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Public to be consulted on the issue of temporary campsites within the National Park

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PEMBROKESHIRE Coast National Park Authority will soon be gathering views from members of the public on the impact of caravan and campsites in the National Park.

In a National Park Authority meeting on 1 May 2024, Authority Members approved a proposal to consult with the public on a range of proposed options to control caravan and campsites. The consultation does not cover existing sites with planning permission, but focuses on temporary sites operating under what are known as permitted development rights.

Feedback from the consultation will help to inform how the Authority considers permitted development rights in the future, with a number of options currently being considered.

The Authority’s preferred option is the introduction of an Article 4 Direction, which would mean operators of temporary 28-day campsites within the National Park would require planning permission.

The second preferred option is to introduce a voluntary code of conduct for exempted organisations, which currently have the right to run or approve caravan and campsites without the need for planning permission or a licence.

At present, there are 7,500 pitches within the boundaries of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, either with planning permission or operating under an exemption certificate. There is also a significant number of what are now popularly termed ‘pop-up’ camping sites, operating under the 28 Day Rule.

Concerns have been raised in recent years however, due to increasing numbers of operators not adhering to the 28-day permitted development rights, with many temporary campsites operating for a much longer period of time, which can be up to 6 months of the year.

Sara Morris, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Director of Placemaking, said: “While these forms of development have contributed greatly to the number of camping and caravan pitches in the National Park, it has also given rise to campsites coming into existence without the degree of scrutiny or public consultation given to sites going through the official planning application process.

“As well as putting a strain on the Authority’s ability to fulfil its main statutory purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and heritage of the National Park, the current situation is also undermining our ability to properly plan for the area and pursue a strategy of regenerative tourism.”

The National Park Authority commissioned a study in 2015 to examine what capacity there is to accommodate more sites within the National Park without harm to the landscape. The conclusion was that there is only very limited capacity in some locations, while others are already at capacity.

In addition to this, informal workshops conducted with statutory undertakers in late 2023 highlighted concerns around potential impacts on water quality and capacity as well as these landscape concerns.

The consultation, which will be launched in late May, will run until 5pm Friday 20 September 2024 and will be made available at www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/get-involved/public-consultations/ upon launch.

Following public feedback, Members will consider the next steps required. If an Article 4 Direction is chosen as a preferred option, then a formal notice regarding this process will be issued in October 2024 with the opportunity for formal responses to be made to the Authority over a three month period. The potential introduction of any such Article 4 Direction would then take place in Autumn 2025.

Community

Protestors rally against closure of Pembrokeshire adult day care centres

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CAMPAIGNERS demonstrating against the closure of council-run adult day care centres in Pembrokeshire have accused the local authority of “putting pounds before people”.

A demonstration was held outside County Hall in Haverfordwest, urging Pembrokeshire County Council to reconsider the proposed cutbacks affecting the Anchorage centre in Pembroke Dock, the Lee Davies Day centre in Narberth, and the Bro Preseli Day centre in Crymych.

The protest drew users of the centres and their families, many of whom voiced concerns over the impact of potential closures. Among the demonstrators was Georgina Knowles from Templeton, whose daughter Sapphire, 28, attends the Bro Preseli centre.

“She loves it there,” Ms. Knowles said. “It’s brilliant and the only centre in Pembrokeshire suitable for her, with all the equipment and qualified staff that she needs. They’ve told us it’s going to be open until April, and they’re talking about a social enterprise taking it over, but we’re keen on seeing the council continue to run it. Please don’t close it down. We’ve been very stressed.”

Pete Welsh, 73, from Pembroke Dock, whose daughter Abi, 32, has been attending the Anchorage centre for 14 years, echoed these sentiments. “Living with somebody with additional learning needs is a 24/7 job,” he said. “So it’s both a lifeline and a form of respite for us as well.”

Mr. Welsh criticised the council, claiming it was “putting pounds before people, not least vulnerable people at that who can’t speak up for themselves”. He called for the authority to reverse its decision, alleging there had been no consultation with families and service users.

Kate Scourfield, who introduced the petition to maintain day centres at the Lee Davies centre in Narberth and Crymych, expressed her “grave reservations” about possible alternative service delivery models being considered.

In response, Tessa Hodgson, the council’s cabinet member for social care, assured that no changes would be made to adult day care centres until September, when the cabinet meets to discuss the issue. She highlighted that the Anchorage centre was in a poor state of repair, requiring maintenance work totalling £370,000.

Ms. Hodgson explained that the decision to opt for a 12.5% council tax rise, rather than a 16.3% rise, necessitated savings. She noted that numbers using the Anchorage centre had declined from 35 to 22 since the Covid pandemic, and the authority was striving to maintain frontline services amidst a “dire financial picture”.

She further added that additional funding had been secured to keep the Lee Davies centre in Narberth open until next spring, while discussions were ongoing about the potential takeover of the Bro Preseli centre by a social enterprise. No final decisions will be made about the three centres until the matter is reviewed by the cabinet in December.

Council Leader Jon Harvey acknowledged the tough choices facing the authority, citing a funding gap of £32.3m for the current financial year (2024-5).

Ms. Hodgson was not available for an interview, and the council has been asked to comment on the matter.

More than 3,000 people have signed online petitions calling for services to be retained at the three sites, underscoring the community’s determination to safeguard these essential facilities.

(Cover image: BBC Wales)

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Community

Get the most from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park this summer

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FROM local craft markets to artist-led workshops, bat walks and a planetarium session, residents and visitors can look forward to a delightful variety of ways to enjoy Britain’s only truly coastal National Park this summer.

