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IBERS Deputy Director to address Pembrokeshire NFU Cymru conference

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director addressPROFESSOR WILL HARESIGN, Deputy Director at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) will be guest speaker at the Pembrokeshire NFU Cymru County Conference on Thursday, 9 January 2014.

Held at the Nantyffin Hotel, Llandisillio, the meeting will commence at 7.30pm. NFU Cymru members are invited to listen to Professor Will Haresign report on developments at the Institute and will have an opportunity to take part in a question and answer session afterwards.

Professor Will Haresign obtained a BSc in Animal Science from the University of Nottingham in 1971. He then studied for a PhD in Animal Physiology at Nottingham, undertaking research on the induction of out-of-season breeding in sheep, before being appointed to a Lectureship in Animal Production in 1974. He was subsequently promoted to Senior Lecturer in Animal Production in 1988 and to Reader in Animal Production in 1994, before transferring to the Institute of Rural Sciences (now IBERS), Aberystwyth University in 1996 as Professor of Agriculture.

Mike Plumb, NFU Cymru County Chairman for Pembrokeshire, said, “We are very grateful to Professor Haresign for agreeing to come and speak at our conference and also to HSBC Bank for sponsoring the event. I hope we will get a good turnout of local NFU Cymru members. Please also encourage your friends and neighbours to come along.”

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Cheesy names for Folly Farm’s five Humboldt Penguin Chicks

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FOLLY FARM has announced the arrival of five new baby Humboldt penguin chicks—the first penguin chicks to hatch at the zoo since 2021!

Keepers have resumed breeding Humboldt penguins as part of a managed European Breeding Programme for the species, facilitated by their membership with the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA). These chicks are the first to arrive at the zoo in three years!

Humboldt penguins are classified as a vulnerable species, facing numerous threats in the wild. Breeding had been on hold at Folly Farm, and the keepers are thrilled to be able to breed again.

The delightful new penguin chicks are growing rapidly and are snug in their nest boxes, cared for by both parents who alternate feeding duties while the other enjoys a swim in the pool. Chicks can double or even triple in weight every couple of days! In a few weeks, they will leave their nests and be taken by experienced keepers to their Penguin Nursery facility, where they will spend a few weeks learning to feed on whole fish and swim in their small ‘baby pool’, before graduating to the main pool with the rest of the colony.

The naming theme for this season is cheese, with the chicks being named Mozzarella, Camembert, Cheddar, Halloumi, and Gorgonzola. Who doesn’t love cheese?

Penguin Keeper and Assistant Zoo Manager Caz Davies shared her excitement: “We’re so excited to have chicks again. Each breeding season, keepers choose a catchy naming theme to easily identify the birds. Penguin chicks can’t be sexed until they’re a bit older and feather samples can be taken, so we’ll just have to wait for a gender reveal for now!”

‘Mozzarella’ was the first to hatch on 30 March to parents, ‘Magnum’ and ‘Feast’, followed by ‘Camembert’ on 2 April, whose parents are ‘Perci’ and ‘Puffy’. ‘Cheddar’ arrived soon after on 5 May to ‘Whippy’ and ‘Pippy’, and ‘Halloumi’ hatched on 10 May to first-time parents ‘Einstein’ and ‘Darwin’. ‘Gorgonzola’ is the youngest chick and hatched on 14 May to ‘Popple’ and ‘Pudding’.

Penguin Coast is currently home to 22 Humboldt and 14 Macaroni penguins. Guests won’t be able to see the newest arrivals quite yet—but keep watching Folly Farm’s website and social platforms for updates!

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Tafarn Sinc community pub’s call to keep disabled access granted

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A PEMBROKESHIRE community pub, which earned the support of a Hollywood star, has been allowed to keep a disabled access walkway and restored platform used for performances by local choirs.

In a retrospective application submitted to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Cymdeithas Tafarn Sinc sought permission to retain works at the Tafarn Sinc community pub in Rosebush.

In its submission, the community group said: “An existing platform adjacent to the pub has been restored and slightly expanded; with a new access walkway installed.

“The walkway was added for Health and Safety reasons and allows both able bodied and disabled people to safely access the platform. The platform is used for a variety of activities, such as performances by local choirs.

“The platform was formerly railway platform on a small branch line, and has been restored to look as it did when it was operational.”

The works were undertaken in 2022, the application said.

Tafarn Sinc had been in danger of closing when the old landlord and landlady retired back in 2017 but a huge fund-raising effort that attracted worldwide interest – including support from Hollywood star Rhys Ifans – meant it is now owned and run by the local community.

