impact.

“We must empower this generation and future generations with knowledge of the impacts of air pollution and the steps they can take to minimise their exposure.

“Now is the time for action. I look forward to continued collaboration with delivery partners, stakeholders and the public to implement the Bill.”

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Sir Frank Atherton, said: “Wales already has a strong track record of leading the way in protecting the public’s health. The Bill shows the dedication and commitment across the Welsh Government to improving the air we breathe and promoting healthy soundscapes.

“We know exposure to air and noise pollution can increase the risk of serious illness, impact our wellbeing, and reduce our quality of life. That is why I am delighted this legislation has become law.

“By making our air cleaner and our sound environment better, we can improve public health for current and future generations.”

As for road charging, it all depends on how much you trust the Welsh Government.

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Body found in missing person search in Carmarthenshire



IN THE LAST few moments, Dyfed-Powys Police can confirm that a body has been found this afternoon, Wednesday, November 29, during the search for Angharad, who had been reported missing.

Formal identification has not yet taken place, however Angharad’s family has been informed of this development.

Police said: “Our thoughts remain with the family at this difficult time.”

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