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Crime

Solva couple fined nearly £5,000 for unlicensed hydroelectric power scheme

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A COUPLE from Pembrokeshire, Carl Platel and Helen Platel, have been ordered to pay a combined total of almost £5,000 after diverting water from rivers to operate their unlicensed hydroelectric turbine. The Platel couple set up the hydroelectric generation scheme on their land near Bridgend, extracting water from three sources at Gilfach Orfydd and the Cwm Dimbath.

Prosecutor Jon Tarrant revealed in court that one of the water sources was aided by a homemade weir constructed from stone and waterproof tarpaulin, which raised the water level to facilitate extraction. However, such activities require a license from Natural Resources Wales (NRW), costing £375, to protect the environment and ensure the safety and viability of the hydropower scheme.

The defendants’ scheme came to the attention of NRW in 2009, leading to a warning issued in August of that year. Despite this, in 2016, an application for a license was submitted. When NRW visited the site again and discovered the turbine operating, the defendants were reminded that it should not be in operation until the application was approved. Ultimately, the application was withdrawn in August 2016.

Subsequent visits by NRW in 2017 confirmed that the turbine was still operational. During the following three visits, spanning from 2017 to August 2018, the turbine remained unused. At that time, NRW informed the defendants that they would not face legal action for the historical breaches but warned that future operation without the relevant license would result in prosecution.

In 2020, NRW visited the farm once more. Although access to the building was not possible, the audible operation of the turbine indicated that it was still active. When NRW returned on October 22 of the same year, the turbine was found to be operational once again.

Prosecutor Jon Tarrant emphasized the importance of regulating such activities, stating, “There are reasons why this is a regulated activity. The parties were aware of the requirement for a license from the outset. It’s not accepted that this was in operation for purely altruistic reasons. There was a benefit.”

While it was agreed by both parties that no environmental damage had occurred, defense lawyer Christian Jowett argued that the defendants had not financially benefited from the hydropower scheme except for the £375 license fee. Jowett highlighted that the defendants had pleaded guilty to the offenses in September 2021 at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court, but the proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) had caused significant costs and stress over the past 18 months, amounting to £61,000 in legal fees.

Jowett acknowledged the history of warnings and stated that the couple’s motivation was centered around sustainable generation. He read a statement from Mr. Platel expressing deep regret and acknowledging that their passion for the scheme had blinded them to the necessity of obtaining a license.

One of the hydroelectric power schemes is now fully licensed, while the other is awaiting approval of its license, Mr. Jowett informed the court.

During the POCA proceedings, NRW initially sought a benefit figure of £102,000 but later reduced it to £90,000, including the cost of the license fee.

For the offense of abstracting water without a license between September 10, 2019, and October 22, 2020, the defendants were each fined £200. No additional penalty was imposed for causing or permitting the obstruction or impediment of inland waters without the required license during the same period.

Recorder Richard Kember ordered each defendant to pay £2,250 in costs, in addition to a £32 surcharge.

The case serves as a reminder of the importance of adhering to licensing requirements and regulations surrounding sustainable energy projects, ensuring the protection of the environment and the safety of such initiatives.

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Crime

Couple arrested for ‘having sex’ in Haverfordwest car park

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POLICE are investigating two incidents of outraging public decency in Haverfordwest.

The first incident occurred  in Morrisons play park at about 5.45pm on Sunday May, 19.

The second incident occurred in Morrisons car park at about 3.20pm the next day.

In both incidents two people appeared to be engaging in a sexual activity whilst in public.

Police have been advised that an image of the second incident has been circulating on social media. 

A police spokesperson said: “Criminal proceedings are active in respect of this case, and we ask that the image is not shared any further.

“A 31-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman have been arrested on suspicion of ‘Outraging Public Decency’ and released on bail pending further police enquiries.

“Anyone who witnessed the incidents is asked to contact police on the following channels, quoting crime reference 24000456738.”

💬 | Direct message us on social media

🖥️ | https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline 

📧 | [email protected]

📞 | 101

“If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

“You can also get in touch anonymously with Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111, or visit crimestoppers-uk.org.

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Crime

Man found not guilty of stalking beauty salon owner

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FRANK JANIUREK, 43, of Heol Glyndwr in Fishguard, has been acquitted of stalking the owner of a beauty salon after a trial at Swansea Crown Court. The jury returned a unanimous not guilty verdict following approximately two-and-a-half hours of deliberations.

Janiurek was accused of causing serious alarm or distress to the woman between 25 March and 10 July 2022. The prosecution claimed that after receiving a facial treatment at the salon on 8 March 2022, Janiurek began sending numerous emails and making frequent calls to the salon, often repeating questions that had already been answered. He was also alleged to have walked past the salon daily and liked one of the complainant’s Instagram pictures using an account under a false name. Additionally, it was claimed that he stared at the complainant for an extended period while she was out in Cardigan celebrating her birthday.

Caitlin Brazel, prosecuting, argued that these actions constituted stalking, causing serious alarm or distress. However, Janiurek pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Matthew Murphy, defending Janiurek, contended that the complainant had not directly communicated her discomfort to the defendant until 1 June. Murphy stated, “She doesn’t tell him anything about his behaviour and the effect it’s having on her before June 1.” He argued that if the complainant felt uncomfortable, she should have been more direct in her communication.

Murphy also highlighted that the complainant’s actions, such as signing off emails with ‘All the best’ and stating she had an injured arm and was not taking on new clients, did not clearly indicate that she wanted the contact to end. He noted that Janiurek, who is neurodivergent and has Asperger’s syndrome, was primarily engaging with the business, not the complainant personally. Murphy emphasised that all of Janiurek’s messages were related to beauty treatments, except for one occasion when he inquired about the complainant’s injured arm.

Regarding the Instagram picture, Murphy pointed out that it was posted on the business’s account, not the complainant’s personal account.

Recorder David Elias KC, who presided over the trial, thanked the jury for their careful consideration of the case. Following the not guilty verdict, Janiurek was allowed to leave the dock, having been acquitted of all charges.

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Crime

Cannabis factory with over 800 plants found in west Wales drugs bust

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POLICE in Carmarthenshire made a major drugs bust this week when they found over 800 cannabis plants in what was supposed to be a vacant property.

A 26-year old man was arrested and has now been remanded into custody.

The police are appealing for information and have released photographs of the illicit cannabis production facility.

A police spokesperson told The Herald on Friday (May 24): “Dyfed Powys Police executed a warrant at the Mountain Gate, Tycroes, Ammanford on Tuesday May 21.

“The vacant property was found to have a large hydroponic set up inside, with approx. 800 cannabis plants seized by officers.

“One man, Beni Mirashi age 26, was arrested and was charged with being concerned in the production of cannabis.

“He appeared at Llanelli Magistrates Court on 23 May and was remanded to next appear at Swansea Crown Court on June 24.”

Police asked that if anyone has any information that may support officers in their investigation, they are asked to contact us either through a direct message on social media, online at: 
https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing [email protected], or by calling 101

Quoting reference: 24*459007

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