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Stack Rock ‘break-in’ raises LNG safety concerns

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The owner of one of the Milford Haven waterway’s most well known landmarks has raised concerns that a suspected break-in at his island fortress means that the LNG jetty may not be as well protected as once first thought.

On August 19 owner Gary Phillips says he was shocked to hear from a friend who happened to be sailing past Stack Rock on Saturday that the door was open and appeared to be damaged. The doors were secured with industrial grade padlocks.
Gary Philips told the Herald: “It seems incredible that this could have happened, as sites near the LNG jetty are protected 24 hours a day by MI5 and the police. Whenever I visit the fort in my boat, special force police are right there in minutes asking my what I am doing.”
“I called the police but was refused contact details for the LNG marine protection squad both at Milford police station and at Carmarthen HQ. I was contacted later and told that the police had carried out an inspection of the fort” he continued.
“The officer told me that because of the rusty condition of the door fittings the wind must have forced it open; but that didn’t sound right so I went to the fort this morning to see for myself. There was an industrial grade lock and hasp. The door is still on its hinges and there is evidence that the lock has taken a hammering and the hasp has been hacksawed in two. Whoever broke in must have had the right kit for the job with them and made a hell of a noise – the place was locked up like a fortress. I just don’t understand how it could happen right under their noses” he said.
Gary Philips slammed the lack of police action: “What concerns me is the police put it down to wind after a site inspection. If that’s the quality of their investigative powers, then they’re in serious need of retraining. These LNG sites pose a real risk if anyone attacks them.”
A email was forwarded to The Herald from investigating officer Mike Brown. It read: “The metal clasp and one of the padlocks had broken off, I could see no other signs of forced entry, tool marks etc, and it is my opinion that this damage was a result of years and years of corrosion on the metal which finally gave way, potentially in recent high winds
Police spokesman Antony Topazio said “Following the report of an incident at Stack Rock Fort, which was reported to police on August 20, Dyfed-Powys Police attended the facility and no further action will be taken.”
Gary Philips concluded: “You can see clearly from the photos that the lock has been hacked or ground off”. He has owned the fort for eight years having purchased it for £150,000.
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Deal not yet finalised to scrap Cleddau Bridge tolls

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THE DEAL to scrap tolls for crossing the Cleddau Bridge has not yet been finalised, as councillors heard the latest Welsh Government offer did not satisfy concerns about maintenance costs.
Cars are currently charged 75p each way to cross the A477 bridge, which opened in 1975, linking Pembroke Dock with Burton Ferry. Horses and motorbikes are charged 35p, whilst vehicles weighing more than two tonnes and coaches with more than 15 seats must pay £1.50 to cross. On October 31, Pembrokeshire County Council announced an in-principal agreement has been reached with Welsh Government to abolish the Cleddau Bridge tolls from April 2019. Earlier this month, the Welsh Government said that payments of £3 million a year to cover maintenance costs and lost income from the tolls had been offered to Pembrokeshire County Council.
The Authority’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Councillor Paul Miller, told members at a full council meeting last Thursday (Dec 13): “This is a negotiation and while we are very close, I believe, to reaching agreement with Welsh Government but we are not yet there.”
Cllr Miller also answered Conservative councillor Rob Summons, that should they face a “financial package that does not future proof the bridge maintenance and ongoing costs, PCC will continue to collect tolls”.
The Government has previously said that it would not authorise the stretch of the A477 becoming a trunk road, which would make the Government responsible for maintenance. The council ultimately agreed to give the cabinet and senior officers the power to finalise a deal which satisfies future maintenance and replacement needs.

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Injured seal is 50th rescued this year by RSPCA

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A SEAL with a severe eye injury is the 50th rescued by the RSPCA in the south west and west Wales region this season.

RSPCA Cymru was alerted after the lethargic seal was spotted struggling to move on Aberystwyth beach on Saturday (Dec 8).

The seal was stranded on a busy area of the beach, and was safely moved by experienced seal handlers before being collected by the RSPCA.

