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Farming

Agri-tech innovation centre completed

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ON TIME and on budget, the final set of keys were handed over at the Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus (AberInnovation) on Monday, August 24, to mark the completion of the new world-leading bioscience facility after a two-year construction programme.

The AberInnovation team, along with key stakeholders and representatives from construction contractor Willmott Dixon, celebrated the completion of the final building at the new Campus’s Innovation Hub.

Maintaining social distancing, the team held a ceremonial key handover to recognise the completion of the project which has seen the creation of a new Biorefining Centre, Seed Biobank and Processing Facility, Future Food Centre, Advanced Analysis Centre and Innovation Hub.

Dr Rhian Hayward MBE, Chief Executive Officer at AberInnovation said: “AberInnovation is a major investment in the research and innovation infrastructure for the UK. I am delighted to receive the keys from our contractors, who have delivered these complex facilities to an exceptional standard.

“We are already attracting a pipeline of collaborative projects to be hosted in the new buildings which is a testament to the vision of our investors. AberInnovation will be a catalyst for innovative, interdisciplinary research and development and we look forward to supporting new product development and job creation.”

The handover marks the start of the operational phase of the Campus which was recently and awarded an additional £3m in revenue funding from the Welsh Government.

Jeremy Miles, Counsel General and Minister for European Transition in Welsh Government, said: “This new facility will create excellent quality jobs, new opportunities for Welsh businesses and enable world-leading research in bioscience to take place at the University – it’s great news for Aberystwyth and the local economy as we rebuild Wales following the pandemic. I’m delighted the Welsh Government has been able to support this venture with £23m through our European Regional Development Fund programmes.”

With this support AberInnovation is now perfectly placed to develop a pipeline of collaborative research and development projects within the biotechnology, agri-tech, and food and drink sectors.

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University said: “Today marks a hugely significant milestone for the Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus and for the University’s Gogerddan campus.

“This development forms one of three major capital projects at Aberystwyth University and I congratulate everyone who has been involved with delivering the work on time and on budget – no mean feat in the current climate.

“The challenges we face are unprecedented and these new cutting-edge facilities for collaborative research and development projects within the biotechnology, agri-tech, and food and drink sectors offer an exciting prospect and an important and timely boost for the Welsh economy, and in particular the rural economy of mid and west Wales.”

Construction has continued safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, with contractor Willmott Dixon strictly implementing the Construction Leadership Council’s Site Operating Procedures.

Neal Stephens, Managing Director Willmott Dixon said: “It is great that we have been able to hand over the final building today. Despite everything that COVID-19 has thrown at us, the team have worked tirelessly to keep the project both safe and operational throughout. It is a testament to everyone involved that we have delivered the project on time and on budget.

“This new facility is going to play such an important role in protecting our food, water and energy security now and in the future; and we are delighted in playing our role in helping make that happen.”

Bill Poll, BBSRC’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “As one of the partners investing in the Campus, BBSRC is excited to see the completion of this key milestone and how these facilities will enable AberInnovation to continue driving the development of a vibrant and thriving innovation community, enabling entrepreneurs and businesses to collaborate with researchers, access specialist facilities, and benefit from support networks and targeted events.”

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, BBSRC – part of UK Research and Innovation – and Aberystwyth University, the Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus provides a world-leading facility for bio-science research

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Farming

Appeal for dog walkers to keep pets under control during lambing season

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THE LAMBING season is upon us and with many public paths crossing fields of sheep, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority is appealing to dog walkers to follow best practice when out in the countryside.

While walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail and other public footpaths and bridleways:

Always keep dogs on a short lead and under close control when sheep or any other livestock are present.
Clean up after your dog; bag it and bin it wherever you can or take it away –please do not leave poo bags in the countryside.

National Park Authority Public Rights of Way Officer, Meurig Nicholas said: “If your dog is out of your sight or left out of control, it may chase after, attack or worry sheep. Worried and stressed pregnant sheep can miscarry or abort their lambs.

“Young lambs are also very vulnerable at this time, and can get distressed and even die if they are separated from their mothers or abandoned after being chased by dogs.”

There have also been incidents where dogs have had to be rescued from cliffs because they were not kept under close control.

Mr Nicholas added: “These situations have resulted in emergency services such as the Coastguard and RNLI having to retrieve and rescue dogs. These incidents are avoidable and add unnecessary pressure to our busy emergency services.”

