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Deep Space Radar base to be built in Brawdy, creating 100 jobs

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IN A MAJOR announcement today (Dec 2) the Defence Secretaries of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have unveiled the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) programme – and one of just three sites chosen worldwide for this hi-tech system will be in Pembrokeshire, at Brawdy. This pioneering initiative aims to significantly bolster the defence capabilities of AUKUS nations (Australia, the UK, and the US) by providing 24/7, all-weather capabilities to monitor objects as far as 36,000 kilometers away from Earth.

The Cawdor Barracks in Pembrokeshire, Wales, have been earmarked as the preferred UK site for this state-of-the-art deep space radar, subject to a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment and Town Planning approval. The DARC programme is set to transform UK security, improving our ability to detect, track, and identify objects in deep space.

As the world faces increasing threats of space warfare, this development is a timely enhancement to the defence capabilities of the AUKUS nations. The global network of three ground-based radars, to be jointly operated, will play a critical role in space-traffic management and the surveillance of satellites in deep space. The geographical positioning of the AUKUS nations allows for unparalleled global coverage, including the detection of potential threats to defence or civilian space systems.

UK Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, emphasized the importance of this initiative: “As the world becomes more contested and the danger of space warfare increases, the UK and our allies must ensure we have the advanced capabilities we need to keep our nations’ safe. Today’s announcement of a global radar network (DARC), based across the UK, US, and Australia will do just that, empowering the UK to detect, track, and identify objects in deep space.”

The selection of Cawdor Barracks, which currently houses a British Army Signals Regiment scheduled to relocate from 2028, is expected to bring significant economic benefits to the local Pembrokeshire economy. The project promises job creation during the construction phase and is projected to provide up to 100 longer-term jobs.

The DARC programme also extends beyond defence benefits. It is equipped to monitor and protect essential services that rely on space-based satellites, including communications and navigation systems crucial for daily life. This capability is vital for AUKUS’ commitment to maintaining peace and deterring conflict globally, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.

Secretary of State for Wales, David TC Davies, hailed the project: “The proposed DARC project will provide jobs and bolster the local economy, underlining the vital role that Wales continues to play in the UK’s defence.”

Stephen Crabb MP, speaking to The Herald on Friday, said: “The Cawdor Barracks site was always a strong contender for this project…The 100 new jobs would certainly be welcome but won’t fully fill the gap if the Signals Regiment does eventually move out.”

Local councillor for Brawdy, Mark Carter said that he was in favour of the development.

He said: “As long as we can confirm that there are no health implications for the local residents I am in favour of this being in Pembrokeshire.

“It will have a positive economic impact during both the construction phase and over 100 long term jobs.”

The first DARC radar site, currently under construction in Australia, is slated to be operational by 2026, with all three sites expected to be fully operational by the end of the decade.

This development follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2023 and is a key component of the UK’s Defence Space Strategy, enhancing collective space domain awareness – a critical objective for national security.

AUKUS, a landmark security and defence partnership, is set to benefit significantly from DARC, marking a significant step forward in delivering enhanced security capabilities among the partner nations and supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

However, the new American military branch, US Space Force, established by former president, Donald Trump, has been criticised as an unwise and costly escalation that could lead to a dangerous new arms race.

A spokesperson for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade said the plans were “totally misguided” and that the money would be better spent on reducing poverty.

“The huge sums of money involved would be far better spent building fairer and more equal societies here rather than further militarising space,” they said.

The stations, covering around a square kilometre, would host an array of large radar dishes, known as parabolic antenna, each 15 metres in diameter.

The US already operates an early warning system to detect ballistic missiles in space, which includes a facility at RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire. However, that can only detect objects up to 12,000 miles away while DARC would look much further into space.

Joe Mozer, chief scientist at the US Space Force, said: “We must overmatch our strategic competitors.”

Community

Appointment of new canons to St Davids Cathedral

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THE DEAN of St Davids has expressed delight that the Bishop of St Davids has appointed four new Canons for the Cathedral.

The Very Revd Dr Sarah Rowland Jones said, ‘I am so pleased to welcome the Revd Gareth Reid, the Revd Julian Smith and the Revd Marcus Zipperlen as Canons and members of Dean and Chapter, together with the Revd Richard Davies as Honorary Canon. They bring a considerable breadth and depth of long experience that will contribute greatly to the life of the Cathedral and its wider family.’

The Revd Gareth Reid is no stranger to the Cathedral. After growing up and attending university in Aberystwyth, then working with the Salvation Army in Swansea prison, he pursued theological training. Following his ordination in 2010, his first role was as Assistant Curate in the Cathedral and the wider group of churches that then formed the Rectorial Benefice of Dewisland. In 2013 he moved with his wife Abby and daughters Sophie and Elizabeth to Llandysul. ‘It is wonderful to be able to accept the invitation to renew my link with the Cathedral, now as a Canon’ said Gareth.  

The Revd Julian Smith was ordained in 1993, and has spent all his ministry in the Diocese of St Davids, in the Archdeaconry of Cardigan. For twenty-seven of those years, he has served churches in and around Llanrhystud. He and his wife Deborah, a domiciliary care worker, have three children, Daniel an organist, Nick a tuba player and waiter, and Edith a singer and dancer on the high seas! Responding to his appointment, Julian said ‘I felt honoured to be asked by the Bishop to be a Canon of St Davids Cathedral, and am very much looking forward to this new adventure.’

