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Row over Mustang debts escalating

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A ROW over debts owed by Mustang Marine, the uncertainty over Murco oil refinery, and an ambitious £70m plan for the redevelopment of Milford Docks were the main topics of Milford Haven Port Authority’s annual meeting on Friday (May 30). 

The chairman of Milford Haven Port Authority, Peter Jones, told a packed conference suite at the Cleddau Bridge hotel, that 2013 had been “a very difficult year” for the organisation, adding: “The £2.7m hole caused by the collapse of Mustang Marine was a matter of deep regret to us.” With a security guard keeping watch over proceedings, he went on to say that 2014 was set to also be a challenging year due to “the certainty over Murco Oil refinery which accounts for 20% of shipping movements on the haven.” Chief Executive of the authority, Alec Don, took to the podium next. He started off his speech by making his position clear over the failed boat building firm. With a handful of creditors sitting in the audience of the Annual Consultative Meeting he said firmly: “The legal position is that we are not liable for Mustang’s debts. Do we have a responsibility? Yes, we feel we have a responsibility, but not a legal liability.” He added: “We put resources in to help turn Mustang around, but it became clear that it wasn’t just a management problem. Once administration had occurred we worked with the administrator to ensure he could sell parts of the firm to people or new managers who could take those business forward. Mr. Don announced that Milford Haven engineering firm BDS was taking over the dry dock for at least the next five years, and a new firm called Haven Marine Services would be taking over some of the boat repair work. Both of these deals, he said, had secured the employment of some of the former Mustang workers. Bruce Evens, of Evens & Co. Accountants – at the meeting representing creditors of Mustang – took the mic and said that he had help found Haven Marine Services as a community interest company (CIC), but with the idea of putting profits back into a pot for creditors. He said that MHPA had agreed to give £10,000 by way of a grant to the CIC, but Mr. Evans said that MHPA should be doing more. He added: “Perhaps MHPA can find a way to help the community further. The problem that Haven Marine Services is new – making a profit will take time. What the creditors need is more help now. We have just seen that MHPA has got £9m sat in the bank right now.” He added: “Most people think that if it swims like a duck, and if it quacks like a duck, then it is a duck. We have to work together as a county. Many of the creditors did business with Mustang on the understanding that it was a subsidiary of MHPA. Alec Don then told the meeting: “We as the port are not seeking to recover our losses from the CIC, so that assists the CIC to help the local community” later adding: We’re not a charity. We have gone way beyond what any other commercial organisation would have done in terms of making sure that there were the resources around management and other issues to see that opportunity emerge.” He added: “What we had in Mustang was a 50% share, if we wanted a 60% or a 70% share then we would have bought a 60% or a 70% share.” But one creditor was not impressed. Mr Jo Polak of JP Junior Scaffolding, who is owed over £40,000 asked Mr Don one question. He said: “Would you please tell me if you think that the small, local businesses [who were working with Mustang] would have let the credit get so high unless they thought that Mustang was being backed by the Port Authority as a 50% shareholder?” Mr Don answered by saying he did not know what those businesses thought. Mr. Don told the meeting that outline planning permission had been submitted to Pembrokeshire County Council for the Milford Docks Master Plan “today.” He said that the plan, which The Herald has covered in detail in previous weeks, would create 600 jobs. To his critics who have said that the plans are too ambitious Mr. Don said: “We’ll its happening, in fact, we have already started with the Milford Dock Lock project, which itself is a £6m investment for us.” We have a separate article in this edition of The Herald about the master plan. The project, he said, would help develop tourism, leisure and fishing in the county. “The are currently 617 people employed at the port not including the oil refineries.” “Our aim is to increase that to 2000 jobs by 2020” he said. Speaking on the telephone on Wednesday, a spokesman for KO Carpets who are owed £4246 by Mustang Marine for fitting floors and carpets for boats told the Herald that they were “disappointed with the whole affair”

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Natural Resources Wales approves Ireland-UK interconnector licence

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GREENLINK INTERCONNECTOR LIMITED says it welcomes the decision by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to approve its application for a Marine Licence for the Greenlink electricity interconnector project, which will link the power markets of Great Britain and Ireland.

An important project for Pembrokeshire, and the UK as a whole, NRW’s go-ahead is one of several consents required for the construction of the project and covers installation of the marine cable in UK waters.

The approval is a major milestone for Greenlink and joins the onshore planning consents granted unanimously in July last year by Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Greenlink’s proposed 190km subsea and underground electricity cable will run beneath the Irish Sea to connect National Grid’s Pembroke Power Station in Wales and EirGrid’s Great Island substation in County Wexford, Ireland. It will have a nominal capacity of 500 MW.

