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Op Waverley – illegal waste sites in the Amman Valley

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In response to a rise in the level of fly tipping offences and illegal waste sites cropping up across the Amman Valley area, where waste is being illegally dumped, and information from a Natural Resources Wales led investigation into a site in the Garnant area, Dyfed-Powys Police recently ran an operation to tackle the issue. A partnership response was required, therefore the multi-agency ‘Op Waverley’ was initiated and carried out in the Garnant, Gwaun Cae Gurwen, Brynamman and Rhosamman areas.

Carmarthenshire and Neath Port Talbot County Councils raised concerns in respect of the significant rise in sites that are not permitted or regulated operating in the Amman Valley. As they are unregulated, there are no controls in place as to the type and volume of waste being dumped. Inevitably, this illegal waste is subsequently burnt to reduce its volume and get rid of it, and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service are regularly called out to deal with these fires.  This year alone fire crews from Mid and West Wales have attended 329 deliberate refuse fires. In fact they have responded to approximately 19 incidents at one location alone in the area this year.

The majority of these incidents that the fire service responded to were reported by residents living in and around the area, who were affected by noxious smoke entering their homes and impacting upon their quality of life and health. These illegal waste sites and resultant burning also have an adverse impact on the local environment in these communities.

The operation therefore aimed to target, stop and take enforcement action against illegal waste carriers operating in the area. Ammanford Neighbourhood Policing Team and Response officers, Carmarthenshire Roads Policing officers, and South Wales Police officers set up three road check sites close to the county boundaries, where they stopped and checked any vehicle suspected to be carrying waste. This was in order to disrupt and deter illegal waste carriers heading to these sites. Carmarthenshire County Council and Neath Port Talbot County Council waste enforcement teams, along with the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service Arson Reduction Team were also present to support the action. The local authority waste enforcement teams provided drivers with advice around waste carrier licences.

As a result of this roadside operation, 45 vehicles were stopped and checked, and a number of advisory warnings were issued to carriers for minor breaches of the waste carrier legislation. The Roads Policing Unit also issued a number of Traffic Offence Reports for construction and use offences relating to the condition of the vehicles. 

Richie Vaughan-Williams, Arson Reduction Manager at Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “Waste crime continues to pose a real challenge to Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.  Every year we attend hundreds of refuse fires and we are seeing a very clear and obvious link between deliberate refuse fires, fly tipping and the operation of illegal waste sites.  Waste crime has a real adverse impact upon our communities, environment and quality of life for those affected by these illegal activities and every time we attend one of these fires it can impact upon our response in attending other life threatening emergencies. Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is determined to reduce deliberate fires and keep our communities safe.  We can only do so effectively by working collaboratively with our partners.  This operation was a great success and we are looking forward to repeating similar operations across our service area.”

David Morgan, senior waste regulation officer, for Natural Resources Wales, added:

“Natural Resources Wales takes its regulating waste sites across Wales very seriously, to maintain the safety of residents and our environment. We can not do this alone and working closely with police is integral to making sure laws around the disposal and treatment of waste are upheld.

“Before this police-led operation, we provided advice on the legalities of the handling and treating of waste. We’re now working with Dyfed-Powys Police to assess further reports of illegal waste activities.

“We have carried out an investigation at one particular site in the Garnant area looking at the types of waste that were routinely being brought into the site for disposal. The outcome of this investigation is pending.”

For further information and guidance on disposing of waste safely, legally and responsibly, visit the Fly Tipping Action Wales website: https://flytippingactionwales.org/en/advice/duty-of-care   

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Tip off leads to pensioner’s drug stash

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A BRIEFCASE full of drugs has been recovered during a raid in Swansea suburb.
Police acting on information provided by a member of the public executed a warrant in Gorseinon and recovered a large quantity of cannabis.
A man was arrested on suspicion of possession of the class B drug, with intent to supply.
A South Wales Police spokesman said: “At around 5.40pm on Wednesday, January 6, following an intelligence led operation, a 68 year-old man from Gorseinon was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply cannabis.
“He was taken to Swansea central police station for questioning. He has been released under investigation”.

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New Year – new start – for two seals released back into the wild

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Two grey seal pups have been returned to the wild for the New Year following months of RSPCA rehabilitation.

They were released at Port Eynon, Gower, Swansea, on 3 January as the sun rose – just days into 2021 – by  RSPCA animal rescue officer Ellie West and RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben – who caught the beautiful event on camera. One seal had been originally rescued from Abereiddy in Pembrokeshire – the other from Trevone in Cornwall. They were both found in distress, underweight and with injuries.

Ellie said: “This was such a lovely release – to see them both enter the sea happily where they belong with the sun rising in the distance was just glorious. It was a lovely way to start the new year.”

