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Park plans for starry, starry nights

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IN 2012starysky/13, the Brecon Beacons achieved International Dark Sky Reserve status for the whole National Park. On a clear night in the Brecon Beacons, you can see the Milky Way, major constellations, bright nebulas and even meteor showers. It’s enough to make anyone starry eyed.

Now Pembrokeshire’s own National Park Authority has decided to try to create a number of Dark Sky Discovery Sites across the county.

The UK has some of the largest areas of dark sky in Europe. You can find dark skies near where you live, if you can get away from bright lights such as street lighting. That could be in your back garden, a local park, or getting out of town altogether. From a city centre location we might see about 100 stars with our naked eyes, and the further away from the streetlights you go, the better the view becomes. Under a really dark sky we can see over 1,000 stars. We can even see our own galaxy, The Milky Way, stretching across the sky.

Pembrokeshire Cost National Park does not particularly lend itself to being a Dark Sky Reserve or Dark Sky Park because it is relatively small, ribbon-like, and is affected by significant light sources on the Milford Haven. These factors would make Dark Sky Reserve and Dark Sky Park requirements very difficult to meet, and the associated improvement commitments onerous to maintain.

Instead, officers have sought to identify a series of potential Dark Sky Discovery Sites across the National Park. Dark Sky Discovery Sites are small, accessible observation sites with good night sky quality. Proposals for Dark Sky Discovery sites are submitted to and decided by the UK Dark Sky Discovery partnership, which is made up of national and local astronomy and environmental organisations.

There is currently only one Dark Sky Discovery site in the National Park: the National Trust’s car park at Broad Haven South. A spread of Dark Sky Discovery Sites across the National Park could help raise the profile of the Park, not only for stargazers and photographers but as part of more general “Park-at-night” type experiences (wildlife observation, John Muir/Duke of Edinburgh tasks, navigation, bushcraft and so on), potentially out of the main visit or season.

In order to qualify for Dark Sky Discovery (DSD) Site status, the proposed locations need to meet a number of criteria that make them safe and accessible as well as having suitably dark skies, in order to fully suppor t the above aims.

Dark Sky Discovery Sites are places that:

are away from the worst of any local light pollution

provide good sightlines of the sky

have good public access, including firm ground for wheelchairs.

The sites are generally freely accessible at all times The website sets out two clear categories of Dark Sky Discovery sites. The two darkness ratings are:

‘Orion’ sites. At these sites, the seven main stars in the winter constellation Orion are visible to the naked eye. Typically, this means away from, or shielded from, bright lights such as street lights, security lights or approaching car lights.

“Milky Way” sites. At these sites the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye. They are much darker sites found only in more rural areas.

The ten selected sites are: Poppit Sands Beach; Bedd Morris National Park car park; Bwlch Gwynt; Garn Fawr National Trust car park; Rhosfach Common; Abereiddi Bay car park; Martin’s Haven National Trust car park; Kete National Trust car park; Stack Rocks National Park car park; and Skrinkle Haven National Park car park.

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Pembrokeshire crowned the dog beach capital of the UK

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IF YOU’VE ever wondered where the best beaches for your furry friends are, then look no further than our very own Pembrokeshire! New research has shown that our county is leading the UK when it comes to dog-friendly shorelines.

As the sun fades on another summer, the trend for ‘staycations’ shows no signs of slowing. Recent data indicates a 20% rise in searches for ‘winter breaks’ across Britain, and an impressive 75% of the populace planning a UK overnight trip within the coming year. But it’s not just humans who benefit from these local retreats – our canine companions are joining in on the fun too.

A detailed study conducted by Dream Cottages, a holiday cottage provider, has dug up data about where you should whisk your whiskered friend for a relaxing break. By measuring the number of dog-friendly beaches, expansive open spaces, convenient vets, and accessible pet stores, they’ve charted the best spots in the UK for a delightful doggy vacation.

And the result? Pembrokeshire proudly tops the list for the highest number of dog-friendly beaches! With a staggering count of 81 dog-friendly beaches, Pembrokeshire has edged out Devon, which sits comfortably in second place with 76 beaches.

Yorkshire, despite coming in 10th place for beaches, took the overall crown as the best place for a dog-friendly holiday considering its abundant open spaces. However, when it’s sandy shores you’re after, Pembrokeshire stands unmatched.

Pembrokeshire’s love for its canine visitors isn’t just about beaches. The entire community has embraced the ethos of making every visitor, on two legs or four, feel entirely at home.

Aislinn Peters, a spokesperson for Dream Cottages, emphasised the growing trend of inclusive holidays. “We understand people’s desire to bring their pets on holiday. Exploring new terrains, especially in areas as beautiful as Pembrokeshire, becomes even more special with your loyal companion by your side,” she stated.

It’s clear that more Brits are opting for home soil adventures, recognising the unmatched beauty and hospitality the UK has to offer. And for those with a wagging tail by their side, Pembrokeshire remains the beach paradise of choice.

