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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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Business offer Welsh Government help in ‘non-essential’ shopping row

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THIS morning (Tuesday, October 27), the Wales Retail Consortium, CBI Wales and Association of Convenience stores presented the Welsh Government joint recommendation to resolve the confusion over non-essential items.

The three industry bodies’ statement expresses the hope that the Welsh Government, ‘will agree to these recommendations and the people of Wales can refocus all their energies on respecting the Fire Break’.

The recommendations come in response to confused and confusing messaging from the Welsh Government, which allowed its public health message to be drowned out over the weekend by rows over whether toasters, Lee Childs novels, and size 16 jeans were essential items for customers. The confusion was not helped by a mistaken tweet by supermarket giant Tesco which claimed women’s period products were not essential items when they are and always have been.

The WRC, CBI Wales and ACS believe their recommendations will fulfil retail’s role in tackling the spread of the virus while allowing for discretion to be used on an individual basis – as recommended by Health Minister Vaughan Gething in a tense press conference yesterday, http://pembrokeshire-herald.com/61929/welsh-health-minister-defends-retail-restrictions/.

The business bodies recommend:

  • To limit the spread of the virus and allow for individual discretion, retailers will prominently display Welsh Government approved signage in front of known non-essential items and in communal areas. The signage will make clear the government’s regulation and the need to abide by it.
  • This message will be reinforced through in-store announcements and social media messaging. Advising customers to put off non-essential purchases
  • We recommend the individual customer is trusted to make their own decision as to whether a product is non-essential or not, taking into account the notices displayed throughout the store and their immediate needs
  • If the customer goes ahead with the purchase of the item the final liability ought to rest with the customer
  • Retailers will remove special in-store promotional displays of non-essential items in order to minimise browsing and avoid triggering a non-essential purchase.
  • These recommendations would mean non-essential items are not removed from shelves – or cordoned off in stores – but large notices are placed in front of the products and in communal spaces informing customers of the Welsh Government’s regulations and the Welsh public are trusted to make the right decision.

They also say they ‘look forward to engaging with Welsh Government again this morning and we hope consensus can be reached’.

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Llanelli Christmas Carnival goes online

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Preparations are underway to host the first ever virtual Llanelli Christmas Carnival. 

The carnival will go digital for the first time in its 42-year history due to the Covid-19 pandemic and in line with current Welsh Government guidance and increasing concerns about the spread of coronavirus linked to large gatherings. 

Whilst there won’t be the usual street parade, people will be able to get into the festive spirit from the comfort of their own home. 

The online celebration will be hosted as an event on Discover Carmarthenshire’s Facebook page on Friday, November 13. 

Over the years, thousands of people have been involved in the Llanelli Christmas Carnival – either dressing up to enter a float in the parade, volunteering, or simply enjoying the atmosphere with generations of their families. 

They can still get involved this year by sharing photos and video to help people celebrate good memories and help others reminisce about carnivals gone by. 

There will be a broadcast of music from talented local performers who would usually sing from the main stage, and people will still be able to countdown to the switch-on of the town’s Christmas lights. 

The largest Christmas carnival in Wales, Llanelli’s festive celebrations are a joint effort by Carmarthenshire County Council, Llanelli Town Council, Llanelli Rural Council and Llanelli Round Table. 

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “It’s very unfortunate that we can’t hold Llanelli Christmas Carnival this year, but we’re determined to keep the spirit of the carnival alive. Let’s come together and celebrate one of the biggest events in Wales from the comfort of our homes – celebrate with generations of memories and look forward to a bigger and better carnival next year.” 

Sign up to attend Llanelli’s first virtual Christmas carnival – visit facebook.com/discovercarmarthenshire 

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Free Community Crime Prevention Kits to be distributed in Llanelli area

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OVER the coming weeks, residents from both the Ty Isha and Glanymor areas in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, will receive free crime prevention kits that will aim to deter offenders and make both communities safer.

The prevention kits have been purchased through funding that was secured from the Home Office’s Safer Street Fund by Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn.

The funding of £195,673 that was secured by Mr Llywelyn will go towards measures proven to cut crime, and will include employing two Community Wardens; purchase of SelectaDNA kits, Community crime prevention activity support, Environmental improvements and Community Crime Prevention kits.

SelectaDNA kits and Bike register kits are two of the Community Prevention kits that will be distributed to residents within the local communities over coming weeks.

The SelectaDNA kits are property marking kits that include a unique formula of DNA, UV tracer and microdots, which people can use to mark their valuable household items, so that if stolen, police are able to trace them. 

Similarly, the bike register kits include stickers, frame markings and microdots to uniquely identify a bike.  Users can add descriptions and photos to ensure that in the event of a theft, their bicycle can be easily identified and returned by Police through the BikeRegister Scheme.

Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys said, “I am delighted that both these crime prevention kits have been purchased through the Safer Streets funding that I secured earlier this year.  Hopefully, as they are distributed over the coming weeks, we will see that they will have a positive impact within the area.  Criminals know that DNA is the police’s most powerful weapon in convicting criminals therefore the DNA fear-factor is highly understood and acts as a huge deterrent.

“I have invested significantly in the area over recent years with community grants I made available in addition to the new CCTV system that is in place across the town. These new crime prevention kits that have been purchased through the new additional Safer Streets funding will further build upon my work over recent years and I hope the residents will feel a positive difference in their communities.

Both Ty Isha and Glanymor areas are considered to be two of the most deprived areas in Carmarthenshire according to the Welsh Government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation. The funding secured will focus on tackling all acquisitive crime such as burglary, vehicle theft and robbery within the identified areas.

PCC Llywelyn added, “Ensuring the security and safety of residents is a priority of mine – everyone deserves to live safely, and free from harm. Acquisitive offences are the crimes that the public are most likely to encounter, and they are estimated to cost society billions of pounds every year. There is strong evidence that these crimes can be prevented by tactics that either remove opportunities to commit crime or act as a deterrent by increasing the chances of an offender being caught. I now look forward to continue working closely with all partners that have supported us with our bid, to tackle these crimes in both areas and to ensure that they become safer environments for community residents.”

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