A MAJOR river pollution incident in Mid Wales has cost a company £40,000.
Pencefn Feeds Ltd, near Tregaron has paid the sum after a detailed investigation by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) into the incident in December 2016.
Around 18,000 fish are thought to have been killed on a five-mile stretch of the Teifi when approximately 44,000 gallons of pollutant leaked from an anaerobic digestion plant.
The West Wales Rivers Trust will receive £15,000 to restore fish habitat in the area.
And a further £5,000 will go to the Countryside Alliance Foundation to fund education activities about fish and the local environment for children in the Tregaron area.
The payments are consistent with a potential fine and have been made as an “enforcement undertaking”. This means that the money directly benefits the local environment.
The final £20,000 is being paid to recover all investigation and legal costs relating to the case.
Ann Weedy, Mid Wales operations manager for Natural Resources Wales, said: “This has been a very complex and time-consuming investigation and we are pleased to see the financial penalty being
used directly to repair some of the damage caused by this incident.
“This will make the Teifi a better place for fish and other wildlife by fencing river banks and developing riverside vegetation.
“We hope these payments serve as a reminder to businesses that we will take enforcement action if they pollute Wales’ environment and don’t operate responsibly.”
As well as investigating the incident and overseeing the clean-up operation, NRW also investigated the roles of all companies involved in the incident.
However, the sub-contractor mainly responsible for the incident, Hallmark Power Ltd, went into liquidation so no prosecution could be taken against them. And the main contractor, ComBigaS UK, also no longer exists, so no action could be taken against them either.
ComBigaS Denmark had links to the project but has no legal basis in the UK and is therefore not covered by UK law.
Site owner, Pencefn Feeds Ltd, had raised concerns with the companies about the quality of work, but this had not been acted upon. This would have provided significant mitigation if the matter had gone to court, so NRW concluded that accepting an enforcement undertaking was the best option in this case.
Dr Stephen Marsh-Smith OBE, Director of Afonydd Cymru, the umbrella body that represents Wales’ six Rivers Trusts commented: “This was a tragic case that was bad for the river Teifi and its
“Nonetheless, we commend the use of an Enforcement Undertaking to resolve the regulatory aspect of the case as some funding will now be put towards restoration within the catchment itself.
“The resolution of longer term damage remains a separate issue.”
Rachel Evans, Countryside Alliance Director for Wales, said: “Fishing for Schools is always grateful to receive funding to help us reach out to more young people who benefit from our unique approach to education through angling.
“Funding coming from a pollution incident and resultant settlement whilst sad, will highlight the ever-present need to align conservation and the environment with our school work.
“Tregaron has always been a bedrock of angling within the Welsh community and heritage. We fully intend to enhance and extend that rich legacy by putting this award to good use.”
NRW has been monitoring the Teifi since the incident and confirms there has been minimal effect on invertebrates.
Salmon fry have been found in the affected area, so it is likely that at least some eggs did survive.
However, juvenile and adult salmon were killed. Large numbers of brown trout were also killed, and this species will take some time to recover.
Ann Weedy continued: “The Teifi is one of the most iconic and important recreational and net fisheries in Wales and an internationally important Special Area of Conservation for endangered fish such as lampreys, salmon and bullhead.
“We all need to work together to do all we can to restore the river and reduce the number of pollution incidents damaging our precious environment in Wales.”
NRW has carried out more than 100 pollution prevention visits to farms in Ceredigion and the Teifi catchment in the past year and these have helped reduce the risk of pollution from farm slurry.
It has also inspected the other three anaerobic digestion plants in Ceredigion to ensure that their pollution prevention measures are suitable.
Pencefn Feeds Ltd has now applied for an environmental permit so they can continue to operate (see additional information for more details).
Intense Hopes and fears as Woodland homes to go before planners
FINDING a home and finding a job is the most important challenge for young local people.
So the excitement is intense at the prospect of six live work units on the edge of Rosebush village, edged by the 100 acre forest. The zero carbon homes would be fuelled by wood and solar PV and be built of local timber.
The developers are Coed Preseli and Down to Earth, with the support of Cooperative Wales, PCC housing department and the Future ‘Generations office of Welsh government. They would be rented to local people in perpetuity, at low rents, people who want to run a business from home, relating to the forest resource or supporting the local area.
Thirteen local young families are queuing up for the six homes, one writes: “It would be mine and my partner’s dream to have something like this project. He is a time served carpenter, spoon carver, furniture maker. He has also done some chainsaw carving. Oh and is a qualified engineer. I am a newly qualified furniture maker, and we are slowly building up a collection of tools to start a workshop of our own.”
