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County Court holds first remote hearing

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by Tess Delaney

THE FIRST hearing to be held under Coronavirus distancing rules at Haverfordwest County Court last Friday upheld the right of access needed by Chrystia and Keith Hertogs to run their sustainable holding in Llanycefn.
The court considered whether the holding’s use of the historic stone road from Rhydwilym towards Maenclochog and Llanycefn, was limited by the public bridleway rights that also make use of the same road.
The hearing ended with all parties agreeing that the Hertogs’s holding has ‘the right of road or way’ along the stone road, ‘at all times and for all purposes’, with an injunction in place to protect their use.
Chrystia Hertogs explains: ‘Local roads like this one have many uses, added over centuries of local history. Farms and houses often have private rights of access, which are in no way reduced or limited, by the road’s also later being designated as a public bridleway.’
Groundwork contractor John Llewellyn from Crymych, who was a remote witness in the hearing, commented: ‘I was born in Glan Rhydwilym. I know that whole area like the back of my hand. Those upper fields of Dolfelfed farm were always run, using that stone road.
“I went to school, and to friends’ houses, along it. My sister’s best friend went to school at Nant-y-Cwm, and lived at Cefn Mwynant.
“Aged 17, I drove out hay myself, from the fields of Keith’s holding, over the same stone road.’
Mr Mark Dyson, a retired planning lawyer, acted as McKenzie friend (legal supporter) to Dr Hertogs.
“My own view,” said Mr Dyson, “is that, since we are at the tipping point into massive climate catastrophe, access to land should urgently be made easier for the increasing number of people who want to do the work of sustainably improving soil carbon, and planting trees. These are now mainstream aims of Wales and UK policy, and I’m pleased with today’s decision.”
Keith and Chrystia Hertogs find, after ten years of regenerative agriculture, tree-planting and use of local biomass to improve the depleted pasture soil, that salad, fruit, and vegetable crops now produce well.
“The United Nations’ Farming and Agriculture Organisation estimates that 30% of the world’s soils are degraded, so Wales is not alone in needing regenerative action.” Keith said.
He continued: “European farm soils were formed during millennia of tree-cover, and have now been used for a couple of centuries without replenishment. Regeneration re-creates soil from planted trees, nitrogen-fixing perennials, green manure, sustainable, brief, grazing rotation, and silvipasture.”
The Welsh Government’s target is to plant 1000 km2 of new trees, an area about the size of Pembrokeshire, by 2030, spread throughout Wales.
Dr Hertogs said: “The Welsh Government’s sustainability policy, ‘One Wales, One Planet’ is uniquely forward-looking. It’s strongly based on environment and economic evidence, not the wishful dream of limitless consuming, exceeding global resource limits, which is – right now – destroying our planet.
“The policy’s One Planet Development thinking, deserves to change the norm, to provide low-impact work, housing, and new food-growing by ordinary people across Wales.’
“One Planet Development fits perfectly with the work I did in the NHS, encouraging physical work and healthy food, to help people avoid diabetes and heart disease.”
During their delivery round of greens and salads, Keith and Christyia havre found many local people, including young people, have started growing their own during the coronavirus lockdown.
Keith concluded: “This is exactly the time for all of us as new, successful gardeners, to plan and plant trees and nitrogenous bushes, so we can feed our soil, keeping it healthy and productive for future generations.”

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‘Reach out to friends and family’ says Council Leader

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THIS week’s update from Cllr David Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council:

‘Hello everyone, I hope you are all keeping well and safe.

‘I’d like to highlight that this week is Mental Health Awareness Week.

‘I’m very aware that the last 15 months has had a huge impact on our lives and, in some cases, our wellbeing.

‘Mental Health can be a hidden issue and we all need to be aware that some people may need some extra support.

‘On a personal level the lockdown restrictions have reminded me of the importance to talk to people and to ensure people are supported.

‘Supporting your friends and family can be as simple as a phone call to say hello. A quick hello can ensure people are ok and managing and can give someone a huge uplift.

“Our communities have done a fantastic job of supporting each other so please, Team Pembrokeshire, continue these efforts.

‘I urge you all to pick up the phone and say hello to your friends and family, as we all need to play our role in everyone’s wellbeing – talking about issues does make a difference.

‘If you are suffering from Mental Health or general wellbeing issues please reach out, do not struggle on your own, your friends and family can help and make a difference.

‘Please also take the opportunity to also view the website at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week which has much more information and support.