The seals had been transferred to the Welsh coast from RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre in Hastings the previous day and had spent the night at the RSPCA Llys Nini Branch seal unit.

“These two pups – nicknamed BB8 and Luke Skywaker – have been in the fantastic care of RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre who have given them the best rehabilitation over the past few months. It’s always fantastic to hear when they have put on the appropriate weight and can be released back into the wild,” added Ellie.

Ellie had been involved in the initial care of the seal rescued from Abereiddy Beach back in October.

“He was a weaned pup that had pretty much moulted out all his baby white lanugo coat, so he was fully weaned, but he was found quite underweight, lethargic and had the snotty face of a sickly pup,” she said. “He also had a lump on the top of his neck.

“He was reported to myself and Keith and we asked Welsh Marine Life Rescue (WMLR) to attend who very kindly collected him and cared for him for a few days until we were able to transfer him to the wildlife centre.

“Once again we want to thank WMLR for all their assistance, expertise and all their hard work this past season. We could not do what we do without them.”

At RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre the seal had the lump removed under anaesthetic by the vet team.

The second seal from Cornwall came into RSPCA care in November and weighed just 16.3kg. The seal had suffered a few small wounds and was a bit wheezy, with centre staff treating him for lungworm and administering antibiotics. When he left the centre the seal – who was named Luke Skywalker – weighed a healthy 40kg.

Before release, the seals were given identification tags in their hind flippers for ID purposes. The RSPCA often receives good feedback from sightings – and the scientific results received reveal that seals that go on from rehabilitation survive in the wild.

The RSPCA advises that if members of the public spot a seal on a beach that they think might need help, the best thing is to observe them from a distance and do not approach them.

Seals are wild animals and have a nasty bite. Never try to return a seal to water yourself, as you may put yourselves and the seal at risk by doing this. It is also advised they keep dogs away from any seal and keep them on leads on beaches that have seal colonies too.

It’s not unusual for a seal pup to be alone, as seal mums leave their pups very early on in life. So if the seal pup looks fit and healthy and shows no signs of distress, it should firstly be monitored from a safe distance for 24 hours.

If you see a pup whose mother hasn’t returned within 24 hours, is on a busy public beach, or if you think the seal may be sick or injured, please stay at a safe distance and call the RSPCA’s advice and cruelty line on 0300 1234 999. An unhealthy seal pup looks thin (but not bony) with a visible neck, like a dog.

There is more information on the RSPCA website about what to do if you see a seal or pup on the beach alone.

If you have an animal welfare concern or find an animal in distress please call 0300 1234 999.

This winter, the RSPCA expects to rescue thousands of animals from neglect, cruelty and suffering. Already this Christmas we received more than 44,000 calls to our cruelty line but the calls to our rescue line are not stopping so neither will we. To help our rescue teams continue to reach the animals who desperately need us this winter, visit www.rspca.org.uk/xmas and Join the Winter Rescue #JoinTheRescue

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Community Midwife home for Christmas after 85 day battle with COVID-19

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SHARON GEGGUS, a community midwife from Llanelli is home for the holidays after a three month battle with coronavirus.
Sharon began to feel unwell in September, experiencing shortness of breath and a high temperature.
As these symptoms persisted and her condition began to worsen, she was admitted to Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli on 16 September, with a temperature of 41°C.During her stay, she credits the support of her family and the staff at Prince Philip Hospital for helping her get through the ordeal. Speaking of her experience in hospital, Sharon says: “I was sedated for about five weeks, but I was told that the staff were playing music for me. They had contacted my family to find out what my favourite songs were, and they would play those.
“It was really hard but the hardest times I didn’t really know about – my family were the people going through it. I can’t stress how well the staff looked after me. I used the iPads provided through the hospital to keep in contact with my family and the staff would also help me phone and communicate with my family.  
“The ITU staff and the staff on Ward 9 where I went for rehabilitation were amazing. I’m a community midwife myself and I would obviously treat someone how I wanted to be treated – but they really went above and beyond.
They would sit and chat with me when I was feeling down and they made sure I was in contact with my family all the time, even letting me hang up pictures of my family on my wall.”
Sharon was clapped out of the hospital on 10 December, 85 days after being admitted. Even though she is home, the road to recovery isn’t over.
She says: “There’s still a long way to go but I’m getting there. I can get around using a walking frame and only need oxygen when I’m really moving about. It’s so nice to be home, I think you just sort of relax a bit and move around more and just feel better for being back with your family.”
Reflecting on her experience, Sharon offered this advice to others with COVID-19: “Keep in touch with your family as much as you possibly can, it’s what got me through. I wouldn’t really know what else to say, just keep positive and keep in touch with your loved ones, that’s what really helps.”
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