Campaigners raised a staggering £325,000 in little more than three months to buy the pub and keep it open and at the heart of community life.

Other public figures like Huw Edwards, Jamie Owen, Dewi Pws, Dafydd Hywel and ‘Heno’ presenter Mari Grug gave their support, with £200 shares bought by people from all over the world.

An officer report for the scheme proposed said: “The pub itself is constructed from corrugated metal and has an historical, industrial appearance. Historically, Rosebush Railway Station was adjacent and to the west of the pub building, built as part of the same development in the latter 19th century.

“A section of the Maenclochog Railway and platform still exist and form part of the pub and village’s visitor attraction. An inaccessible platform mock-up of a family of passengers had existed prior to this current development.”

Recommending approval it said: “The scale of proposal is proportionate to the existing ‘railway’ features and will create little impact on the special qualities of the National Park.

“There is concern however that the proposal could create an amenity impact for which this proposal has not been assessed for. An appropriate condition restricting the use of the development to prevent harmful noise pollution is therefore included.”

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Broad Haven surfers to join national protest against sewage

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BROAD HAVEN Beach will be one of over 30 locations across the UK hosting protesters today, as thousands take to coasts and rivers to demand an end to sewage pollution. The nationwide protests are organised by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), who are calling for immediate action to stop the sewage discharges that are contaminating the UK’s waterways and harming both ecological and human health.

From Cornwall to Edinburgh, local beaches and rivers will see demonstrations, with flagship protests at West Pier in Brighton and Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth. Notably, double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes will join protesters on the south coast, highlighting the widespread support for the cause.

Giles Bristow, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage, commented: “Once again, the public face a grim choice this summer – risk swallowing sewage or forgo a dip in the water. This year offers an opportunity to turn our collective anger into action and end the sewage scandal. Politicians must now listen, with a general election imminent and public sentiment clear. All parties need to show genuine and quantifiable commitments to eliminate sewage pollution, or they will face the consequences.”

The issue of water quality is expected to be a significant factor influencing voters in the next general election, which must occur before January 2025. In June, regulator Ofwat will deliver recommendations on water companies’ investment plans for the next five years. Water companies have proposed £11 billion in investment to reduce sewage discharges, with corresponding increases in customer bills, a move that has sparked public outrage, especially considering the profits paid out to water company executives and shareholders.

According to the Financial Times, water companies in England and Wales paid out £2.5 billion in dividends over the past two financial years, and over £78 billion since privatisation 33 years ago.

Bristow added: “Thousands are protesting this weekend to demand clean seas and rivers. We need ambitious plans to end sewage pollution in high-priority nature sites and the waters we swim, surf, and paddle in by 2030. The public will not tolerate this broken system any longer.”

Dame Kelly Holmes, set to paddle out with protesters in Brighton, emphasised the importance of clean waterways: “I love nothing more than getting out into the open water on my paddle-board – it does wonders for my mental health, and there’s a strong sense of community among those who use our wild waterways. But this special pastime is tainted by the persistent risk of pollution. It’s shocking and infuriating that whole generations are deprived of safely enjoying our blue spaces. Our waterways are crucial for our health and wellbeing, and it’s scandalous how they are treated.”

In 2023, there were 584,001 recorded sewage discharges across England, Scotland, and Wales—a 51% increase from the previous year—totaling 12,966,322 hours of sewage released into waterways. United Utilities was the worst offender, with 97,537 discharges, followed by Yorkshire Water and Severn Trent Water. Welsh Water reported 108,860 discharges, although these figures are not directly comparable due to different reporting methods.

This weekend, paddle-outs will occur in most water company catchments, including Scottish Water, which recorded 15,289 spills last year, and Northern Ireland Water, which lacks discharge data due to insufficient monitoring.

The Environment Agency claims that 100% of storm overflows in England are now fitted with monitoring devices. However, SAS analysis reveals that monitors at 1,930 storm overflows, representing 13.3% of the total, are operating below 90% capacity, suggesting that the reported figures for England in 2023 are underestimated.

Local protest organiser and SAS supporter Sally McGee highlighted the impact on Tynemouth’s beaches: “Every surfer across the UK knows the risk of getting sick if they surf. Many beaches around Tynemouth are subjected to raw sewage discharge during storms. It’s upsetting and feels like we are going backwards in time. We demand an end to sewage discharges in our bathing waters by 2030.”

Surfers Against Sewage is calling for the end of sewage discharges into all bathing waters and high-priority nature sites by 2030, urging water companies, regulators, and politicians to prioritise people and nature over profit.

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