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Residents’ concern over Newgale defences

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Addressing the crowd: Cllr David Lloyd

Addressing the crowd: Cllr David Lloyd

AROUND 100 North Pembrokeshire residents packed into the Solva village hall on Wednesday night (Feb 18) to attend a public to discuss the future of the pebble bank at Newgale. The discussion, arranged by Pembrokeshire County Council, follows a number of breaches of the defences in recent years which has left residents questioning its effectiveness. Speaking at the meeting were Pembrokeshire County Council’s Head of Highways and Construction, Darren Thomas, and Assistant Engineer, Emyr Williams.

The officers gave a presentation on a projector screen which explained about climate change, and the impact on the Pembrokeshire Coast. The Authority explained that a consultation exercise was underway with the public over what to do about Newgale. The council said that they would be seeking funding for a £70,000 report on the future of coastal defences either from external sources, or from the council’s own capital expenditure budget. Mr Thomas said: “There’s a history of over-topping, in 1989 and more recently in 2014 and our management approach over the last 20 years has been to rebuild the bank.

In terms of the future we have come along today to talk about a vulnerability study we have commissioned.” County Councillor David Lloyd also addressed the crowd saying that he thought that a causeway could be constructed across the Newgale valley, and this should be built using money that the county should receive from the closure of the base at Brawdy. Cllr Lloyd later said: “My thanks to Darren Thomas and Emyr Williams of the Highways Department for staging this crucial meeting in Solva on the unsustainability of the shingle bank in Newgale and the dire potential consequences for the adjacent arterial road to Solva and St. Davids.”

Cllr Lloyd added: “In my view the creation of a causeway bridge across the valley is the only answer to the inevitable advance of the sea and the disappearance of the road, sooner than later. The cost of such a construction would, of course, be an issue. I would encourage the local population, however, to get behind a campaign to persuade government of the equity of funding such a bridge in the light of the huge public investments in transport infrastructure currently being proposed for the city regions of Swansea, Cardiff and Newport.” “Finally”, Cllr Lloyd said, “there is the matter of the military base in Brawdy, which is to close in 2018 after 65 years of underpinning the economy of the St. Davids peninsula. Pembrokeshire County Council is already considering the future potential uses of the site. Without a serviceable road access, however, there would be no future for this monolithic cold war edifice, which would slowly rot in perpetuity.

Would it not, therefore, be an appropriate legacy on the closure of Brawdy for government to fund a new, secure road access to Solva and St. Davids by way of a defence dividend to replace the considerable economic loss of the base to the community?” Mr Williams, who has been working on the Shoreline Management Plan, said that there are four options for coastline management: hold the shoreline, advance the shoreline, manage realignment of the shoreline or do nothing. The current approach at Newgale is management realignment, but Mr Williams told the packed meeting: “Eventually that will change to a no active intervention policy because there will be nothing there to manage. “We will keep putting it back, but only for a limited time.” The severe storms of January and February 2014 proved too tough a test for the pebbles, with a combination of howling winds and high tides collapsing parts of the bank. The road was left impassable for days, with motorists having to endure lengthy diversions. Last year, the Prime Minister, David Cameron has visited Pembrokeshire to survey the damage caused by the recent storms.

His visit included an unannounced stop The Duke of Edinburgh public house in Newgale. Speaking at the time the MP said: “Today the Prime Minister has paid tribute to the County Council’s workers who helped keep Pembrokeshire open during the recent storms, during which the County Council got a lot of things right. “It is a sad day that the County Council is in the news for the wrong reasons.” Jasper Slater, the owner of the pub for fourteen years told The Herald: “The Prime Minister arrived by helicopter and landed in the car park. He was greeted at the door of the pub by myself and was shown around the damage by landlord Chris Lugg and his partner.

He looked around and spoke with the workmen inside such as plasters and electricians. He was very interested to see how the bad storms had effected the community and offered his concerns.” The Prime Minister joked to Mr. Slater last year that he may be back to enjoy a pint with him once the reconstruction work was completed.

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Heatherton expansion approved

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• Committee overturns officers’ objections

• Economic benefits outweigh other impacts

Conditions must not delay development

THE COUNCIL’s Planning Committee voted to approve plans to extend holiday accommodation at Heatherton at its meeting on Tuesday (June 15).

Officers recommended refusal of the plans.

During their discussions, the Committee’s members noted the reasons for refusal detailed by the planning report. They concluded, however, with appropriate conditions in place, the economic benefits of the development outweighed the bases outlined for refusal.

Addressing the meeting, the applicant, Charlie Davies, told Committee members that the changing holiday market meant Heatherton and the area around it would miss out on opportunities to meet the demand for holidays in Pembrokeshire. He added that the planned expansion – to include a further twenty holiday lodges – would secure year-round jobs at Heatherton and have a positive impact on the local rural economy.

Mr Davies said the existing lodge development, approved by the authority seven years ago, improved the viability of Heatherton as an enterprise and would further strengthen the business’ finances.

Officers objected to the plans because they said the development would be outside settlement boundaries and run contrary to environmental policy. 

The report, presented by the Head of Planning David Popplewell, set out a series of concerns regarding the lodges’ visual impact, a lack of screening, and the lack of detail about landscaping plans and construction controls during development.