‘I now want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in last week’s elections.

‘Elections take a phenomenal amount of organisation at the best of times but even more so in a pandemic situation.

‘To all those who ensured the smooth running of the elections process, thank you.

‘Congratulations to all the successful candidates and I look forward to working with them to further improve the lives of Pembrokeshire people.

‘We have now had further updates from Welsh Government and the next phase of the unlocking road map has been unveiled.

‘From Monday, 17th May, indoor hospitality can re-open.

‘Up to six people from six different households will be able to meet indoors in pubs, cafes and restaurants.

‘We have so many fantastic hospitality venues in Pembrokeshire who we know will be giving their customers a big welcome after so long away.

‘The opening of indoor hospitality will be a major landmark in our emergence from the pandemic and towards recovery.

‘While out and about please remember social distancing rules are still in pace, consider your actions on others, remember your footprint has an impact on our communities, so please tread lightly.

‘When you go home, leave with a smile – enjoy your days out, enjoy seeing your families and most importantly enjoy our beautiful county and please support us in keeping Pembrokeshire special – play your part and please be responsible.

‘I want to wish you all a lovely weekend and I look forward to talking to you all again next week through my update.

‘Thank you everyone.’

You can keep up to date with all the Council’s press releases here: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom

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Plan to rescue rare butterfly from extinction in Pembrokeshire

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE Coast National Park Authority is stepping up efforts to save the marsh fritillary butterfly, which was once widespread in Wales but is now close to extinction in Pembrokeshire.

Funded by the Pembrokeshire Nature Partnership, the new landscape scale strategy aims to improve the fortunes of the rare species, which relies on networks of flower rich marshy grasslands across the landscape.

Much of this habitat, which is home to the favourite food of its larva – the devil’s bit scabious (succisa pratensis), has been lost due to drainage, inappropriate tree planting and the neglect of traditional management of grasslands through light grazing with heavy animals such as cattle.

National Park AuthorityBiodiversity Officer, Sarah Mellor said: “The marsh fritillary in Pembrokeshire is now in a very precarious position. We think it has already become extinct in a number of areas in its former range and it has not been seen on the St Davids Peninsula since 2013. The population around Keeston and Tiers Cross is also now thought to be extinct.

“We must find a way to make space for wildlife in our landscape to ensure that nature can thrive for future generations. It is quite sobering to think this species could disappear from Pembrokeshire in my lifetime. We have a responsibility not to let this happen on our watch.

“Even in those areas where it remains we have seen dramatic declines, for example around Mychanchlogddu it used to be recorded from 32 sites, but since 2015 it has only been seen at seven sites.”

The National Park Authority has already stepped up its action to rescue the rare butterfly by assisting landowners to bring sites into suitable management through grant aid and providing suitable grazing animals through the Pembrokeshire Grazing Network and the Conserving the Park Scheme.

The new strategy will include mobilising Park Authority staff and volunteers to undertake targeted surveys at sites across the county, as well as helping landowners to manage their land in a sensitive way to help ensure the future of this rare butterfly.

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Santander turns away customers due to nationwide computer glitch

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CUSTOMERS of Santander in Haverfordwest were being turned away this morning by branch staff saying that they were unable to make transactions due to a computer glitch. It is understood that branches use the same computer systems which run the bank’s other systems.

Problems arouse last night when computer updates which the bank was implementing did not go to plan.

Some Herald readers contacted the news room to speak of their surprise that they were not able to access their funds.

One reader, who had gone to the bank to withdraw funds to pay rent on his home was told that there was nothing that could be done.

Website and App transactions are also being affected at the high street bank, and card transactions are being declined

The head of money at consumer magazine Which?, Gareth Shaw, said many customers will be stressed, “with people reporting that they have been unable to make online payments or in some cases purchase food in their local supermarket”.

“Customers can incur fines, penalties and fees when they’re not able to access their finances, so the bank must offer compensation to all those who have been impacted in this way”.

Santander told customers they can “access cash from other banks’ ATMs, at the Post Office and can get cashback where that’s available”.

A service status page on its website said planned maintenance was due to be performed on the Santander mobile banking app overnight on Friday. It is not known whether this prompted Saturday’s problems.

On Twitter, a Santander spokesperson said: “We’re sorry that a technical problem is affecting our services, our teams are working hard to fix it.

“You can access cash from other banks’ ATMs. Please check back here for further updates.”

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