Situated just a stone’s throw away from St Davids Cathedral and stunning beaches, Oriel y Parc National Park Discovery Centre is the perfect starting point for any summer holiday adventure. Free to enter, it offers a wealth of information on where to find your best experiences in the National Park – along with the chance to hire an e-bike and explore the picturesque but hilly St Davids countryside with the aid of an electric motor. The Centre is also home to Amgueddfa Cymru in Pembrokeshire and features a changing programme of exhibitions, along with a packed schedule of activities and events throughout the school holidays.

The main exhibition during this period will be Courage and Community – RNLI 200, celebrating 200 years of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution saving lives at sea. As well as plenty of exhibition games and activities for the whole family, Courage and Community also features an Arancia-class inshore rescue craft and some RNLI equipment to offer a taste of a rescue at sea.

For an extra charge, younger visitors can participate in a Legends of the Sea Trail, where they’ll become a member of the RNLI crew and complete the missions on the islands and sea around Oriel y Parc to rescue those in danger and earn a reward.

Discover a unique array of handmade crafts at Oriel y Parc’s Summer Craft Market on Saturday 10 August between 10am and 3pm, or at one of the Handmade Craft Fairs, hosted by Makers Bizarre. The Handmade Craft Fairs will take place in the courtyard every Tuesday, from 23 July to 27 August, between 10.30am and 4.30pm. Perfect for adding a touch of local charm to your home or finding one-of-a-kind gifts, entry to all markets is free.

Wednesday Club! sessions will run throughout the summer holidays, offering a wide variety of art and craft activities for creative young minds.

The first is scheduled for Wednesday 24 July, with a drop-in Make your own Sea Trinket Workshop between 10am-3am. The next four sessions will be led by local artists and include: Ocean Navigation Chart Making with Hannah Rounding on 31 July; a Stars & Story Stones Workshop with Kerry Curson on 7 August; Fantastical Boat Collages with Kate Evans on 14 August; and a Beach finds – Drawing and Mark Making session with Kate Freeman on 21 August.

All artist-led Wednesday Club! sessions take place between 11am – 12pm and 1.30pm – 2.30pm and booking is essential.

The final Wednesday Club! workshop of the holidays will be a Seaweed Printing Workshop. This is a drop-in event and booking is not required.

Further information about Oriel y Parc’s exhibitions, summer activities and e-bike rentals can be found at www.orielyparc.co.uk.

There will be plenty of opportunities to learn about different areas and aspects of the National Park through the Authority’s exciting programme of summer events.

Tickets are still available for three Ranger-led walks through the spectacular Preseli Hills, taking in the history, legends and wildlife of this magical landscape.

The Craig Talfynydd Walk to the heart of the Preseli Hills will take place on Wednesday 24 July and Tuesday 13 August, and there are still places to join the Carningli Circular on Friday 23 August. Anyone interested in ancient history should consider joining the Foel Drygarn Walk, which takes place on Friday 9 August and Tuesday 27 August and visits one of the best archaeological sites in the Park.

Some fabulous historical walks with knowledgeable guides are also scheduled for the summer, providing opportunities to learn more about your favourite places – or discover new ones. A Nevern – Castles and Pilgrims walk will take place on Friday 16 August, while on Friday 30 August, the Porthgain, One Village, Three Industries walk offers the chance to explore one of Pembrokeshire’s most iconic stretches of coastline.

The Park Authority’s popular Bat Walks will continue at various locations throughout July and August, which is generally the best time of year to observe these fascinating nocturnal creatures. The availability of bat detectors is guaranteed to make this a memorable experience.

At Manorbier’s Giraldus Centre, visitors will be able to enjoy a unique opportunity to explore the night sky in the middle of the day on 10 and 11 August. Several Planetarium Shows are scheduled over the two days in a state-of-the-art, high-resolution 360° planetarium. Those attending will be able to embark on a virtual journey through the solar system, land on other worlds, fly through Saturn’s rings, and marvel at Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Each 45-minute show features expert commentary and is suitable for visitors aged 5 and up.

Please note that booking is essential for all walks and activities around the Park. Further information is available at www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/events.

Angharad, the Park Authority’s Summer Ranger will also be out and about throughout the holidays, with plenty of advice and information about places to visit and things to do. If you’re looking for some activities for the children this summer, Angharad will also be delivering some family favourites such as rock pooling and bug hunt sessions. Why not stop and say hello?

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Community

Children of Herbrandston delighted at fabulous new playpark

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THE CHILDREN of Herbrandston say they are delighted with a new playpark that has been kindly funded by South Hook LNG.

At an official opening of the excellent facility on Thursday (July 19) Hamad Al Samra, General Manager, who cut the ribbon, said: “Our support for our community spreads throughout Pembrokeshire, and we are pleased to be able to assist varied projects and groups that bring enormous benefit to local People.

This particular project in Herbrandston is about supporting our closest neighbours – a community that we have lived alongside for the past fifteen years, and in which many of our People at South Hook, live with their families.

We are pleased to have worked with the Community Council in providing the Village with a Playpark that will benefit the entire community for years to come.”

Martin McGeown was on hand with one of his ice cream vans to ensure that everyone had a treat on what was a lovely sunny day, and the Herbrandston Playpark Committee supplied tea and coffee, refreshments and scones to those gathered who included both adults and children living in the village, staff members from South Hook LNG and members of the press.

Photos by Martin Cavaney

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