The Wales-Ireland link is just one of four interconnectors being installed

Nigel Beresford, CEO for Greenlink Interconnector Limited, said: “We are delighted by Natural Resources Wales’s decision to grant this licence. This marks a significant milestone for Greenlink and another important step towards project construction, which we expect to commence later this year.

“The Greenlink team has worked constructively with Natural Resources Wales and Welsh marine stakeholders to find workable solutions to the many technical and environmental challenges facing a large infrastructure project like this, and this has been reflected in the quality of the final proposal.

“The thorough environmental and technical assessments we have undertaken, supported by the practical and value-adding feedback we have received from key marine stakeholders, have ensured that we move forward confident that we are delivering a well-designed project with the interests of the Welsh marine habitat at its core.”

The subsea section of the cable will be approximately 160km in length and uses high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology. The preferred route and installation methods were chosen following the conclusion of subsea surveys and consultation with key stakeholders.

In Ireland, a Foreshore Licence application was submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Foreshore Unit) in 2019 and the onshore planning application was submitted to An Bord Pleanála in December 2020.

Greenlink is one of Europe’s most important energy infrastructure projects and brings benefits on both sides of the Irish Sea for energy security, regional investment, jobs and the cost-effective integration of low carbon energy. The project will offer important local supply chain opportunities and plans are being drawn up for ‘meet-the-buyer’ events in the local area prior to construction.

Once fully consented, Greenlink is expected to have a three-year construction programme, with commissioning planned by the end of 2023.

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Appeal from Fire and Rescue Service to install working smoke alarms

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AT 01:17am this morning, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, crews from Milford Haven were called to a property fire in the Hakin area of Milford Haven.

The fire was confined to a pan on a stove in the kitchen area and extinguished by firefighters using two breathing apparatus, a hose reel jet and a thermal imaging camera.

Crews also ventilated the property and fitted smoke alarms within the property.

The Fire Service left the incident at 02:00am.

Watch Manager Alun Griffiths, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said “This fire was the result of cooking left unattended. It is so important to remove all pots and pans from a heat source when you are called away from the cooker.

“Thankfully, the occupiers of the property managed to exit the property before our firefighters arrived, but it could have ended very differently as there were no smoke alarms fitted in the property.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of installing working smoke alarms in your homes and testing them regularly. In the dreadful event of a fire, they can alert you to the danger sooner and could mean the difference between life and death.

“As a Fire and Rescue Service, we provide Home Fire Safety advice which is free of charge. We also offer Safe and Well Visits which you can arrange by phoning us on 0800 169 1234 or by visiting the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website.”

For further Home Fire Safety advice or to talk about the possibility of a Safe and Well Visit by Fire and Rescue Service personnel, please phone us on 0800 169 1234.​​​ Alternatively please complete an online Request a Safe and Well Visit​ form on the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website: https://www.mawwfire.gov.uk/eng/your-safety/in-your-home/

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Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent

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A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire overnight.

Callum Hicks, of Meyler Crescent, was woken just after 1am on Monday morning (Mar 1) to see his vehicle in flames, with fuel running down the street on fire.

The apocalyptic scenes brought neighbours out of their homes and the fire brigade was quickly called and put out the blaze.

At this time the police and fire brigade are not suspecting foul play, but in a telephone call to a Herald reporter Callum Hicks said that he thought it was impossible that the vehicle would just spontaneously combust.

Work van: Callum Hicks with his truck, which he says was his “pride and joy”

Explaining that he thought his truck had been set on fire deliberately, he said: “There was CCTV of the fire, but its a football pitch length away, with a white van parked blocking the view of the camera. There was not a clear uninterrupted view.”

“I parked the truck at 2pm on Sunday afternoon so it was 11 hours before the fire started. The vehicle was therefore cold, and locked up.”

Firefighters at the scene

The Herald has asked two mechanics, one of whom has worked on Transit vans for decades. The first said: “It is very unlikely that a vehicle like this would catch fire on it’s own – its impossible – I am 99.9% sure that this was arson.”

The second, a specialist in vehicle electronics said: “There are so many fuses and fail safes its highly unlikely for diesel vans to burst into flames like this without some kind of catalyst.”

Burned out shell: The vehicle after the fire

“There have been issues regarding Transits in the past, even a product recall involving a fire risk from a towing module. But, the chances are a million to one of it catching fire after being parked up for almost twelve hours. It just doesn’t happen.”

The Herald asked Callum Hicks if he could think of anyone who may want to torch his truck. He said that he could not think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Commenting on the police handling of the matter, he said: “They told my missus, Rhianna Pearce, that they were not taking matters further because it was just an accident – its not!”

“I have been in trouble with the police before, and they know I am a bit of a boy, but I think this is the reason that the police are not looking into this properly.

“At the end of the day this was a large fire in a residential area, lives could have been in danger. I have lost thousands because I was insured third-party only and I do not have cover for fire.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been asked for a comment.

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