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Council officers conduct visits in response to Avian Influenza incident

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Following the identification of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza  in poultry at a site near Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire and the declaration of an Influenza Protection Zone and wider Surveillance Zone surrounding the Infected Premises (by the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales), on Friday 9 September, officers from Pembrokeshire County Council’s Public Protection Division have been engaged in visiting addresses within the 3 kilometre Protection Zone around the site.

Officers are identifying locations where poultry and/or other captive birds are kept and to provide information on restrictions that currently apply to help prevent the spread of disease.

The Council’s officers are working in support of veterinary colleagues from the Animal and Plant Health Agency who are managing a co-ordinated response to the incident, in collaboration with the Welsh Government, Food Standards Agency and Public Health Wales.

A map showing the extent of the zones and restrictions that apply can be seen on the Welsh Government website at https://gov.wales/declaration-avian-influenza-protection-zone-surveillance-zone-near-milford-haven-pembrokeshire, and road signs are currently being erected by the local authority to help clarify where these zones begin and end, which will remain in place until the restrictions can be lifted.

It is vital keepers of birds remain vigilant and ensure they have the very highest levels of biosecurity in place.

Responsibilities of people who keep birds:

  • All keepers of kept birds should be vigilant for signs of the disease such as increased mortality, respiratory distress and drops in food or water intake, or egg production.
  • Consult your veterinary surgeon in the first instance if your birds are unwell.
  • If you or your vet suspect that avian influenza could be causing illness in your birds, you must, by law, report this to the Animal and Plant Health Agency Wales on 0300 303 8268. This will trigger a disease investigation by APHA vets.
  • You must apply strict biosecurity measures to prevent any materials, equipment, vehicles, clothing, feed or bedding that could have been contaminated from wild birds coming onto your premises. Further guidance is available here: biosecurity and preventing disease in captive birds.

The UK health agencies advise that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the UK food standards agencies advise that avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.

Members of the public who do not keep birds can help by reporting dead wild birds.  You should call the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 if you find:

  • One or more dead bird of prey or owl
  • Three or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese, ducks)
  • Five or more dead birds of any species

These may be collected for examination and avian influenza surveillance, depending on the species and location. It is important not to pick up or touch any sick or dead bird.

Sick or injured wild birds should not be reported to Defra. Instead contact the RSPCA (in Wales and England) on 0300 1234 999 who may be able to offer assistance.

Dead or sick birds in public places, such as beaches, can also reported by calling 01437 764551 (or out of hours 0345 601 5522) for Pembrokeshire County Council to arrange to collect safely.

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Planning approved for change of use in Tenby’s ‘drinking quarter’

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THE RESTROSPECTIVE planning applications made by Mike Evans were granted approval by national park planners.

A former national park member who changed of use of historic buildings without permission was unrepentant about making a retrospective application.

Since last July, former stables in Tenby’s Sergeant’s Lane have been rented out to be used as a seating area for the nearby Harbwr Brewery.

A planning application seeking retrospective change of use of the Grade II listed buildings and previously derelict and overgrown stable yard for the serving of food and drink, made by by Harbwr Brewery owner Mike Evans, was approved by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority planners on Wednesday, 1 February.

The application – recommended for conditional approval – was brought to the National Park’s Development Management Committee as Mr Evans was a recent member of the national park authority.

Also approved were works to the listed building roof.

At the meeting, members expressed concern about the retrospective native of the application, made by a former member of the planning committee.

Ted Lewis of nearby Rock Terrace raised concerns about potential waste and officers’ support for the retrospective application, claiming Mr Evans had shown “a complete failure” to abide by conditions imposed on a previous application.

He also referred to recent references to Sergeant Lane as being Tenby’s “drinking quarter,” adding: “I was horrified at that, if it becomes a ‘drinking quarter’ it will drive out local residents.”

Former county councillor Mr Evans, unrepentant at the retrospective nature of the application, said the area had been transformed from one of “pigeons, rats and dog [mess],” to one with five thriving businesses.

He said the development was providing “good, exciting and well-paid jobs,” adding: “At the core of everything we do is sustainability, we do nothing to harm the area and community we live in. At our own expense we clean and maintain the lane regularly.”

He described retrospective planning applications were “a legitimate route for planning,” adding it was the usage of the buildings that “has evolved,” rather than structural changes.

Tenby Civic Society has previously raised concerns about potential noise nuisance to nearby residential properties.

Until the late 1990s, many of the buildings on Sergeants Lane were used as warehousing and stores for Hermann Thomas and Co Plumbers.

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Ferry staff concerned over rumours Pembroke Dock to Rosslare route coming to an end

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CONCERNS are growing amongst Irish Ferries staff operating out of Pembroke Dock as rumours continue to circulate that the company is considering abandoning the Pembroke to Rosslare route.

Several sources state that Irish Ferries is to pull out of Wexford (Rosslare) all together.

Several newspapers in Ireland are reporting that Irish Ferries has failed to reply to queries in relation to future of Rosslare route as concern grows among employees

The company has remained tight-lipped on its plans and despite queries by various reporters to both the Irish Ferries media contact and a senior company official in Rosslare, there was no response from Irish Ferries at the time of publication.

A lot of the concern stems from the fact that customers cannot book passage on the Rosslare/Pembroke route beyond May 31st of this year. Potentially this could be related to the expiry of the company’s charter on the ship currently working the route – Blue Star 1.

The Greek passenger ferry, with capacity for 1,500 passengers, 100 freight vehicles and up to 700 cars, was chartered by Irish Ferries in March of 2021. The company has faced a number of issues with the ship and it was detained by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) as recently as December after failing a safety inspection.

It is reported that in the past couple of weeks, Irish Ferries staff members have met with senior management to express their concerns and have also reached out to their union SIPTU to put them on notice.

