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WG sets out water pollution plan

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Angling: Affected by agricultural pollution

THE CABINET Secretary for Rural Affairs has said she is minded to introduce a whole Wales approach to tackling nitrate pollution from agriculture and improve water quality.

Following an extensive consultation on Nitrate Vulnerable Zones last year, the Cabinet Secretary said work would get underway with partners over the coming months to develop the right balance of comprehensive regulatory measures, voluntary measures and investment.

This will also include exploring further options to provide land managers with flexibility, where these would achieve the same or better outcomes than a regulatory approach.

Lesley Griffiths said: “While nitrogen is a vital nutrient that helps plants and crops grow, high concentrations are harmful. The agricultural use of nitrates is a major source of water pollution.

“We had a considerable interest in our consultation on Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, reflecting the importance of water quality to Wales as a nation.

“Most respondents recognised the significant impact nitrate pollution is having on our waters, businesses and human and environmental well-being throughout Wales and agreed further action was needed.

“Poor nutrient management is still a major problem across Wales. Pollution of this kind is entirely preventable and is simply not acceptable in the 21st century.

“We should not at the end of 2017 see significant stretches of some of our most well-known and popular rivers largely devoid of fish, proving just how much work remains to be done.

“Wales’ waters need much greater protection from agricultural pollution and that is why I am minded to introduce a whole Wales approach to tackling nitrate pollution from agriculture.

“Over the coming months, I intend to work in partnership with our stakeholders to get the right balance of comprehensive regulatory measures, voluntary measures and investment. I also intend to explore further options to provide land managers with flexibility, where these would achieve the same or better outcomes than a regulatory approach.

“We have some of the finest countryside and stretches of water in Europe which we have a duty to protect and enhance. This new regulatory approach will help deliver this and ensure current and future generations continue to benefit from our natural resources.”

Responding to the announcement, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Mid and West AM Simon Thomas, said: “There is a glimmer of hope that a voluntary approach like that advocated by First Milk of an off-set for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones might be consider in the future.

“Over a year has passed since the Welsh Government consulted on Nitrate Vulnerable Zones in autumn 2016. This means that farmers in Wales have faced over a year of uncertainty regarding the Welsh Government’s intentions.

“Plaid Cymru has been clear from the outset that the Welsh Government should seek alternatives to NVZ which will significantly add to costs faced by farmers who already face financial uncertainty.

“I wrote to the Cabinet Secretary in November 2016 asking her to consider alternatives to NVZ such as the agroforestry approach called ‘bocage’ practiced in Brittany.

“The approach entails planting hedgerows or trees which allow nitrate recycling.

“A voluntary scheme such as this could provide an alternative method of reducing nitrogen pollution on farmland in Wales and could also provide other ecosystem services, such as flood mitigation, carbon storage and maintaining and enhancing biodiversity.

“Protecting Wales’ water from nitrogen pollution is particularly important following the referendum to leave the EU and the uncertainty regarding environmental regulation in the UK.

“However, this could be achieved through a voluntary approach, rewarding farmers for providing ecosystem services, rather than through imposing further bureaucracy and costs on farmers.”

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has given a cautious welcome to the Welsh Government’s announcement.

Responding to it, FUW President Glyn Roberts, said: “This seems to be a far more proportionate way forward than some of the options that had been proposed, but we need time to assess the details and their implications.”

Mr Roberts observed: “As a member of the three groups which will be looking at these approaches, the FUW looks forward to working on approaches which are proportionate proactive voluntary approaches which deliver positive outcomes.

“NVZ and other regulatory approaches are blunt instruments which often do not tackle the main sources of problems, and what can be complex problems. More targeted and flexible approaches can therefore better address the real causes of problems, as well as increasing engagement with industry.”

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Four further coronavirus cases confirmed in Hywel Dda area

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THE LATEST figures from Public Health Wales (PHW) reveal four new cases of coronavirus have been reported in the Hywel Dda Health Board Area.

As of today, June 2, Carmarthenshire identified three new cases, Pembrokeshire has one new case and none in Ceredigion, meaning the new totals stand at 732, 279 and 42.

Wales now has a total of 14,121, with 67 new cases and seven additional deaths recorded, bringing the death total to 1,354.

With Hywel Dda reporting 61 deaths to date.

Dr Giri Shankar, incident director for the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: “Contact tracing continues in Wales as part of the Welsh Government’s ‘Test, Trace, Protect’ strategy. Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who have come in contact with an individual with Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) in order to prevent the risk of others spreading the infection in our communities.

“Anyone who has a positive Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) test will be contacted by a team of contact tracers, and asked for details of everyone they have had close contact with while they have had symptoms.

“Please keep a note of your activities so you can easily remember your whereabouts on a given day, along with who were in contact with. You do not need to have any concerns about providing names to the tracing team. This is for everyone’s benefit and we are grateful for your continued cooperation.

“If you are asked to self-isolate, you should also comply with this request to prevent further spread of the virus.

“Tracers are trained staff and personal information that you provide will handled in line with data protection regulations and will not be shared widely.

“Over the last few weeks, Public Health Wales has been setting up the methods and guidance for how contact tracing will operate. We will continue to work closely to support local health boards and local authorities in delivering contact tracing.