Fortunately, the seal is responding well to treatment and is currently being cared for at RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Taunton.

The seal’s eye is not missing as first thought – but the eyeball has sunken very far back into the eye socket. Her body condition is thin, and she has a severe mouth infection.

She has been nicknamed Platypus – after a drive at the centre to name all incoming seals after non-native species of mammals.

Ellie West, RSPCA animal collection officer, said: “This poor, sweet-natured seal was in a bad way, with a nasty, damaged eye. Fortunately, she is now in our care and we hope will be safely returned to the wild in the future.

“It is unusual to deal with wildlife where we are able to remove an eye and then release them to the wild – but this is possible; and we do have evidence that seals can do well even when this is the case.

“Our team in Taunton will work hard to rehabilitate Platypus and hopefully secure another happy ending for the RSPCA and wild animals in need.”

Platypus’ rescue is the latest in another “very busy seal season” for the RSPCA in south west and west Wales.

ACO West added: “Platypus marks the fiftieth seal to be rescued by us in the South West and West of Wales this season.

“Last season, Ophelia and Brian storms meant we had to rescue more than 100 – and though the number is likely to be a little lower this time around; it has still been another very busy seal season and a huge test for our officers in this part of the UK.

“RSPCA Cymru is here to help, and we always remind anyone who sees a pup whose mother hasn’t returned within 24 hours, is on a public beach, or seems sick or injured, to contact our 24-hour emergency line on 0300 1234 999. An unhealthy seal pup looks thin – but not bony – with a visible neck, like a dog.

“It’s important the public never approach seals and keep any dogs well away and on a lead, as wild animals can have a nasty bite.”

Should you wish to help RSPCA Cymru complete rescues such as these, you can donate online.

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Capestone supplying 160,000 turkeys this Christmas

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PEMBROKESHIRE-BASED M&S supplier, Capestone, has been working around the clock to supply more than 160,000 turkeys and turkey crowns to M&S stores across the nation this Christmas.

Run by fifth-generation farmer Justin Scale, Capestone has been supplying M&S for 20 years and its business growth is intrinsically linked to this relationship.

It is also the only farm in the area that offers free range and organic products, which are growing in demand. All of the farm’s 160,000 birds this year will be the Pembrokeshire Bronze – both organic and free range.

The 2,000-acre farm started out as a small-scale farm delivering just a couple of birds at a time to M&S Carmarthen. It now supplies M&S stores across the UK and, as such, has grown to a team of 230 – rising to 430 over the peak Christmas period.

The free range Pembrokeshire bronze turkeys are especially sought after, growing over a longer period of time, meaning they are naturally fatter and more succulent.

As free-range birds, they are fed on wild herbs, clover and flowers, as well as benefiting from being able to range on the grasses in and around the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

The birds are housed in open sheds and are free to access the fields to range whenever they choose. While Christmas is a busy time for the production side of the business, January and February will see the farm busy calculating the number of new birds needed from the hatchery for 2019. June onwards is peak season for the agricultural team as they rear the turkeys ready for Christmas.

Justin said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be celebrating twenty years working with M&S. Our relationship has grown from supplying just a couple of birds at a time to providing 160,000 turkeys and turkey crowns this Christmas. It makes us really proud to know that hundreds of thousands of M&S customers will be sitting down to enjoy one of our turkeys this Christmas day.”

Lucy Herbert, Poultry Developer at M&S, said: “The quality of Justin’s produce is testament to the relationships he has built up over the years; with M&S, our customers and the next generation of farmers. Allowed to roam free in and around the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Justin’s turkeys are a prime example of quality, responsibly sourced Welsh produce that is enjoyed nationwide.

“At M&S this Christmas we’re championing our festive favourites and there’s no doubt that, for many, the Pembrokeshire bronze turkey will be the absolute centrepiece of Christmas dining. Here’s to the next twenty years of partnering with Justin and his family!”

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