The lack of information being provided by the company is certainly not doing anything to quell rumours.

This is not the first time Irish Ferries has caused a stir in Rosslare. Back in December of 2018, the company announced its intention to axe its service between Rosslare Europort and France in a move that wax described as “a kick in the teeth” by locals at the time.

Since then, thankfully, fortunes at the Europort have drastically turned in a post-Brexit landscape with the port now nearly handling up to 40 sailings per week.

However, the routes operating between Rosslare and the UK have seen more mixed fortune. With Stena

Line operating a route from Rosslare to Fishguard alongside Irish Ferries’ sailing to Pembroke, there has been some debate as to whether there is the trade to sustain both routes going forward.

Stena Line’s ownership of the port in Fishguard means its likely to want to hang in there, while back in 2021, Irish Ferries only signed a 10-year deal with Pembroke Dock.

We asked Milford Haven Port Authority for their view on the ongoing speculation. A spokesperson at the Port of Milford Haven, said: “We were surprised by these press articles.

“We are unaware of the basis of them; but we can confirm that we renewed our contract with Irish Ferries in 2021 and continue to provide excellent port services to support this important UK and International trade route.”

POLITICIANS SUPPORT PEMBROKE DOCK

Calls a year ago (Feb 2022) for Wales to have one ferry port in Pembrokeshire instead of two due to declining trade following Brexit would be a “disaster” for the county, a Senedd candidate  said.

Rosslare in Ireland’s January traffic to the UK was down 49% on last January, with freight direct to the European mainland up 446%.

Glenn Carr, general manager at Rosslare Europort in Ireland, suggested closing either Pembroke Dock or Fishguard ports to compensate.

But the Liberal Democrat Senedd candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire said at the time that would be a “disaster” and called for Welsh Secretary Simon Hart to “take urgent action” to solve the situation.

“Some companies have chosen to take the sea route from Ireland to the European continent rather than going through the UK’s land bridge,” he said.

“They have done this to avoid the trading barriers which have arisen from our hard Brexit. Mr Hart and his government colleagues need to ‘step up to the plate’ and take urgent action to eliminate these trading barriers before we lose one of our precious ferry ports.”

Conservative Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb also has been calling on the UK Government to “get a grip” on the situation.

“There’s now a big fight on to retain competitiveness and win back business that seems to have been lost out of the Welsh ports since the end of the Brexit transition period,” he said.

“So the UK government needs to get a grip on working out simpler, more effective, streamlined procedures for complying with this paperwork, making it less of a headache for doing business through the Welsh ports between the Republic, the UK and the continent.”

Tina Roberts, Welsh Liberal Democrat Senedd Candidate for Preseli Pembrokeshire also said both Fishguard and Pembroke Dock are vital ferry ports to our local community and to local businesses.

“Staff at these ferries have worked very hard to provide an excellent service which also benefits tourism and local trade,” she said.

“The government needs to end its trading barriers with Ireland to avoid the catastrophe of one of these ferries closing.”

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Momentum gathers behind transformational bid for Celtic Freeport

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  • From Manufacturing Wales to Tata Steel UK, Ledwood Mechanical Engineering to RWE, Floventis to NPTC Group of Colleges, momentum is gathering behind a freeport bid that will accelerate Wales’ decarbonisation and act as a catalyst for the transformation of Wales’ industrial cluster.

OVER 100 organisations and politicians have come together to back the transformational bid for a Celtic Freeport. Supporters include global industrial giants and Welsh engineering and construction businesses, green energy developers, decarbonisation groups and trade associations, universities, colleges and local politicians.

On 24 November 2022, a public-private consortium lodged its bid for a Celtic Freeport with the UK and Welsh governments. Spanning 600 hectares of development land across sites in Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire, the bid sets out a vision to deliver an accelerated pathway for Wales’ net zero economy. It is also expected to support over 16,000 jobs and generate up to £5.5 billion of new investment.

The Celtic Freeport will accelerate significant inward investment in new manufacturing facilities to support the roll-out of floating offshore wind (FLOW) in the Celtic Sea, giving Wales global first-mover advantage in this new form of clean, reliable energy. It will also provide the backbone for a greener future, with strengthened export and supply chain opportunities based on the hydrogen economy, sustainable fuels, carbon capture, cleaner steel and low-carbon logistics.

The Celtic Freeport bid covers the ports of Milford Haven and Port Talbot and includes clean energy developments and innovation assets; fuel terminals; a power station; heavy, light and advanced engineering; and the steel industry across south west Wales.

It will create a green investment corridor, securing long-term commitments for major port infrastructure upgrades, skills development and innovation. The bid is rooted in the fair work principles and enduring trade union engagement.

The bid also proposes an ambitious skills agenda through dedicated green skills programmes that will harness the skills-base, industrial assets and education providers of today, for the jobs of tomorrow.

The Celtic Freeport Consortium comprises Associated British Ports (ABP), Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire County Council and the Port of Milford Haven. However, a huge range of organisations have been involved in the development of the proposals and spoken out in support of the bid.

“The support we have received for the Celtic Freeport proposals has been phenomenal, both prior to submission and since the bid was submitted,” explains Roger Maggs MBE, Chair of the Celtic Freeport consortium. “There has been a real appetite from across a wide range of industry sectors, as well as from education and politicians at all levels, to ensure Wales and the UK takes full advantage of the massive opportunity that exists through the generation of floating offshore wind energy in the Celtic Sea. Achieving freeport status would give the entire region an enormous boost, whether that is in achieving our net zero targets, creating high-skilled jobs, attracting new investment, developing innovative technology, supporting future skills or putting our manufacturing sector on a path to a sustainable future.”

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