LEADING animal protection group Animal Aid has launched an online petition calling on the Welsh Government to ban shooting on Welsh public land.
The petition, which is hosted on Animal Aid’s new microsite (www.animalaid.org.uk/nrw), comes in response to growing public outrage about Wales’ environmental protection agency, Natural Resources Wales (NRW), leasing areas of public land for the ‘sport shooting’ of pheasants.
The petition reads:
‘We call on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to ensure that Natural Resources Wales, as the Welsh Government-Sponsored Body responsible, stops leasing out public land to commercial shooting operations.
NRW’s key constitutional function is to act as an environmental steward of the land that it manages on behalf of the Welsh Government and citizens.
‘But leasing this land to shooting operations negatively impacts on conservation, biodiversity and animal welfare.
‘Shooting also pollutes the land with toxic lead shot which is responsible for poisoning and killing many animals.
‘NRW’s shooting leases facilitate an activity that is abhorrent to many Welsh citizens: the killing of animals for ‘sport’. The leases also mean that public access to land that is owned by Welsh citizens can be restricted.
In October 2015, a well-placed source informed Animal Aid that NRW intended to rent out some of its land in Myherin for the ‘sport shooting’ of pheasants.
As a result of several Freedom of Information requests, Animal Aid learned that at least five other parcels of land managed by NRW are already rented out for shooting.
While NRW did not initiate these shoot agreements – one or more predecessor bodies was responsible – NRW could have wound down the operations, rather than expanding them.
Media exposure of NRW’s shooting agreements, as well as public pressure on the agency and Welsh Assembly members, have resulted in NRW announcing it will conduct a review into whether it should continue to allow recreational shooting on its estate.
Animal Aid has insisted that it is vital that NRW allows independent experts, interested parties, and the public as stakeholders to participate in the review process.
Fiona Pereira, Animal Aid Campaign Manager, said: “Animal Aid’s petition calls for an end to ‘sport shooting’ on public land. That land belongs to the people of Wales and they have every right to determine how it is used.
“We are heartened that Natural Resources Wales is to conduct a review into this issue because we believe that a properly conducted, independent and stakeholder-inclusive review should come to the conclusion that shooting should be banned on Welsh public land. The majority of people abhor the killing of animals for pleasure and it is high time that NRW ceases leasing publicly-owned land for shooting and instead uses it for projects that are positive, educational and enhance the environment.”
Proposed work on dangerous Dorglwyd Junction set to be delayed
ELIN JONES AM and Ben Lake MP have expressed their frustration following a recent statement from the Welsh Government noting that work on the A487 Dorglwyd junction from Comins Coch, would be delayed.
The junction has witnessed several crashes and close-calls over recent years, with local residents calling for the development of a roundabout or similar traffic-calming measures.
The Welsh Government announced in September 2016 that a feasibility study would be undertaken by the following Summer as to consider potential options to improve the junction.
However, a recent letter from Ken Skates AM, Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport to Elin Jones AM and Ben Lake MP noted: “We are aware of the issues at the junction and an improvement scheme has been within our upgrades programme for some time. Unfortunately, due to limited financial resources and competing priorities, it has progressed slowly.”
“We are currently reviewing the scope of a possible improvement and considering solutions which are affordable and minimise environmental impact. When we are in a position to present outline solutions, a workshop with local stakeholders will be held. This is likely to be in early 2019.”
Elin Jones AM said: “Whilst I do welcome such clarification from the Cabinet Secretary on the next steps for Dorglwyd junction, it is disappointing to read that no major works for the transformation will happen due to the expense of the project. It is positive however to see that a smaller scale improvement is now to be pursued, with consultation likely to be undertaken in early 2019.”
John Roberts, local Ceredigion County Councillor for Faenor ward, added: “I share both Elin Jones’ and Ben Lake’s disappointment at the response from Ken Skates AM. The original plan was to encapsulate a more global project including the Llanbadarn bypass therefore we need to be more realistic in our aspirations for Dorglwyd corner. Having discussed the project on site with both Elin Jones AM and Ben Lake MP last week we were of the opinion that a much smaller project which could solve the Dorglwyd issue was feasible and be much cheaper than the present scheme. We will wait for the consultation period in 2019.”
Museum lights up the past
CEREDIGION MUSEUM has had a full refurbishment of its lighting thanks to £116,558 of grants from Welsh Governments Museums Archives and Libraries Division and the Rural Community Development Fund.
Museum Curator, Carrie Canham, said: “Lighting has been a problem for us for some time; the system was so old that we couldn’t get new bulbs for some of the fittings. Also, we love to put on theatrical and musical performances at the museum but we couldn’t create an atmosphere with just strip lights and footlights. We’ve now got great stage and display lighting and it’s transformed the whole experience for our audiences.
“The new lighting system is all LED, so not only does it look much better it is also more suitable for the more delicate exhibits and it saves us money on our lighting bill.”
The lighting was designed and installed by DBNAudile, who specialise in museum lighting.
The team managed to install the system with minimal disruption to visitors.
KeolisAmey awarded Wales and Borders Rail contract
KEOLISAMEY is pleased that the Welsh Government has announced its intention to award the contract to operate the Wales and Borders rail service and the South Wales Metro to KeolisAmey.
Upon successful completion of a 10-day standstill period, the contract will run from June 4, 2018, to October 14, 2033, with rail services transferring on October 14, 2018.
This standstill period is normal procurement practice.
KeolisAmey is a joint venture partnership of international public transport operator Keolis, and infrastructure asset management specialist Amey.
KeolisAmey currently runs the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in London, which has one of the best records in UK rail – consistently better than 99% reliability. Additionally, we operate and maintain Greater Manchester’s Metrolink – the largest tram network in the UK.
Alistair Gordon, Chief Executive of Keolis UK, said: “This will be a transformative new rail service for Wales and its borders which will see Keolis once more combine its worldwide expertise in passenger operations with Amey’s engineering excellence.
“We look forward to the successful completion of the procurement process – this exciting contract will deliver for all of Wales. The procurement process was rigorous, resulting in transformative solutions for the benefit of all in Wales, and indeed, future generations.
“While the proposed changes won’t happen overnight, the railway will be unrecognisable in five years thanks to the vision of the Welsh Government.”
Andy Milner, Amey’s Chief Executive, said: “Building on our successful partnership with Keolis, which already sees us deliver two high performing services – the Greater Manchester Metrolink and London’s DLR – we are honoured to be asked to operate the Wales and Borders service.
“This is a great opportunity for us to use our joint capabilities to deliver a first-rate service for Wales. We will be focused on working with Transport for Wales to transform the existing infrastructure and introduce new trains to significantly improve the passenger experience, as well as creating hundreds of new jobs and apprenticeship opportunities.”
KeolisAmey is unable to make any further comment until the procurement process has concluded and the contract has been awarded.
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