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Thieves target heating oil from south Pembrokeshire church as fuel cost soar



POLICE in Saundersfoot have said they are investigating reports that heating oil has been stolen from a church

The heating oil was allegedly taken from a tank at St Issell’s Church last month.

In recent weeks police have been warning people of thieves siphoning oil to avoid paying amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Reverend Steve Brett, from St Issell’s Church, said: “It was really disappointing to discover that heating oil had been taken. It has been reported to the police and we are taking immediate steps to protect our oil tank.

“We know that times are hard for everyone at the moment, and we are no different in church.

“If it’s been taken for personal consumption, and you are desperate to heat your home, come and have a chat, and maybe we can help you find a grant to buy heating oil, or find some other help. Please don’t turn to crime.”

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys Police said: “We had two calls on Sunday, April 10, reporting the theft of oil from two properties in Valley Road, Saundersfoot.

“Officers are reminding residents to protect their heating oil supplies to prevent any theft from storage tanks. Residents can take a few simple steps to prevent being a victim of theft.”

“A 1,000 litre tank can be drained within minutes and a tank that’s not properly protected will make an easy target for thieves looking to make some extra cash,” said a spokesperson.

“Fuel thieves usually target farms during the winter nights as the extended cover of darkness gives them more opportunities to steal.

“These criminals often use a basic tube to siphon away the fuel, but more sophisticated measures, such as pumping systems, are now being reported.”

People are asked to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police by calling 101.

Farmers and rural homeowners are being targeted by oil thieves who are exploiting the surge in energy prices by selling stolen fuel on the black market

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, heating oil prices have climbed from between 60p to 70p per litre in February to around £1.30 this week.

The Countryside Alliance (CA) said fuel thieves traditionally target farms during the longer winter nights under the cover of darkness, which gives them more opportunities to get away unnoticed.

“These criminals often use just a basic tube to siphon away the fuel, but more sophisticated apparatuses – such as pumping systems – have been reported by police,” said a CA spokesman.

‘Keep tanks locked’

The NFU is reminding farmers and crofters to be extra vigilant to protect themselves against fuel theft.

“Fuel tanks should be kept locked when not in use, out of sight, and in well-lit areas,” said NFUS transport advisor Jamie Smart.

“Wherever possible, tractors should not be parked in the field. It is important to keep track of your fuel purchases and usage – dip your tanks daily so that you know if there is an unexplained loss of fuel.”

Rural insurer NFU Mutual said the average cost of a diesel theft claim was £2,120 in 2020.

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Preseli MP kicks off The Great British Spring Clean with roadside litter pick



PRESELI Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb has called for action to halt the growing quantity of litter discarded on roadside verges across Pembrokeshire. “Litter plaguing county could jeopardise Pembrokeshire’s tourism reputation”, he said.

The MP has used the start of The Great British Spring Clean 2023, which runs from 17th March to 2nd April, to draw attention to the state of the County’s green verges and hedgerows, some of which are now strewn with drink cans, coffee cups and fast-food cartons. As well as damaging the environment, the volume of litter risks undermining Pembrokeshire’s reputation as a wonderful place for tourists to visit.

Hearing direct from Pembrokeshire residents concerned about the increase in litter, Stephen Crabb MP has called on Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority to step up and take action ahead of the busy tourism season.

Stephen and his team, together with Johnston County Councillor Aled Thomas, gathered for a litter pick around Johnston on the first day of the British Spring Clean on Friday 17th March.

Commenting during the litter picking session, Stephen Crabb said, “I’m really concerned right now about the amount of litter that I am seeing. It’s the worst it’s ever been. Today, we have been picking up lots of fast-food wrappers, cigarette packets, energy drink cans and coffee cups scattered along the roadsides – it’s a real disgrace.”

He commended local efforts by groups such as the Newgale Beach Wombles and Eco Dewi and others who regularly volunteer their time to help keep our beaches and County clear of rubbish. He urged residents to think about how they are disposing their litter and encouraged people consider becoming a Litter Champion – part of the Keep Wales Tidy campaign.

He added, “Locals are raising it with me all the time at the moment and it’s a wide-spread problem across the County. People are really fed up of it. I am also concerned about the impression that it provides to tourists who visit our County for its outstanding natural beauty.”

The MP used equipment provided by one of the six Caru Cymru‘s Keep Wales Tidy community litter picking hubs across Pembrokeshire. They provide equipment free of charge to members of the community. This includes litter pickers, hoops, hi-vis vests and bin bags. The kit also contains all necessary health and safety guidance and support on competing a Litter Picking Loan Agreement and a Risk Assessment.

Stephen Crabb has also called on Welsh Government Education Minister, Jeremy Miles, to use the new Welsh curriculum to educate and help influence behaviour in young people in primary and secondary education on litter prevention.

County Councillor Aled Thomas said, “We all have a responsibility to keep our communities as clean as possible and to show our natural environment at its best. We have to be pro-active and do our bit and stop turning a blind eye to the problem that we have here in Pembrokeshire.”

In his letter to the Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, he wrote “I appreciate there is considerable pressure on the maintenance team covering Pembrokeshire but there is enormous strength of public feeling about this issue locally. Local people are being asked again to pay large increases in Council Tax; they want to see core functions delivered well.”

