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FUW welcomes Pembrokeshire council’s sky lantern ban

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lantern banTHE FARMERS UNION OF WALES today welcomed Pembrokeshire County Council’s decision to back the union’s campaign to persuade Welsh local authorities to ban the release of sky lanterns on all the land they own.

The union has also urged other local authorities, other landowning bodies and retailers around Wales to follow suit.

“We welcome the county council’s decision to ban sky lanterns and we regard it as an opportunity to repeat the union’s long-standing campaign for a total ban on them,” said FUW Pembrokeshire county chairman Hywel Vaughan.

“We would also make a similar plea to hotels and other wedding venues to introduce such a ban at their premises.”

The council’s cabinet recommended the introduction of a voluntary ban on the release of sky lanterns and helium balloons from council owned or controlled land and called for a communication exercise to make consumers and charity organisations aware of the associated risks.

“Cabinet members were told the FUW was among a wide range of organisations, including the Marine Conservation Society, RNLI, RSPCA and various fire and rescue services, concerned about the possible impact of sky lanterns and helium balloons on livestock and the environment,” added Mr Vaughan.

“Those concerns include risks to animal welfare through ingestion of debris left by them in the countryside, the sea and on the coastline. As sky lanterns contain a naked flame, there were additional concerns about the fire risk to buildings, property and crops from uncontrolled landings,” Mr Vaughan added.

Last year the Welsh Government and Defra jointly commissioned an independent research project on the impact on livestock, plants and the environment of sky lantern and helium balloon releases but their report concluded any impact on the environment and risk of widespread injury or death to livestock was low.

However, it found the risk from sky lanterns to buildings, agricultural crops and moorland was significant and the Welsh Government is now encouraging local authorities to introduce a voluntary ban on the release of sky lanterns and helium balloons from council owned or controlled land and discourage their use and release wherever possible.

In evidence to the joint report, the FUW stated that after consulting its members throughout Wales it received numerous reports of lanterns found in fields being grazed, about to be grazed, or cut for silage or hay.

Other more serious reports received included a lantern found smouldering in a barn containing hay and straw and a cow injured following a stampede started by lanterns floating over fields containing livestock.

“The materials used in the construction of these lanterns pose a danger to livestock, particularly if the wire or bamboo from the frame of the lantern is chopped up during the silage making process and contaminates feedstocks,” said Mr Vaughan.

“We have also repeatedly warned that sky lanterns pose a considerable fire risk and this latest incident demonstrates why there should be an outright ban on the manufacture and sale of sky lanterns, and that their release should be made illegal in the UK.”

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Castell Howell Foods highlights sector concerns over Covid recovery

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THE HOSPITALITY sector may be opening up, but transport and supply issues are hampering the industry’s recovery – according to Castell Howell Foods.

One of the UK’s largest independent food wholesalers, Castell Howell, has taken the step of contacting customers to highlight the significant challenges faced by the sector as it recovers from the pandemic.

While there is relief at easing lockdown and optimism for a busy summer with bookings for UK ‘staycations’ and leisure activities, pressing issues remain.

Shortages of key staff and problems faced by some suppliers have resulted in the Welsh wholesaler being forced to make some “uncomfortable” decisions and changes to its operation, including having to pass on some supply chain price increases.

In particular, a shortage of qualified delivery drivers has meant the Cross Hands based business has had to be resourceful to maintain its delivery frequency to its customers. To help bridge the gap in the short term, other Castell Howell staff who hold an HGV licence have been temporarily redeployed to the transport department. Among them are area sales managers.

Castell Howell Sales Director, Kathryn Jones, said “Unfortunately, due to the drastic reduction in sales in 2020, our workforce decreased by over 100 colleagues. Whilst we now need most to return to the workplace, many have found alternative employment; this is a common theme across the supply chain.

“We have been actively advertising and recruiting for several months. However, as highlighted in the press, there are over 75,000 vacancies across the UK for HGV drivers alone.

