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Ferries cancelled as freight down 70% at Fishguard following Covid travel restrictions and Brexit

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THE LARGEST Irish Sea ferry operator has cancelled 12 sailings over the coming five days due to travel restrictions, a post-Brexit decline in freight volumes and problems in supply chains.

Stena Line has reduced its Dublin-Holyhead and Rosslare–Fishguard schedules, saying that problems caused by new customs and regulatory checks have significantly reduced freight traffic.

Trade volumes have fallen significantly since the UK’s departure from the EU came into effect on January 1st as importers struggle with the customs, regulatory and agricultural border controls applied to all goods arriving into Irish ports from Britain in the past week.

Eight sailings between Rosslare and Fishguard and four sailings between Dublin and Holyhead have been cancelled between Friday night and Tuesday morning.

These mostly off-peak sailings, including late-night departures, are not regarded as viable currently given the low freight volumes and the restrictions on passengers who must produce a negative Covid-19 test on their arrival into Irish ports from Saturday.

Stena said that freight volumes are slowly starting to creep back up and that it was keeping a close eye on the figures..

It is currently reviewing schedules and may reduce some crossings on a temporary basis.

A spokesperson for the company said: “Our freight volumes are currently down approximately 70% on the same time last year, which is also the position at Holyhead Port.”

“To a certain degree this has been expected given the volume of stock piling which occurred prior to Christmas.

“Freight volumes have slowly started to return this week and we are monitoring developments closely.

“In addition to the fall off in freight volumes, with the Irish Government imposing virtually a complete travel ban resulting in almost no passengers travelling, we are currently reviewing our sailings and schedules and may reduce some sailings on a temporary basis during this unprecedented time.”

Mid and West Wales MS, Eluned Morgan also voiced concerns. She met with local management of Stena Line and Irish Ferries before Christmas.

“January is quieter time for ferry services but as we know, commercial freight sustains these important links all year round,” said Eluned.

“This is the first time that an operator like Stena has admitted the very real impacts of Brexit has forced them to cut services.

“Huge quantities of trade is now bypassing Fishguard and Pembroke because it is easier to meet deadlines by avoiding Britain altogether. The Tories hailed Brexit as a way of cutting red tape, instead it has created barriers, more paperwork and economic uncertainty.

“Regardless of the views of some Brexiteers, our ports are important gateways to Europe. For Wales, Pembrokeshire must remain a gateway to Europe for trade, tourism and all of the jobs linked to these ports.”

Jackie Jones, Labour MS candidate for Preseli Pembrokeshire, who was also one of the last members of the European Parliament added:

“This is a very disappointing announcement and one that does not need to be repeated. Daily ferry services have operated between Fishguard and Rosslare for the last 115 years, through pandemics, wars and great economic uncertainty.

“We must not allow Brexit to take this important transport link which has put Fishguard on the map to disappear.”

There has been no word yet from Irish Ferries, who operate from Pembroke Dock on the impact of Brexit, so far the firm has decided to to comment.

Earlier this week local councillors expressed their concern over the future of Fishguard Harbour, which employs 150 people, with Cllr Pat Davies saying that there was “real concern in the community.”

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Appeal after woman sexually assaulted on cycle path near Haverfordwest

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POLICE officers in Haverfordwest are appealing for witnesses after a woman was sexually assaulted at approximately 4.30pm on Sunday (May 16).

The woman was walking along the cycle path between Haverfordwest and Tiers Cross when she was approached by a man who threatened and assaulted her, before walking away towards Haverfordwest town.

The male is described as a white male, between 5ft 4 and 5ft 11 tall , normal build with a welsh accent. He has short dark hair, a beard and a moustache, brown eyes, and wearing light blue jeans, navy/dark blue jersey with grey sleeves. Anyone who saw a man matching this description in the area between 3.30pm and 5pm in the afternoon.

A 35-year-old man has been arrested and is currently in police custody.

The cycle path is currently closed while the investigation continues.

Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, who is leading the investigation, said “Incidents of this nature are extremely rare in the Dyfed-Powys area. The public may see an increased presence of police officers in the coming days as police investigate the incident. Anyone with concerns or information that could help our enquiries can speak to those officers or contact police. While a man was quickly arrested we would still like to speak to anyone who saw a man matching the above description in the area yesterday afternoon.”

Anyone with information which could help the investigation is asked to contact police. This can be done online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet endorses STEP Fusion application

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Cabinet have today endorsed proposals from Cllr Paul Miller (Cabinet Member for Economic Development) to further progress the nomination of a Pembrokeshire site to host a Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) fusion power station in the county.

Working with the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the proposed site is adjacent to the existing energy facilities on the South Shore of the Haven waterway.

If approved, the facility will initially host research with the ultimate aim of developing this technology which could offer a virtually limitless source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economic Development said: “I am pleased my Cabinet colleagues endorsed this important programme of work. The Haven Waterway has provided livelihoods, underpinned by fossil fuels, for thousands of Pembrokeshire families, mine included, for more than 50 years. It’s my job to help ensure the waterway continues to provide high skilled, engineering, science and technology jobs for the next generation of this county – and so linked to our focus on climate change (and in addition to our existing multi-million pound commitments to supporting wind, wave and tidal clean power generation) my team have been exploring whether we can also support the development of clean, green fusion technology.

“It’s very early days in the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s site selection process but we’ll provide regular updates as things progress.”

•       STEP is an ambitious programme to design and build a prototype fusion power plant;
•       It is a UKAEA programme, currently with £222m funding from the UK Government to produce a concept design by 2024: https://step.ukaea.uk/

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Re-opening of indoor hospitality and attractions at Milford Waterfront

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RESTAURANTS and indoor visitor attractions in Milford Waterfront are welcoming the return of indoor services from today.

The re-opening of indoor dining allows all restaurants at Milford Waterfront to seat customers indoors. As well as all restaurants on the Waterfront now being able to offer this service, the brand-new Foam Domes overlooking the Milford Haven Waterway are able to open, with bookings being taken from the 19th May.

Indoor visitor attractions are also allowed to re-open. This includes the Waterfront Gallery, which is open today and Phoenix Bowl & Pirate Pete’s Adventure Play which is making preparations to open from Wednesday 19th May. Also, Milford Museum, which has had a new rendered exterior finish, is preparing to open for the end of May.

Lucy Wonnacott, Marketing Manager for Milford Waterfront commented: “We are delighted to see the re-opening of indoor hospitality and visitor attractions here at Milford Waterfront. Each business has their own safety and social distancing measures in place and we kindly ask that you respect and adhere to these for your own safety, and that of others. We hope you enjoy your visit to Milford Waterfront and stay safe!”

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