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NRW fail to answer Cernydd Carmel questions

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NATURAL RESOURCES WALES, the public body responsible for the protection of Wales’ environmental heritage has failed to answer key questions put to it regarding the wanton destruction of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Landowner Andrew Thomas scrubbed up and destroyed the landscape at Cernydd Carmel near Maesybont last year.

What has happened since has been a travesty of action and enforcement with both Carmarthenshire County Council and Natural Resources Wales apparently colluding in an effort to relieve Mr Thomas from the consequences of his actions.

The site has been so extensively damaged that both Natural Resources Wales and the local authority have reached an understanding that it is beyond rescue. Instead they have been slowly working out a management plan which would limit the number of horses Mr Thomas can graze and the times of year when they can graze. On past performance, the likelihood that Mr Thomas would ever abide by either the letter or spirit of any agreement is nil.

The spinelessness of the statutory agencies is something to be wondered about in a situation where almost any other landowner would have the book not only thrown at them but propelled towards them by a bazooka.

WHAT WE ASKED

We contacted NRW and asked for the following

An extended comment on the rationale underpinning NRW’s failure to protect the SSSI or to take effective enforcement action against the landowner;

Confirmation that at the point the Council became aware of the damage to the Cernydd Carmel site, it informed NRW of the extent of the destruction.

In the event that the local authority failed to notify NRW of the damage to Cernydd Carmel and the destruction of the SSSI and SAC, clarification as to whether or not it was under an obligation to do so.

If so, have NRW established whether the Council has explained its failure to inform you at the time it became aware of the damage to the site.

Further and in addition, if the Council was not under an absolute obligation to inform NRW of the destruction of Cernydd Carmel, please confirm whether or not it is usual practice for a local authority to inform NRW if and when SSSI’s and SAC’s are damaged or destroyed.

There was a major tyre fire on land nearby owned by the same landowner. Please confirm if you are aware of the incident and intend to take action regarding the storage of waste on that site.

THE ANSWER WE GOT

‘Thank you for your e-mail regarding potential damage to designated land at Carmel

‘Huw Williams, Natural Resources Wales District Team Leader for Carmarthenshire said: “We are aware of the work undertaken at the site and have carried out a full investigation of the incident. We are still working closely with the local authority to reach an outcome which will not only prevent any potential further damage to the designated features but, in time, restore these features to favourable conservation status. We are confident this work will be concluded in the near future.

“We are also aware that the local authority issued a stop notice to prevent any further potentially damaging activities”.’

WE REPEAT THE QUESTIONS

On the basis that the above did not even approach answering the questions posed, we responded to NRW as follows, pointing out that the damage was not ‘potential’ but actual.

We told NRW we had photographic evidence of Mr Thomas’s vandalism to the landscape at Cernydd Carmel. In fact, we got it from NRW’s own site report.

WE THEREFORE REPEATED OUR QUERIES:

Please confirm that at the point the Council became aware of the damage to the Cernydd Carmel site, it informed NRW of the extent of the destruction.

In the event that the local authority failed to notify NRW of the damage to Cernydd Carmel and the destruction of the SSSI and SAC, we would be grateful if you would clarify whether or not it was under an obligation to do so. If so, have you established whether the Council has explained its failure to inform you at the time it became aware of the damage to the site?

Further and in addition, if the Council was not under an absolute obligation to inform NRW of the destruction of Cernydd Carmel, please confirm whether or not it is usual practice for a local authority to inform you if and when SSSI’s and SAC’s are damaged or destroyed.

Apart from the above, there was a major tyre fire on land nearby owned by the same landowner. Please confirm if you are aware of the incident and intend to take action regarding the storage of waste on that site.

THE ANSWER

NRW responded: “Thank you for clarifying your request (We repeated it, as it was not answered. No clarification was necessary), I will seek further advice on your questions and get back to you by close of play tomorrow.

