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Warning of serious disruption on M4 and M5 today due to fuel prices protest

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POLICE have warned of “serious disruption” to drivers using the M4 and M5 on Monday 4 July due to a planned protest.

Protesters intend to block the Prince of Wales Bridge from 7am until 7pm as part of a nationwide campaign against rising fuel prices.

The protest is due to start at the M4 Magor services at junction 23A eastbound and the Clevedon Interchange at junction 20 of the M5 westbound.

It is also expected to cause disruption to the M48 Severn Bridge and the M32.

Drivers are being urged to avoid the area or plan alternative routes.

Bristol Airport has issued a warning urging travellers to allow extra time if heading to or from the airport.

Police said additional officers will be brought in to ensure the protest is carried out legally.

Drivers have been advised by Gwent Police to work from home where possible and avoid the area between 7am and 7pm, with protestors planning to block parts of the road between M4 Magor services, junction 23A eastbound, and Junction 20 of the M4 between those hours.

Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said: “Gwent Police, and Avon and Somerset Police, are working jointly with neighbouring police forces and partner agencies to ensure emergency and critical services continue and to reduce disruption to both road users and local communities, however we are preparing for serious disruption throughout the day.

“I would encourage drivers to reconsider their journey, consider working from home and avoid the area where possible.

“The right to protest under UK law must be balanced with the rights of the wider community who may be affected. We have additional officers and support in place on Monday to ensure the protest is carried out in accordance with the law.”

The planned protest is thought to have been organised by the Facebook group Fuel Price Stand Against Tax, and has attracted both criticism and support online.

The latest travel disruption comes following the closure of the Severn Bridge for a second consecutive weekend, as well as the Severn Tunnel rain line which will be out of use until July 10 due to essential work. Motorists will be unable to cross the M48 Severn Bridge until 6am on Monday as it is undergoing essential work for eight months.

The bridge was first shut last weekend as painstaking work to repair and replace corroded suspension cables began. Traffic on the bridge is likely to be very heavy on Monday due to the fuel protest.

Police have told protesters banners must be tightly secured to vehicles and nobody should be walking around on the bridge during the demonstration. Protesters will stay inside their vehicles or stand beside them.

An organiser said: “We will now only be doing it on the Prince of Wales Bridge. We have to keep in mind everyone’s safety and if we block the bridge totally and there is an emergency there would be hell. Yes it means only one bridge but [due to the amount of traffic caused] there will still be a massive impact.”

Two weeks ago one of the initial M4 bridge protest organisers Ashley Fowler said : “We’re all car enthusiasts and we have all been worried about fuel prices and when I saw the post about blocking the bridges we began talking about it. Then people started asking me to make an event so we could update each other.

“I made the event because I run a car club in Cardiff which I started on social media during the pandemic lockdowns to help people’s mental health. When we can we go out to car parks and just meet up and have a chat but during the pandemic we weren’t able to do it so I made the group.

“Now we can’t meet up so much again because of the cost of fuel. I know some of them can’t drive so much because they need to feed their kids. It’s serious. People are getting really depressed about it. One of the boys in the group has actually sold his car due to fuel price rises.”

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Cornerstone 4G phone mast unconditionally backed

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A NEAR 70-foot-high 4G telecommunications tower scheme in north Pembrokeshire has been unconditionally backed by county planners.

Applicant Cornerstone sought what – in planning terms – is called prior approval for the installation of a 21-metre lattice tower supporting three antennas and associated works on land at Castle Farm Villa, Llanreithan, Hayscastle.

A report for planners says the radio base station “would allow a shared rural network in this rural area of Hayscastle for two of the main operators, to provide 4G connection, which would provide a reliable and fast communications services; to facilitate significantly improved connectivity for residents, businesses and visitors to locality.”

The application was supported by local community council Brawdy.

Cornerstone, in a supporting statement, says: “To keep up with growing demand from mobile phone users we need to upgrade existing base stations or build new base stations. An upgrade can be done in a number of ways, often by redeveloping the site to enable an increase in the number of technologies, or increasing the number or height of the antennas. However, even after these upgrades, in some busy areas the demand for services can still exceed the capability of the local base stations.”

It adds: “We recognise that the growth in mobile communication has led, in some cases, to public concern about perceived health effects of mobile technology, in particular about siting masts close to local communities.

“Quite naturally, the public seeks reassurance that masts are not in any way harmful or dangerous.   We are committed to providing the latest independent peer-reviewed research findings, information, advice and guidance from national and international agencies on radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields.

