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Opposition to hydro-power scheme grows

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Llyn Brianne: The iconic slipway

Llyn Brianne: The iconic slipway

A PROPOSED hydro-electric power plant (Infinis Hydro River Tywi) along the banks of the River Tywi at Ystradffin has drawn strong opposition from Carmarthenshire Anglers.

Mike Davies the secretary of Carmarthenshire Fishermen’s Federation told The Herald: “Planning has not been approved but the developers (Ellergreen Hyrdro Limited) have already held a consultation up in Rhandirmwyn about the scheme.”

The developers’ scheme involved building a weir about 3km below the dam to extract water. That water will be piped around the Dinas RSPB bird reserve and will enter the river again further down. Mike Davies explained: “They are bypassing a very important part of the river Tywi. It is a very important part of the Tywi called Craigiau Tywi where the river pours over rocks and boulders and oxygenates the water. That oxygenated water is important for other aquatic life and other wildlife.”

Mike explained the dangers the scheme represents: “The water that comes from the dam comes from its bottom and is not oxygenated. Any water from that plant would be harmful to the environment. If water is released from the top of the dam, oxygenation would not be a problem.

“The proposed pipe bypasses a junction pool. The fish rely on the Pysgotor and the Doethie and the must have the right pressure to progress up the river. Llyn Brianne Dam has blocked natural and historic spawning grounds upstream and the fish now rely heavily on the spawning grounds in the area where it is proposed to locate the plant. The environmental damage it causes will be far greater than any environmental benefits.”

Mike continued: “The dam itself already produces 4.5mw of electricity and any increase in electricity created by a further hydro-electric facility would produce relatively small increases in supply. The Tywi is one of the major trout and salmon rivers in Europe. It will be a disaster for Carmarthenshire if they interfere with the river for just a modest scheme.”

Concentrating on the threat to Carmarthenshire’s wish to re-invent itself as a tourism destination to rival those elsewhere in Wales, Mike told The Herald: “Lots of people come to Carmarthenshire to fish the river and stay in the hotels; they create work for people. It would be very short sighted if Carmarthenshire County Council allows this to go ahead.

“A scheme like this was submitted a few years ago and it was turned down. It seems like this is just the same thing, reheated to have another crack at the planners. The public won’t benefit from this. It will go into the pockets of the shareholders. If this happens here, there is nothing to stop it happening all along the Tywi. The river is struggling now. It is a gem the people of Carmarthenshire should be protecting. And that includes county councillors.”

Expressing frustration at Natural Resources Wales and their supine approach to the development, Mike Davies told us: “NRW are there to protect the environment and they should not allow this to go through. They have a fisheries department and they should be objecting to this.”

Towy Valley Farm, across which the river flows, is on the market for £2.65m. The vendor’s agents, Edward H Perkins, have included details of the hydro electro plant in their brochure.

Under a heading ‘Renewables – Hydroelectricity Scheme’, the brochure claims: ‘The vendors have made significant investigations and commitment to a 2 MW Hydro scheme. Water extracted from the River Towy at the head of the river just below the Brianne Dam.

‘Investigations in relation to water abstraction and ecology have been ongoing and discussed with Natural Resource Wales (NRW) since 2011. The proposed weir at the abstraction point sits on Towy Valley Farm land, the bed of the river and the western bank. Therefore there are 3 legal interests to secure to implement the scheme. The pipe and turbine house are proposed to be located on Towy Valley Farm only.

‘Application for the abstraction licence has been made (in the name of G L Jones – Vendor) and approved. (The confirmation on the final amount of water to be abstracted has not been confirmed due to NRW regime changes in relation to Hydro projects in Wales).

‘Estimated output is 2MW based on the amount of water requested in the abstraction licence. Grid Connection secured and paid for by HED developers. Planning application is understood to be prepared by HED developers and can be submitted following confirmation of legal documentation.

‘Lease Term – 40 years Current rental arrangement proposed Years 1 to 10 – the greater of £50,000 per year or 4% of gross revenue. Years 11 to 18 – the greater of £50,000 per year or 6% of gross revenue. Years 19 to 40 – the greater of £50,000 per year or 7% of gross revenue. Further information is available from the vendor’s agent.’

The terms of the lease suggest that the vendor is seeking to realise a MINIMUM of £2m over the term of a forty year lease as a minimum from any purchaser. The share of the gross revenue for the project for any purchaser appears to indicate that, despite the farm’s considerable livestock holding and acreage, the main product of the establishment is intended to be electricity supply to the National Grid.