However, addressing the Committee as one of the local members whose Ward would be affected by the development, Cllr Phil Kidney said St Florence Community Council vigorously supported the application as being of direct benefit to businesses in the village. 

He pointed out that the economic benefits were not only Tenby centric but affected businesses elsewhere in the County.

Phil Kidney told the Committee his visit to a laundry in Pembroke Dock, by chance, revealed that laundry he delivered would be delayed because of laundry being done for the accommodation already on site. 

Cllr Kidney added that, bearing in mind the current furore over second homes, the provision of holiday accommodation on sites such as Heatherton could reduce the demands on local housing and open-up opportunities for local people to live locally.

He fully endorsed the proposal and said he could see no downside to permitting further expansion of a business that delivered jobs to local people, especially young people entering the jobs market for the first time.

Cllr Jonathan Preston agreed with Cllr. Kidney. 

He observed that the regulations regarding what constituted ‘a caravan’ were out of date and out of touch with reality. 

Although the proposed lodges were technically caravans; they were a world away from what most people would expect a caravan to look like and beyond the vision that informed the current rules regarding the term.

Cllr Mark Carter said the problems identified in the planning report could be addressed through the imposition of conditions on the development to offset them.

Mark Carter pointed out issues regarding the detail of landscaping works and lighting could be subject to conditions drafted by officers.

His opinion was warmly welcomed by both Cllrs David Pugh and Vice-Chair Tony Wilcox.

David Pugh said Heatherton was a successful business, employing local people and should be encouraged to continue to offer job opportunities for locals.

Tony Wilcox said Heatherton was one of the three main jewels in Pembrokeshire’s tourist crown. 

He noted the other two destinations – Folly Farm and Bluestone – both recently applied to extend their facilities, and he could see little or no difference between what Heatherton proposed and what officers were prepared to accept elsewhere.

Cllr Tim Evans developed Cllr Wilcox’s theme, observing that officers barely raised an eyebrow about a further eighty pieces of holiday accommodation at Bluestone, which he said had ‘whizzed through’. 

Subject to conditions being brought back to the Committee, he fully supported the application.

Cllr Jacob Williams, Chair of Planning, asked whether the proposed conditions would be back before the Committee for its next meeting in July. 

Having received an equivocal answer he moved that if the Committee approved the scheme, with the proposed planning conditions to offset officers’ objections must come before the Committee on July 27.

Cllr Pugh endorsed that approach by saying nobody wanted the proposal kicked into the long grass.

Councillors approved the plans unanimously by 14 votes to nil, and officers must prepare conditions to attach to the planning permission ahead of the Committee’s next meeting.

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Milford Haven: Christmas cosmetics thief caged

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A MIDLANDS shop lifter caught stealing £2200 worth of cosmetics and skin care products from Boots in Milford Haven just before Christmas, has been jailed.

Magistrates sitting at Haverfordwest Court on Tuesday (Jun 15) accepted a guilty plea from 53-year-old Ion-Gabriel Maimut of Perrott Street, Birmingham.

He was jailed for what the bench described as “offending so serious because the defendant has a flagrant disregard for people and their property.

“And because of the high degree of planning and the high value of the theft.

“And because the theft was aggravated by the defendant’s record of previous offending.”

Maiumut, bang-to-rights, pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to a single theft of goods from Boots to the value of £2204.91 on December 4, 2020.

The court confirmed that the defendant’s guilty plea was considered when imposing sentence.

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Blue Gem Wind begins digital aerial surveys for 300MW Valorous floating wind project

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BLUE GEM WIND, the joint venture between TotalEnergies, one of the world’s largest energy companies, and Simply Blue Energy, has begun offshore digital aerial surveys for a proposed 300MW floating wind project.

APEM Ltd have been chosen by Blue Gem Wind to deliver 24 consecutive monthly bird and marine mammal surveys of the early-commercial scale Valorous site. The high resolution data obtained will support baseline environmental characterisation of the site and environmental impact assessments for key ecological receptors.

The survey programme commenced in March 2021 and four of the 24 monthly surveys have been completed
to date.

Sean Evans, Environmental Specialist at Blue Gem Wind said, “It is important for us to begin long-lead in items
such as bird and marine mammal surveys as early as possible. These surveys will provide crucial species specific
data on the number, spatial distribution and activity of individuals across the Valorous site. This enables us to
undertake robust environmental impact assessments ahead of our planned consent application submission in
2023.”

Matt Rohner, Senior Consultant at APEM, “APEM Ltd are delighted to be able to support Blue Gem Wind’s
proposed Valorous offshore wind farm with our best-in-class survey design approach. Imagery captured using
state-of-the-art cameras is of ultra-high (1.6cm) resolution, providing industry leading image quality that is
essential for species level identification.”

The Celtic Sea is poised to play a key role in Net Zero, the Committee on Climate Change’s 100GW offshore
wind target, and crucially, the UK Government’s target of 1 GW of floating wind by 2030. The ORE Catapult also
estimated that the first GW of floating wind in the Celtic Sea could potentially deliver over 3,000 jobs and
£682m in supply chain opportunities for Wales and Cornwall by 2030.

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