“In addition to the information given earlier NRW is aware that Mid Wales Fire and Rescue Services attended a fire at a property as stated in your previous email. We are considering our position in relation to this incident.”

‘Close of play’ came and went without further reply

As for the NRW ‘considering its position’ in respect of a fire that cost £29,000 of public money to extinguish, no doubt Mr Thomas is quaking in his boots!

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Carmarthenshire Archives’ new building officially opened

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ON MONDAY, November 28, Cllr Rob Evans, Chair of Carmarthenshire County Council, unveiled a specially designed plaque to commemorate the official opening of the brand new Carmarthenshire Archives building.

The official opening was attended by year 6 pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, along with their Headteacher Mr Dylan Evans, who designed the plaque by compiling various artwork and sketches that are housed at the Archives.

Established in 1959, Carmarthenshire Archives is the local authority archive service for the County of Carmarthenshire and the new building is located at St Peter’s Street, Carmarthen. 

The service is home to our extensive collection of historic documents that date from the 13th century to the present day. The collection includes archives, maps, books, photographs, videos and sound recordings. It is the Archives’ mission to preserve and make its documents available for general study and research.

Admission to Carmarthenshire Archives is free and open to anyone who wishes to use the Council’s records. Most of its services are free, but we do charge for some extra services and help.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Cllr Gareth John commented:

“Congratulations to the pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, they have designed an excellent and appropriate plaque that is inspired by the treasure troves of our archives. It was wonderful to welcome them to the official opening so that they can see their work take pride of place at a building that holds great significance to us in Carmarthenshire. 

“This is a brand new and modern building that is fit to keep and protect our county’s most precious historical documents. 

“But of course, these documents are meant to be viewed and studied by school children, students, academics and anybody who has an interest in Carmarthenshire’s rich history; and this excellent facility provides the perfect space for people to come and view these treasures.”

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Llandeilo gas works to begin say Wales & West Utilities

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WALES & West Utilities will shortly begin work to upgrade gas pipes in Llandeilo.

Wales & West Utilities has liaised with Carmarthenshire County Council to plan the work and it has been agreed that work will commence after the town has celebrated the Festival of Senses.

The £123,000 investment scheme, which is essential to keep the gas flowing safely to heat and power local homes and businesses, will begin in New Road on 21 November. This section of work will be complete before Christmas and Wales & West Utilities will return to the town next year to undertake further work in the Crescent Road area. Barring any engineering difficulties, work in the town will be complete by the end of February next year.

Wales & West Utilities Adam Smith is managing this gas pipe upgrade work. He said: “Working with the Council, we have planned this work to accommodate the needs of the town.

“While most of the gas network is underground and out of sight, it plays a central role in the daily lives of people across Llandeilo. Whether it’s heating your home, making the family dinner or having a hot bath, we understand how important it is for your gas supply to be safe and reliable and there when you need it.

“We know that working in areas like this is not ideal, but it really is essential to make sure we keep the gas flowing to homes and businesses in the area, and to make sure the gas network is fit for the future. We’ll have a team of gas engineers on site throughout the project to make sure our work is completed as safely and as quickly as possible while keeping disruption to a minimum.

“This work is essential to keep the gas flowing to local homes and businesses today, and to make sure the gas network is ready to transport hydrogen and biomethane, so we can all play our part in a green future.”

Our Customer Service Team is ready to take your call if you have any questions about our work. You can contact them on freephone 0800 912 2999.

Alternatively, you can contact us on Twitter @WWUtilities or Facebook.com/WWUtilities.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

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Police appeal following theft of items from Home Bargains Crosshands

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OFFICERS from Dyfed Powys Police have confirmed that they are investigating the theft of items, including a Christmas Nutcracker Ornament valued at £129.99, from the Home Bargains store in Crosshands, Carmarthenshire.

The theft occurred at about 12:40pm on Tuesday, 27th September 2022.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.

They would like to identify the people in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.

Anyone who knows who the people are, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

This can also be done either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or phoning 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DPP/2006/27/09/2022/02/C

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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