With winter around the corner and an evident love for staycations, Pembrokeshire’s pristine beaches are poised to witness both human and canine footprints, come rain or shine!

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RAF St Davids airfield honours the past with 80th anniversary celebration

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IT WAS a scene reminiscent of yesteryears at the RAF St Davids Airfield this past Friday, 15th September. The echoes of wartime reverberated around the venue as a fitting tribute was unveiled on the 80th anniversary of the airfield’s establishment.

The poignant ceremony culminated with a nostalgic flypast by an Avro Anson, a wartime-era aircraft, honouring the memory of those who tragically lost their lives serving at the airfield. In addition, the event was an ode to all military and civilian personnel who rendered their services during both war and peaceful times.

Masterminded by Malcolm Gray – the artisan behind the three slate plaques that now form the memorial – along with stalwarts Ian Panton and John James, the ceremony drew inspiration from an initiative set forth by the late Alun James of Carnhedryn, a fervent local historian.

The memorial, ingeniously crafted using a section of a wall from a wartime edifice, was gracefully unveiled by Councillor Emma Evans, the Mayor of St Davids, with Councillor Bira Sehmi, the Deputy Mayor, by her side.

Adding to the occasion’s gravitas was the Chief guest, Air Commodore Adrian Williams, the RAF’s Air Officer Wales, who honoured the memory of the fallen by laying a wreath at the memorial. The ceremony was further sanctified by the Rev William Owen of Caerfachell. Morgan Price’s rendition of The Last Post and Reveille, along with the standards paraded by the Royal British Legion’s Solva and St Davids branches and the Air Cadets of the 948 (Haverfordwest and City of St David’s) Squadron, added to the solemnity of the occasion.

John Evans of the Pembrokeshire Aviation Group took attendees on a journey through the airfield’s illustrious 50-year active history, starting in 1943. The commemoration saw many with a familial bond to RAF St Davids, including Mr Bryan John of Solva, whose affiliation with the RAF led him to work with the Airwork company based in St Davids and later at Brawdy.

From Cawdor Barracks, Captain Shane Murphy and Warrant Officer (RAF) Greg Moodie were also in attendance.

Following the formal proceedings, guests reconvened at the St Davids RAFA Club, where they were greeted by Chairman Malcolm Clift, indulging in some well-deserved refreshments. Notably, the RAF Ensign proudly flew over Cross Square, St Davids that day.

The day’s ceremonies saw the twin-engined Anson, piloted by owner Glenn James from Shropshire, using the Haverfordwest Airport as its base. A later rendezvous took place between Air Commodore Williams and the Anson crew at Withybush.

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Fire-ravaged Haverfordwest Dunlop Motors gets demolition go-ahead

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PEMBROKESHIRE planners have approved the demolition of fire-ravaged garage buildings in Haverfordwest’s conservation area, which saw crews from as far afield as Ammanford tackling the blaze.

The fire broke out around 7.18am on Saturday, April 22 on Dew Street, Haverfordwest. It took place at a single-storey commercial car engineering garage.

Crews from Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Narberth, Fishguard, Tenby, Carmarthen and Ammanford were called to the scene, and Dyfed-Powys Police were in attendance.

Chris Dungey has sought permission for the demolition of fire-damaged Dunlop Motors commercial garage buildings in the town’s Dew Street, including an associated site clearance and decontamination, along with a subsequent restoration and remediation of the site.

Agent Pembroke Design Limited in its supporting statement said the damage was extensive; the intense heat of the fire broke down the buildings’ asbestos cladding, most of which has fallen to the ground.

“It is also likely that the fire has compromised the structural frames of the building, although this cannot be fully assessed at this time, due to access restrictions prior to decontamination of the site,” the statement said, adding: “Due to the extent of damage, the buildings are beyond economic repair and must be demolished. It is therefore proposed to demolish the buildings and clear the site.

“The floors of the building and the surrounding external area are contaminated, both by particles of ACMs and also petrochemicals and other hazardous substances due to the use of the building as a commercial garage and workshop (full extent of contamination to be confirmed when safe access is available to the site).

“It is proposed to remove existing concrete slabs and contaminated ground surfaces down to a suitable level and backfill with inert compacted hardcore/gravel to provide a clean and permeable surface, until any future redevelopment (subject to the necessary separate consents) is undertaken.   Existing vegetation to boundary walls will be cleared to provide a neat and tidy appearance.”

The report said the historic fabric of the site was lost when the original car dealership building was constructed in the second half of 20th century; the workshop buildings to be demolished are presumed to have been constructed at a slightly later date, being added to in a piecemeal fashion over the years.

“The fire damaged buildings do not contribute positively to the Conservation Area or relate well to the surrounding historical fabric or listed buildings. Their demolition, whilst being necessary from and health & safety and public welfare perspective, will allow for a replacement to be constructed in a more sympathetic style, to better relate to the context of the Conservation Area, subject to approval of a separate, future planning application.”

The application was conditionally approved earlier this month.

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