Originally from Bexhill on the south coast of England, the Revd Marcus Zipperlen moved to Wales nineteen years ago to work at the Centre for Alternative Technology, running their Biology Department and teaching sustainable water treatment and sanitation, following a degree in Environmental Science. Ordained in 2013, he now lives in Llangwm with his wife Polly, a nurse, and their two teenage boys, Sonny and Malachy. In their spare time he and Polly row Celtic longboats from Neyland and run occasional distance events. Marcus looks after four mostly rural parishes south of Haverfordwest, and is also the Sustainability Officer for the Diocese. ‘I feel blessed to be able to be able to weave both my “callings” together: ministry to people and caring for the Earth’ he said, adding ‘I hope these may be of benefit to the Cathedral, as I serve as a member of Chapter.’

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Charity

Thousands enjoy RNLI Lifeboat Festival at Pembroke Castle

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ON Father’s Day (Jun 16), more than 1,650 people descended on Pembroke Castle for a day of family fun at to mark 200 years of saving lives at sea for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

The medieval venue played host to the RNLI’s Lifeboat Festival and opened its gates for the public to meet local lifesavers and have fun while learning how to stay safe in the water with the RNLI Water Safety team.

Revellers enjoyed live music from Goodwick Brass Band, Henry Tudor School (Ysgol Harri Tudur) who showcased highlights from their upcoming performance of Peter Pan, Pembroke and District Male Voice Choir, shanty band Cockles and Mussels, Tenby Male Voice Choir, folk rockers Razor Bill, and Calico Jack.

The RNLI has been saving lives at sea for more than 200 years, in which time its volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved 146,452 lives – this equates to an average of two lives saved every day for 200 years.

The charity was founded in a London tavern on 4 March 1824 following an appeal from Sir William Hillary, who lived on the Isle of Man and witnessed many shipwrecks, the RNLI has continued saving lives at sea throughout the tests of its history, including tragic disasters, funding challenges and two World Wars.

Two centuries have seen vast developments in the lifeboats and kit used by the charity’s lifesavers – from the early oar-powered vessels to today’s technology-packed boats, which are now built in-house by the charity; and from the rudimentary cork lifejackets of the 1850s to the full protective kit each crew member is now issued with.

The RNLI’s lifesaving reach and remit has also developed over the course of 200 years. Today, it operates 238 lifeboat stations, including four on the River Thames, and has seasonal lifeguards on over 240 lifeguarded beaches around the UK and Ireland. It designs and builds its own lifeboats and runs domestic and international water safety programmes.

While much has changed in 200 years, two things have remained the same – the charity’s dependence on volunteers, who give their time and commitment to save others, and the voluntary contributions from the public which have funded the service for the past two centuries.

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Community

Renewed partnership safeguards access and conservation at Castlemartin

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A NEW agreement has been made to provide continued funding for a Ranger Service on the Military Ranges of South Pembrokeshire.

Senior leaders and staff from Natural Resources Wales (NRW), the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority met recently at the Castlemartin Range to renew their longstanding partnership, which ensures safe and sustainable access and recreational opportunities for the public, while safeguarding the area’s unique and rare wildlife which thrives alongside military training.

Those attending the meeting, which was hosted by Lt Col Richard Pope and Major John Poole, were able to experience this for themselves at Stack Rocks, where the colonies of razorbills and guillemots are gathering at the start of the breeding season.

Current Castlemartin Ranger, Lynne Houlston, explains: “This role is not only vital in ensuring that the area remains accessible to the public when military use allows, but also that the many rare and special plants, birds and animals of the Range are safeguarded.”

These include chough, marsh fritillary butterflies, grey seals, green winged orchids and spectacular colonies of seabirds, especially during the breeding season.

Part of Lynne’s role is to ensure that people can visit and use the Ranges for activities like climbing while ensuring that they do not disturb the nesting sites of these protected species.

Clare Pillman, Chief Executive of NRW said: “Working with our partners to ensure this role and partnership agreement continues is so important to us at Natural Resources Wales. The conservation of the many special species found at Castlemartin Range is vital to ensure their sustainability in the future. The Ranger role enables this to happen alongside allowing visitors to enjoy the beautiful landscape for recreational purposes, which has benefits for wellbeing and allows nature and people to thrive together.”

Chief Executive of the Park Authority, Tegryn Jones, said: “We are delighted to welcome the renewal of this important partnership. The Castlemartin Range offers some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in Wales, and it’s vital that we ensure this can be enjoyed by visitors in a way that protects its special wildlife. The Ranger plays a crucial role in achieving this balance, and this renewed commitment will ensure that the Castlemartin Range can continue to be a place where people and nature thrive.”

DIO Principal Environmental Manager, Richard Brooks said: “DIO is delighted to be joining NRW and PCNPA in signing the next iteration of this important partnership. Lynne has been in post for 21 years and, supported by a Seasonal Ranger, has clearly demonstrated the key benefits of this joint funded Ranger Service. The role plays a key part in the successful integration of public access, wildlife management and monitoring and military training and activity”.

Several guided walks taking in the history, wildlife and archaeology of the Castlemartin Range are planned for the summer months. To find out more and book a place, visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/events.

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