“We too are currently short of drivers, especially Class 2 HGV. Driving a multi-drop vehicle for Castell Howell is a very different proposition to driving a limited drop schedule. Consequently, as you can imagine, it has been challenging to fill these vacancies.”
Stock availability is also an issue, as some suppliers struggle to manufacture under new social distancing rules. Delivery to Castell Howell from suppliers is also being affected by the UK-wide shortage of haulage drivers.

Kathryn Jones said, “To build up buffer stocks, we are increasing our volume of orders, especially for commodity lines. We aim to mitigate future stock shortages the best we can. We are constantly seeking substitute products from manufacturers who have the capacity to deliver. However, this is becoming increasingly more difficult.”

Castell Howell has made changes to its ordering process to improve its own deliveries, with earlier cut-off times.

“These changes go against the grain and were extremely difficult decisions to take. However, it is imperative to implement these in order to continue operating under these difficult circumstances whilst still maintaining a high level of service. We are very grateful to our customers for their support, patience and understanding.”

For Castell Howell, the difficulties arising from the pandemic were exacerbated by the loss of business with SA Brain & Co. This loss occurred following the Welsh company’s deal with brewery giant Marston’s to operate SA Brains pubs from January 2021.

Before that date, Castell Howell had been the sole supplier to SA Brain since 2008, including supplying 80 of the Welsh brewery’s managed public houses.

Kathryn Jones said, “However, despite the challenges in the supply chain and deliveries, we remain optimistic that the sector in the UK will work together to navigate through these unprecedented times and have a successful summer.”

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Port boss: Pembroke Dock development full permission an ‘important step’

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THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the Port of Milford Haven has welcomed a decision of “non-intervention” by the Welsh Government over plans to re-vamp Pembroke Dock’s historic port facilities.

The redevelopment scheme, approved by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Planning Committee in May, will see some areas such as a dock covered with sand and “infilled”.

Plans also include the demolishing of some buildings, erection of buildings and ancillary works.
Despite planning being granted at council level, full authorisation to go ahead with the development was not to be issued until the Welsh Government made its decision regards the matter.

More about the planning application can be read here: https://www.herald.wales/west-wales/pembrokeshire/major-marine-project-causes-concern-about-visual-impact-and-heritage-loss/

Now that the Welsh Government has decided not to interfere with Pembrokeshire County Council’s grant of planning permission, the Port’s boss, Andy Jones, expressed his delight, saying: “This marks an important step forward in the development of Wales’ clean energy centre at Pembroke Dock.

“It will provide sustainable opportunities for the many people who rely on the activity along the Milford Haven Waterway for employment.

CEO: Port Authority’s Andy Jones (Pic MHPA)

“Pembroke Dock Marine will unlock new opportunities for young people to enter the maritime, renewable and engineering sectors, build resilience within Pembrokeshire’s business community, and make a positive contribution to our natural environment as we transition to a low carbon energy generation.”

Tim James, head of commercial and energy at the Port of Milford Haven called the project a “once in a generation opportunity to improve Pembrokeshire’s economy for years to come”.

Objectors had complained that the plans were too large and would damage the historic dockyard, as well as having a visual impact on the dock.

The was opposition from local heritage campaigners, with complaints over the size of two huge proposed hangars which the project’s critics said would impact adversely the landscape.

The economic benefits of the £60 million marine energy “far outweigh” any impact on the historic environment, a report earlier this year to council planners said.

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Medical evacuation from LPG tanker off St Ann’s Head

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ANGLE Lifeboat was launched on service at 12:59pm on Thursday afternoon (Jun 10) to assist in a medical evacuation from a LPG tanker 13 miles SSW off St Ann’s Head.

The coastguard helicopter from Newquay in Cornwall was also on route. With the poor visibility due to fog, Angle all-weather lifeboat was to stand by the vessel to provide an alternative route for evacuation if needed.

After a choppy route in the poor visibility the RNLI volunteers arrived on scene at 2:07pm.

At the time of their arrival, the paramedic from the coastguard helicopter was aboard the vessel preparing the casualty to be winched to the helicopter.

In less than ten minutes the casualty was winched up to the helicopter and flown to hospital, at which point the lifeboat and crews were stood down and headed back to the station.

After rehousing shortly after 3:30pm the lifeboat was washed fuelled and made ready for service shortly after.

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