“Welsh Government’s revised lockdown arrangements also continue. People from two different households in the same local area can meet up outdoors, provided they continue to maintain social distancing and strict hand hygiene.

“The announcement adds that, as a general rule, people should not travel more than five miles from home. This will help to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading as people begin to travel more.

“Revised lockdown arrangements also apply to people in Wales who have been told to ‘shield’ from the virus. They are able to go outside and meet people from another household, provided they keep a two-metre distance.

“Future relaxation of lockdown measures will also be dependent on everyone following advice set out in the ‘Test, Trace, Protect’ strategy, including self-isolating when required.

“Information about the symptoms of Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) to look out for is available on the Public Health Wales website, or members of the public can use the NHS Wales symptom checker.

“Anyone experiencing Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms can now apply for a home testing kit using the new UK online portal. For further information and a link to the booking website, visit: www.gov.wales/coronavirus or www.llyw.cymru/coronafeirws. This will be supported by a national 119 phone service, through which people can also order a home test.

“We are encouraging everyone to download the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Symptom Study app, which has been supported by Welsh Government. The app allows users to log daily symptoms to help build a clearer picture of how the virus is affecting people. For more information, including how to download the app, visit covid.joinzoe.com.

“As part of wider support measures for families, Public Health Wales is offering all parents, parents-to-be, grandparents and care-givers free access to a series of online courses designed to help them understand the development and emotional milestones of their children, covering everything from pre-birth to late teens.

“To get access users just need to visit www.inourplace.co.uk and use the code ‘NWSOL’ if you live in North Wales, and ‘SWSOL’ if you live in Mid, West or South Wales.

“Public Health Wales is also continuing working to address the negative impact of Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) on the social, mental and physical wellbeing of people in Wales. Our latest campaign, ‘How are you doing?’ is now live and offering practical advice from phw.nhs.wales/howareyoudoing.

“Anyone with a suspected coronavirus illness should not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. They should only contact NHS 111 if they feel they cannot cope with their symptoms at home, their condition gets worse, or their symptoms do not get better after seven days.

“Only call 999 if you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, do not call 999 just because you are on hold to 111. We appreciate that 111 lines are busy, but you will get through after a wait.

“We also want to reinforce the message from NHS Wales that urgent and emergency care services for physical and mental health are still open and accessible.

“For parents, if your child is unwell and you are concerned you should seek help. If you have urgent dental pain you should still call your dentist. If you have a health complaint that is worrying you and won’t go away you should call your GP practice. If you or a family member are seriously ill or injured you should dial 999 or attend your nearest Emergency Department.”

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Carers Week goes interactive

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CARERS Week runs from Monday 8 June to Sunday 14 June. It is an annual campaign to recognise the contribution that unpaid Carers make to families and communities. Carers look after a friend or family member who cannot manage on their own because they have an illness, poor health, disability, mental health issue or an addiction.

This year so far has been particularly challenging since many people have had to carry on caring while seeing support services change dramatically or pause with no idea when things will go back to any kind of normal.

The Carers Unit and partners have been working hard to bring to carers across the county a big variety of ‘treats’ to let carers know that they are being thought of and to show them appreciation. An extra special Carers week e-bulletin that’s bursting with boredom busting ideas and sanity-saving tools & techniques has been prepared.

Coleg Ceredigion students, working with the Carers Unit, has been preparing online messages of thanks, a family-friendly carer quiz, a student pen-pal project and are encouraging Carers to join them on Sunday, 14 June to raise a cuppa for Carers at 3pm.

The Carers Unit and all of its partners invite Carers to join them at one or more of the over 30 free online sessions that have specifically designed with unpaid Carers in mind. No advance booking necessary.

To find out more information and how to join in with the Carers week celebrations, go to the Carers pages on the council website www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/social-care-wellbeing/support-for-carers/carers-week-2020 council social media pages or contact the Carers Unit on 01970 633564 / carersunit@ceredigion.gov.uk

‘It takes a strong person to carry on caring – it takes a stronger, more resilient person to reach out to others.’

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Man arrested for illegal fishing in Teifi valley

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A MAN has been arrested after environmental crime officers from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) spotted an illegal net in a mid-Wales river.

The officers were conducting a routine patrol of the River Teifi on Thursday (May 14) when they came across a net in the water.

Following an investigation carried out in partnership with Dyfed Powys Police, a man was arrested on suspicion of illegal fisheries offences in the Teifi valley.

At the scene, officers retrieved the net which contained seven dead sea trout.

David Lee, NRW’s North and Mid Wales Operations Team Leader, said:

“Thanks to the excellent work of our officers and Dyfed Powys Police we were able to prevent further damage to the Teifi sea trout population.

“We take any activity that threatens sea trout and salmon extremely seriously and this is especially true of illegal fishing.

“Nets can potentially capture large numbers of fish and given the current challenges facing stock numbers currently every sea trout or salmon taken represents another blow to our efforts to protect these iconic fish.”

Despite the current Coronavirus lockdown, NRW officers are continuing to patrol Welsh rivers and people are encouraged to check that fish they buy locally – particularly through social media – are from a legitimate source.

If you see any suspicious or illegal activity on our rivers please report it to the NRW incident hotline on 0300 065 3000.

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