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Communities benefit from forest industry co-operation

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​LORRIES laden with timber are a familiar, if not always welcome, sight on the roads of Wales.

The effect of ​​timber transport on rural communities has often been a cause for concern but a partnership between Natural Resources Wales, private forest sectors and the local authorities of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Powys is addressing the problem through the Tywi Timber Transport Forum.

The forum was established in 2012 by NRW’s predecessor Forestry Commission Wales with the aim of taking as much timber traffic as possible off the unclassified road network by using in-forest haulage roads.

NRW’s Local Area Manager Brian Hanwell said:​ “Opening forest roads to timber traffic has benefitted small rural communities.

“For example, 7,000 vehicles which would have potentially driven through the village of Rhandirmwyn, in the north east of Carmarthenshire, over the last five years have instead used the eight mile long Esgair Dafydd to Cwm Henog forest road.”

The route is now the busiest forest road in Wales, taking traffic from the A483 trunk road into the 10,000 hectare upper Tywi forest holdings with the number of vehicles doubling since 2013.

The cost of maintaining shared haulage routes deliver benefits to communities, support rural industry, and reduce wear and tear on the public highway; and as forest gravel roads are cheaper to maintain than tarmac surfaced roads they save public money.

The forum’s investment in improvements and maintenance of the road, originally designed to carry around eight lorries per day, is an excellent example of collaborative working which​ ​promotes economic growth while recognising the needs of the local community.

Brian added:​ “We encourage all hauliers to register with us to use the Esgair Dafydd to Cwm Henog forest road. Authorisation clarifies insurance requirements, and we make no charge for this.

“In addition, we are able to pass on news regarding road closures to timber hauliers thanks to our close links with the highways authorities. And we also seek to reinforce good practice promoted in the Code of Conduct for Road Haulage of Round Timber.​”

Recently the forum has expanded its remit far beyond the Upper Tywi valley.

Significant volumes of timber traffic from the Tilhill Forestry and Scottish Woodlands holdings in the Brecon Beacons were due to travel through the small community of Coelbren in the Swansea Valley.

Before operations began, a consultation was held with local representatives, highway engineers and forestry area managers who drew up a joint Coelbren Timber Traffic Management Plan.

The plan restricted haulage to specific times of day to avoid the school run, and with speed limited to 20mph until traffic reached the A4221 Trunk Road.

Alastair Squire, Senior Forest and Harvesting Manager for Scottish Woodlands, and Iwan Parry, ‎Senior Forest Manager at Tilhill Forestry Limited said:​ ​“We have worked together to lessen the impact of timber traffic to Coelbren’s community. Soon all our hauliers were on board and compliant with the plan, and this seemed to address all the issues stemming from local residents.”

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A digital future for Ceredigion

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STARTING from today (Dec 15), we are excited to announce that The Ceredigion Herald will be a digital only publication.

Our website and social media pages have always been an important outlet for delivering news to Ceredigion, and with the re-launch of Herald Radio this year, and the launch of our news channel Herald News 24 next year, the methods in which we deliver news to Ceredigion is only going from strength to strength.

Put simply, what this means for our readers is more content, delivered quicker, and with all the benefits that only an online platform can provide – such as picture galleries and video content.

Since the first edition, The Ceredigion Herald has gained a reputation for tackling the tough stories which others ignored, reporting on local news and events, and being a voice for the communities across Ceredigion.

This is not changing.

Over the coming weeks and months we will be rolling out new additions to the website, launching our online news channel, and much more.

We hope you look forward to the evolution as much as we are, and if you have any comments, feedback or ideas, we’d love to hear them.

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FUW holds open meeting to discuss bank closures

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​IN LIGHT of the announced NatWest bank closures in Ceredigion, affecting the Lampeter and Cardigan branches, the Farmers’ Union of Wales is holding open meetings with Plaid Cymru to discuss a way forward with local MP Ben Lake and AM Elin Jones.

The meetings will take place on Thursday ​(​Dec 21​)​ at Lampeter Rugby Club and Thursday, January 18 at the Guildhall, Cardigan. Both meetings will commence at 7.30pm and are open to all.

Speaking ahead of the meetings, ​​FUW Ceredigion CEO Mared Jones said: “The closure of those banks will have a detrimental effect​ on​ our local towns, as they serve not only villages close by but many of the neighbourhoods in surrounding areas, as well as providing employment to local people.

“We are therefore holding two open meetings with our local elected representatives to discuss a way forward and I hope many of you will be able to join us.”

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Farmers warned of targeted fraud attacks

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​DYFED-POWYS POLICE is warning the farming community to be extremely wary of any suspicious calls, texts or emails as a scam specifically targeting the agricultural sector has been identified.

During December farmers start to receive payments through the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy).

Information about the payments, including the recipients’ names and the amount paid, is publically available, meaning criminals are able to directly target victims making their approaches appear more convincing.

The scam communications will typically claim that fraud has been detected on the farmer’s bank account and that urgent action is required to safeguard funds.

The victim is then persuaded to divulge personal or financial information, or even to transfer money directly into a so-called ‘safe account’.

With some grants worth thousands of pounds, in past years fraudsters have stolen significant amounts of money from their victims.

Paul Callard, Financial Crime Team, Dyfed Powys Police said: “If you receive such a call or message, hang up the phone and do not reply directly. Instead, wait five minutes and ring your bank to alert them to the scam, using a phone number that you trust – such as the one from the official website.”

Be wary of:
• Any calls, texts or emails purporting to be from your bank, the police, a Government body or other organisation asking for personal or financial details, or for you to transfer money.
• Cold callers who suggest you hang up the phone and call them back. Fraudsters can keep your phone line open by not putting down the receiver at their end.
• Any request to check that the number showing on your telephone display matches an organisation’s registered telephone number. The display cannot be trusted, as the number showing can be altered by the caller.

Remember:
• You will never be asked for your 4 digit PIN or your online banking password, or for you to transfer money to a new account for “fraud reasons”.
• If you receive a suspicious call, hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line, or where possible use a different phone line, then call your bank or card issuer on their advertised number to report the fraud.

Never disclose your:
• Four digit card PIN to anyone, including the bank or police.
• Your password or online banking codes.
• Personal details unless you are certain you know who you are talking to. People are not always who they say they are.

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