Another said: “I used to work in forestry driving a forwarder and harvester mainly doing thinnings, but now I have become an arborist (tree surgeon) and I know Huw the forest manager has been trying to introduce pine Martins and Ospreys down here. Which a friend has been climbing the trees to put in man made nests for them and I’d love to be part of helping them”
Another works with big machinery in forests, leaving his family for long days in an upstairs flat with a small child and no access to a garden. It is hard on them. For this family too, the development would be the answer to their prayers.
But The National Park Authority is recommending refusal on March 10. They give a number of reasons for rejection. The architect representing the owners have written to explain how each reason is erroneous or has been addressed.
The young families are puzzled. Under One Planet Development people can come in from away and build a home in the open countryside, but local people offered the chance of the workshop they desperately need, with a home to rent at social housing rates, on the edge of an existing village, are all turned down. There is heartbreak and bewilderment among them.
“We are offering new businesses. We are working and paying taxes. This is our community where our families are. Don’t they want us here?” As a well known north Pembrokeshire Councillor exclaimed “What is wrong with the Park?”
Aberystwyth walker’s 100 miles challenge in time for 64th birthday
HYWEL DDA Health Charities has thanked epic fundraiser Annette Smith from Talybont, Aberystwyth who has raised £710 so far walking over 100 miles in 21 days, around her local area to raise money for Bronglais Chemotherapy Day Unit.
Annette normally walks at the most 60 miles a month, so the 63 year old had really pushed her limits. She started on 10 th February and finished mile 100 on Tuesday 2 nd March, ten days before her 64th birthday on 12 th March, when she’ll celebrate her achievement with some well-deserved cake!
Annette has walked every day, trying to get to walk done in the morning to give her a good start to the day.
She says “I want to give something back to our local services in the NHS. I feel incredibly lucky that my family and I haven’t been too affected by Coronavirus and I want to do my bit to help. I feel like I need to do something to say thank you.
“I also want to set myself a challenge and push myself out of my comfort zone. Something for me to feel proud of.
“I have friends who have used or are using the chemo unit and I am worried pressures on services will increase once life starts to go back to normal.”
Annette said the challenge was a test of her physical and mental grit, but added that it was lovely to explore her local area and enjoy the surroundings.
She added “I feel ecstatic that my personal challenge has raised such a goodly sum to contribute to the great work of the Chemotherapy Day Unit at Bronglais Hospital. Their work will continue beyond this current crisis. Thanks to all my supporters and it would be great to think that my efforts could raise even more!”
Hywel Dda Health Charities is the official NHS charity for Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and
Pembrokeshire. Fundraising Manager Tara Nickerson said, “We are always grateful when people take the time to support our work, delivering services and activities above and beyond what the NHS provides. It’s truly inspiring when people who have received NHS care decide to give back as Annette has. The money she raises will directly benefit NHS patients and staff.”
There’s still time to support Annette’s amazing efforts and donate at
Cardigan veteran completes three months of icy dips to raise over £4,000 for homelessness charity Crisis
ICE, snow and rain: Bryan Larkin from Cardigan has swum through it all over the last three months, and all to raise over £4,000 to help people without a home.
A former mechanic in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Bryan took daily dips in December, January and February as part of homelessness charity Crisis’s Icebreaker challenge.
Shunning a wet-suit and smashing his £1,000 target, the 29 year-old has swum in the sea, rivers and waterfalls, as well as plunged into icy water buts and showered himself with cold hosepipes.
“The most challenging moments have to have been when the days were below 0°C with added wind chill and it was snowing or hailing. It meant you were cold before getting in and then even more so getting out and trying to get changed to try to warm up, while your body temperature continues to drop,” said Bryan.
Knowing that my daily efforts have inspired others to donate and take part, to raise crucial funds for homelessness and seeing where that money goes, has really kept me focused and motivated.”
Bryan said hot homemade soups have kept him going through the bad weather, along with friends and family. They also helped him with his video finale, ‘showering’ him with icy hoses, buckets, glasses and balloons of water from around the country.
After leaving the army, Bryan experienced mental health issues and a school friend who has been homeless recommended the Wim Hof Method to him. Named after the Dutch extreme athlete, it combines exposing oneself to cold temperatures with breathing techniques to improve overall wellbeing. Through researching cold water swimming, Bryan then came full circle when he discovered the Crisis Icebreaker.
He relished the opportunity to combine what he had learned with an issue he cares passionately about.
“Seeing my friend getting back on his feet is a big driver for me, even though he’s still struggling big time. It just baffles my mind that people have to live outside,” said Bryan.
Crisis provides year-round support to people without a home, whether they are sleeping rough, in cars, sheds, sofa surfing or in temporary accommodation. Through its eleven Skylight Centres across Great Britain, it provides employment, well-being and housing support to help people end their homelessness for good.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Bryan for his truly epic efforts over the last three months. The money he has raised throughout the bitterly cold winter will make a real difference to Crisis’s year-long work to end homelessness. His passion will show people without a home that they are not forgotten.”
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