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Antisocial behaviour falls as police operation continues

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POLICE said that they saw a reduction in antisocial behaviour involving young people in Carmarthenshire over the weekend, following weeks of increased activity.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers proactively patrolled areas which have recently become hot spots for teenagers to gather and drink alcohol as part of an ongoing operation.

A police presence was also maintained on trains between Llanelli and Carmarthen to identify how many youngsters were travelling in the area and where they were getting off.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “Over the weekend we continued our work to target, deter and deal with antisocial behaviour and underage drinking in hot spots identified primarily in Llanelli and Burry Port.

“Section 34 dispersal orders had been put in place ahead of the weekend, meaning we could move on anyone likely to cause antisocial behaviour, but thankfully they were not required. This is an improvement on previous weekends when we have had to exercise these powers.

“A significant number of young people were spoken to, with the vast majority being pleasant, not under the influence of alcohol, and not causing any trouble.

“Members of the public acknowledged the high police presence, as did the young people, and this might have deterred underage drinking.

“We are very pleased to have seen the change in attitudes and behaviour this weekend.”

The force received just one call reporting youngsters gathering at Burry Port harbour, with no offences or antisocial behaviour identified by attending officers.

Of the young people spoken two over the weekend, two were found with alcohol which was seized. Follow-up antisocial behaviour letters will be issued, and home visits will take place shortly.

Groups were also reminded of the dangers of swimming near the harbour and were encouraged to take their rubbish home.

Officers on the rail network removed one drunk adult from a train.

Sgt Davies said: “I would like to thank all officers involved in the operation over the weekend, as well as the young people who made sure they stayed within the law while enjoying the weather.

“We will be out and about again next weekend and throughout the summer, making sure the area is enjoyable for all who visit.”

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Lord Lieutenant visits Mass Vaccination Centre

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Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sarah Edwards, has paid tribute to all those involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme during a visit to the Y Ffwrness Mass Vaccination Centre in Llanelli.

During the visit on Wednesday 9th June she was joined by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr.Jonathan Gravell. They met and spoke to the centre’s vaccinators, NHS staff, security staff and volunteers.

To date, the collective efforts of mass vaccination centres, GP practices and community pharmacies in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, have resulted in the Hywel Dda University Health Board delivering over 431,850 vaccinations. This means 266,785 of the eligible population have now received a first vaccine, and 165,056 have received both doses.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed said: “It was wonderful to see first-hand the incredible work being undertaken by the vaccinators, NHS staff and volunteers. They have played a crucial role in the success of the vaccine rollout programme. I would also pay tribute to the public for their overwhelmingly positive response to getting vaccinated.”

Maria Battle, Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board, added: “On behalf of the health board, I was delighted to welcome Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sara Edwards, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr Jonathan Gravell. I am deeply proud of everyone involved in the vaccination programme and I’m glad they got to see for themselves the incredibly work being undertaken to help get us through this pandemic.”

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Alcohol seized and teenager arrested as police deal with antisocial behaviour

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POLICE seized large amounts of alcohol and arrested a teenager as they continued to deal with antisocial behaviour over the weekend.

Dyfed-Powys Police had proactive plans in place to deal with ongoing issues of groups of youngsters gathering in Carmarthenshire following rising reports of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour over the past two months.

Dispersal orders were in place across Llanelli and Burry Port, giving police the powers to move anyone believed to be causing a nuisance, harassment or distress out of the area.

Officers patrolling the rail network in Carmarthenshire on Saturday noticed a large amount of young people getting off the train at Ferryside, where an additional dispersal order was put in place and alcohol was seized.

Officers were also required to deal with children trespassing on the railway tracks.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “We had received reports of children with alcohol running across the tracks, which posed a huge danger to themselves and others, and had to be stopped as a priority.

“One boy who was detained became abusive towards officers and could not be reasoned with. Officers had no choice but to arrest him for his own safety and to prevent further offences from being committed.

“This incident goes to show that the kind of behaviour we are dealing with goes beyond groups of young people meeting to have a good time, and is putting people in highly dangerous situations.”

A 17-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of trespassing on the railway and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He has been released under investigation pending further enquiries by British Transport Police.

Early intervention was taken in the Trostre area of Llanelli, where officers noticed groups of children meeting on Saturday.

Sgt Davies said: “More than 60 young people were moved on from both locations and a large amount of alcohol was seized.

“Out of these groups, four notices were issued to those causing the most trouble in the Trostre area which prevented them from returning, and each of these youngsters were taken home.

“This swift action was a deterrent to other young people who were planning on joining the groups and were still travelling to the area.”

“We will continue to put plans in place each weekend and over the summer holidays to deal with antisocial behaviour, using all powers available to us to put a stop to it.”

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