“Cornerstone ensure that our radio base stations are designed and built so that the public are not exposed to radio frequency fields above the guidelines set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).  In fact, radio base stations operate at low power and emit levels of radiofrequency fields many times lower than the ICNIRP general public guidelines.”

An officer report says a site visit was carried out to assess the impact of the proposed development, considering that the siting and design of the mast and associated structures would be acceptable.

“As such, the prior approval of the local planning authority is not required,” the report concluded.

Recent plans by Cornerstone for a 20-metre-high, timber-clad telecoms tower on land opposite the National Trust car park at Trehilyn West, Trefasser, near Goodwick, were turned down by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park planners.

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Pembrokeshire stands against Israeli apartheid and Genocide

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PALESTINE solidarity groups in Pembrokeshire and West Wales are mobilising for a powerful protest in Haverfordwest, Castle Square, this Saturday 20th April at 2pm. They aim to vehemently condemn the relentless Israeli onslaught on Gaza and send a clear message to the UK government and local MPs Simon Hart and Stephen Crabb: End the complicity now! We demand an immediate ceasefire and an end to arms sales that fuel this brutal oppression.

The Nakba, or ‘catastrophe’ in Arabic, refers to the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Israeli forces, following the forcible displacement of 750,000 Palestinians (almost half the population) in 1947-49 in order to establish the state of Israel. Israel’s current assault on Gaza is an escalation of the ongoing Nakba and threatens to be the largest mass expulsion of Palestinians since 1948. The international community has an immediate responsibility to intervene to stop Israel’s ethnic cleansing today. Any delay in implementing practical measures constitutes complicity and/or participation in the ongoing Nakba.

This rally is a collective outcry against the crimes perpetrated by Israel and a rallying cry for the boycott of Israeli products.

“It’s sickeningly hypocritical that Israel strikes nations and communities first, claims victimhood when faced with resistance, and then receives unwavering support from the U.S., the UK, and Germany!” lamented one protester.

“For too long, the international community has turned a blind eye to Israel’s flagrant violations of human rights, granting it impunity while innocent lives are lost.”

“Six months of relentless violence. Six months of Israel slaughtering innocent Palestinians. Six months of Israel killing over 14,000 children! That’s an average of around 76 children a day and what has our government done? Profited from arms sales, turning a blind eye to the bloodshed,” remarked another protester.

This protest is a clarion call to all who stand for justice: It’s time to disrupt the status quo and challenge our complicit government. “We will never give up,” declared a participant. “To dismantle apartheid, we must disrupt the everyday and refuse to be complicit in Israel’s crimes against humanity!”

Join us at Castle Square at 2pm this Saturday to lend your voice to the 2 million people who suffer from a forced famine and brutal occupation in Gaza. Together, we will demand justice, accountability, and an immediate end to the bloodshed, the genocide and ethnic cleansing.

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Dragon LNG ‘monitoring’ scrap car blaze in Waterston

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A BLAZE has broken out at the Waterston Car Dismantler’s business in Waterston, Milford Haven.

Dragon LNG which is situated near the site said that the fire was not related to their operation and confirmed that the that emergency services were at the scene.

Residents living nearby have been advised to keep windows and doors closed whilst the incident is being dealt with.

“We are aware of a fire in Waterston with the emergency services present,” said a spokesperson for Dragon LNG.

“The incident is not related to Dragon LNG and Dragon Energy. We are monitoring the situation and are co-ordinating with the emergency services.”

A spokesperson for Mid & West Wales Fire & Rescue Service told The Herald: “At 11.09am on Monday, April 15th, the Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock, Narberth, Fishguard, Carmarthen, Tenby and Haverfordwest crews were called to an incident at a commercial premises in the Waterston Industrial Estate, Milford Haven.

“Crews responded to approximately 150 vehicles on fire, at the height of the incident, 12 fire appliances were in attendance.  Crews utilised six breathing apparatus sets, nine hose reel jets, two ground monitors and approximately 1,000 litres of foam to extinguish the fire.

“Properties in close proximity to the fire were evacuated and nearby roads were closed.  The incident required a multi-agency response, with Dyfed-Powys Police, the Ambulance Service and the Local Authority also in attendance.

“Crews began to leave the scene at 2.11pm.

“Please be advised that as a precaution:

“If you are in an area still affected by smoke, you are advised to stay indoors, close windows and doors, and turn off any air conditioning or ventilation units.

“Motorists who must travel through areas still affected by smoke should keep windows closed, turn off air conditioning and keep air vents closed.”

(Images: M Cavaney/Herald)

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