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Farming

Plan for ‘collaborative approach’ to tackling rural crime issues

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THIS week (Mar 9) Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn chaired a strategic meeting with key stakeholders to identify collaborative opportunities to tackle rural and wildlife crime in the Dyfed-Powys area.

Following a meeting with the Farming Unions in Wales earlier this year, Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn is keen to establish a Strategic Partnership Working Group with key stakeholders that will aim to identify ways of working collaboratively to tackle some of the rural and wildlife crime issues in Dyfed-Powys.

Dyfed-Powys Police have recently appointed a Sergeant for the Rural Crime Team, and the Police and Crime Commissioner has been keen to consult with key stakeholders to gain an input from partners to support the development of a new Rural Crime Strategy for the Force.

Key Stakeholders that were invited to be part of the strategic group include both NFU Cymru and FUW unions, as well as local authorities, National Parks, RSPCA and many others.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn said: “I had positive discussions with representatives from both unions earlier this year to highlight some of the rural crime issues in the Dyfed-Powys area.

“One of the priorities identified was the need to take a collaborative approach to tackling rural and wildlife Crime, and the meeting with several key partners today was an opportunity to develop discussions and ideas further”.

Earlier in March, PCC Dafydd Llywelyn published a Rural Crime bulletin, which highlights some of the work that has taken place recently in the Dyfed-Powys area, and cross border collaborative initiatives.

PCC Dafydd Llywelyn noted that this multi agency partnership will aim to build on some of the great work that is already happening, and said;  “This meeting today comes a year on from the successful St. David’s Day Conference focusing on Rural Crime that I held at Police Headquarters last year. The last 12 months have been like no other but sadly crime and incidents affecting the rural community have continued.

“Today’s multiagency Strategic meeting was an opportunity to present the new Sergeant for the specialist team, and to discuss a new website that we are developing in partnership with North Wales Police to provide key crime prevention messages to the agricultural industry – the Future Farms Cymru initiative.

“I’m grateful to all partners who attended the meeting today, and I now look forward to take all comments on board as we look to re-energise and refocus the work of the Dyfed Powys Rural Crime Team.”

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Farming

NFU Cymru ‘responds robustly’ to WG

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NFU CYMRU has said that many proposals within the Welsh Government and Defra’s Welfare in Transport consultation will cause significant disruption to livestock transportation in the UK.

In a robust response to the joint Welsh Government / Defra consultation, the union has stressed the significant impact the proposals would have on the livestock and poultry sectors, and raised concerns that if the proposals are implemented, they will fail to deliver any meaningful benefit to animals’ welfare.

Wyn Evans, NFU Cymru Livestock Board Chairman said: “In order to ensure the best possible welfare outcomes, the main priorities should be the animal’s fitness to travel, loading and unloading, driver training and experience, rather than the length of the journey or the external temperature at the time of transport.

“We firmly believe that the current regulations for domestic transport already deliver high welfare, as a result of the standards, cleanliness and adaptability to different weather conditions of transport boxes in the UK. But as an industry, we want to strive for even better. We believe that in order to do that there should be more focus on certified training and providing clearer, sector-specific guidance, particularly during loading and unloading rather than what is proposed in the consultation. Good welfare and healthy livestock go hand in hand; safe arrival at a destination, be that at market or abattoir, must be and is a priority.

“The transporting of livestock is an integral part of UK food production. The suggested changes to journeys based on duration and weather conditions would cause serious delays and disruption, potentially damaging welfare outcomes, while changes to vehicle requirements would add significant costs. It will also lead to many more journeys being made, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, which work against both farming’s and the government’s net-zero targets.

“Turning to the part of the consultation on live exports, we have inputted our views into a proposed NFU assurance scheme, which is detailed in an appendix in the response. This would be extremely effective in delivering welfare outcomes at the same time as maintaining this trade, as assessing the animals’ health and reporting back to producers is a fundamental part of the scheme.”

Richard Williams, Chairman of NFU Cymru’s Poultry Group said: “Looking at the month of January for example, over the last three years on average there were 10 days where temperatures were five degrees or less. If the proposals were implemented to stop transport at this temperature, no broilers could be collected off-farm in those days. If we had a prolonged cold snap; this would have a massive effect on the food chain.

“With any policy developments government makes, it is essential they are based on the latest evidence.  We have an industry to be proud of, with world-leading standards, and that includes our current transportation requirements for all farmed livestock.”

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