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Community asset bids sought for former John Nash designed Foley House



COMMUNITY groups who want to take over a Grade II-listed Georgian town house in Haverfordwest have just a few days to submit bids to Pembrokeshire County Council.

The council is proposing to dispose of the John Nash-designed Foley House via a Community Asset Transfer (CAT), and is inviting applications from the community, charitable or not-for-profit organisations who will use the asset to benefit the community, or for social aims.

The closing date for applicants submitting a business plan to is just a few days away, March 24.

Following that, it is expected any recommendations for a CAT transfer will be considered at the April meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet.

One of those in the running is Adam’s Bucketful of Hope Cancer Support Centre.

The family of Adam Evans-Thomas has been fundraising for almost 30 years for various areas of the NHS.

Adam, who died of leukaemia started the fundraising by raising £45,000 in 1993 to test 3,000 potential Bone Marrow Donors from Pembrokeshire for the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Register.

Since his death, in 2007 a High Dependency Room called the “Pembrokeshire Room” in Cardiff’s Heath Hospital was funded by his charity, and in 2009 Adam’s Bucketful of Hope Cancer Support Centre was opened.

In November 2021, the charity started looking for new premises, eventually deciding that Foley House had the space inside and out to allow the charity to expand from supporting cancer patients to supporting patients with all life-limiting conditions.

The charity approached Pembrokeshire County Council and has entered into a CAT bid for Foley House.

For any prospective bidders, Pembrokeshire County Council states there should be support within the community for the proposal and optimum use of the asset for the community should be made.

There should be both a need and demand for the proposed activities and consideration will be given as to whether or not these are being satisfactorily addressed by another organisation.

The proposal will need to demonstrate how it benefits as wide and diverse a range of local people as possible, with an inclusive approach to all members of the community.

The business plan submitted must answer a string of criteria, including the applicants being able to restore, repair and maintain the building, in keeping with the legal requirements of its Grade II listing.

All costs will be the applicant’s liability and all current illegal alterations must be rectified, the council has said.

Prospective parties are advised to contact Pembrokeshire County Council Planning Department on Haverfordwest 01437 764551.

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Wildfire preparation works inspected by Pembrokeshire Community Fire Safety Team



IN EARLY March, members of the Pembrokeshire Community Fire Safety team and Haverfordwest Station visited Carningli Mountain to oversee preparation works and a control burn, in readiness for the summer and as part of responsible land management.

Wildfire Preparation Works: PXL 20230302 120329440 2

During their first visit of the week, they saw firebreaks being cut by a remote-controlled ‘iCutter’ flail, which can cut grass, weeds, shrubs and branches.  Working in conjunction with the Carningli Graziers Association and rangers from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, areas were being prepared for prescribed burning.

On their second visit, the Graziers Association were conducting a controlled burn and were joined and assisted by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), with the prescribed area lit in a controlled manner and supervised throughout.

Carningli Group Pic
Carningli Jeremy And iCut

Every year, fire is responsible for the destruction of thousands of hectares of countryside, open space, and wildlife habitats.  From the beginning of January to mid-March alone, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS) has attended 84 grass fires.

Temperature records were shattered during 2022, with parts of Wales breaking the 40°C threshold for the first time in recorded history during a series of heatwaves.  As is often the case with hot weather, many people visited Wales’s world-renowned coastline, however this did not come without issues.  MAWWFRS attended hundreds of grassfires during this period and sadly, over half of these were reported as being deliberate.

In July last year, the popular coastal resort of Newgale was turned black as fire tore through the dry undergrowth twice, destroying 11 hectares of countryside and numerous wildlife habitats.  While extensive damage made it difficult to determine a cause, the most likely source of ignition seems to have been a discarded barbecue.

August proved to be an even busier month for MAWWFRS, with a wildlife incident near Whitesands caused by a discarded glass bottle, as well as yet another major grassfire in Newgale – this time burning 60 hectares and requiring the assistance of crews from as far afield as Brecon and Llandrindod Wells.

Burnt Landscape from Ant and Theresa

Newgale before and after the 2022 wildfires

Although the landscapes and wildlife are expected to fully recover over time, these incidents form part of a more worrying pattern of climate change, where changing conditions are aiding the spread of fires and on a far more frequent basis.

Many wildfires are preventable and there some simple steps that can be taken to avoid another summer blighted by them, these include:

  • Never use barbecues or light fires in national parks, including beaches. Apart from the fire risk, the hot coals and sharp edges of discarded barbecues pose a hazard to wildlife and people.
  • Extinguish cigarettes and other smoking material properly.
  • Clear away bottles, glasses, and any broken glass to avoid them magnifying the sun and starting a fire.
  • Explain to children the dangers of playing with and lighting fires.

MAWWFRS has recently reformed Operation Dawns Glaw, a multi-agency taskforce of specialists from key agencies across Wales who are committed to reduce, and where possible eliminate, the impact of grass fires across Wales.  More information on #DawnsGlaw can be found here.

In 2022 the fire services across Wales attended 3,269 grassfire incidents – this was an increase of 62% on the previous year, with deliberate grass fires increasing by 1,542 (47%) to 2,263.

Starting a deliberate fire is a criminal offence.  You can report a deliberate fire anonymously by calling Cymru/Wales CrimeStoppers on 0800 555111. 

In an emergency, always call 999.

PXL 20230302 120254968 2

Controlled burn on Carningli Mountain

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