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Plaid Cymru Conference in Llangollen

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(L-R): Adam Price AM, Professor Nigel Copner, Bethan Jenkins AM, Port Talbot Steel Worker Scott Bamsey

(L-R): Adam Price AM, Professor Nigel Copner, Bethan Jenkins AM, Port Talbot Steel Worker Scott Bamsey

LEAVING the European Union and ensuring the best future for Wales post-Brexit was the central theme amongst speakers and delegates at the Plaid Cymru Annual Conference in Llangollen last week (Oct 21-23).

The party faithful travelled from all corners of the nation to hear a series of key note speeches and debate party policy – a rare ritual at party conferences these days.

Amongst the speakers was Anglesey Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth, who called for a united voice in Wales to protect the country’s future after Brexit. He said: “We share one future.” – A reference to Plaid Cymru representing all citizens of Wales, irrespective of how they voted in the EU Referendum.

He said: “It’s interesting to note that the first Eisteddfod of Iolo Morgannwg’s revival took place in London – at Primrose Hill.

“Well, if back then in 1792 it was the voices of Welsh poets and singers filling the air, it’s time that London and the Westminster Government heard another Welsh voice – a united voice – uniting those who voted to leave as well as those that voted to remain in June’s referendum – a voice saying to the UK Government ‘deliver an exit that works for Wales as well as it possibly can’.

“Yes, Wales voted to leave, but I don’t think Wales wants to take leave of its senses when it comes to our economic future,” he added.

Motions debated at conference on the Friday (Oct 21) included greater emphasis on housing policy, tackling micro plastic waste, a citizen’s income and the steel industry in Wales.

Speaking on the steel motion and addressing a conference for the first time was new party member Scott Bamsey, a Port Talbot steel worker who wanted the party to support modernisation of the industry, and establishing a dedicated steel research and development centre in the new Innovation Campus at Swansea University.

Also commenting on steel over the weekend was Carmarthenshire Assembly Member Adam Price, who said: “The potential merger of Tata and ThyssenKrupp poses a significant threat to the steel workforce and the unions in the UK and Germany are rightly concerned. Both the Unite and Community unions, as well as the Welsh Government, have all noted their concerns at the potentially devastating effect on steel communities across Wales. The Chief Executive of ThyssenKrupp has himself said that such a merger would take capacity out of the steel industry.

“Protecting the steel industry in Wales is a priority and, in doing that, we need to protect the workforce. If Tata and ThyssenKrupp fail to commit to protecting jobs at existing Tata plants, then the UK Government needs to intervene to prevent the merger in order to safeguard the industry. No merger should be allowed to go ahead without assurances about jobs and the future of Tata’s plants,” he added.

Women’s pensions, local government reorganisation and the NHS were the key motion discussions on the second day of conference (Oct 22), as well as the address from Party Leader, Leanne Wood AM.

Arfon Jones, a former police inspector who was elected as Plaid Cymru’s Police and Crime Commissioner for the North Wales constabulary in May 2016, took to the conference stage to outline his priorities to tackle substance misuse, domestic abuse, modern slavery and greater transparency and answerability in the police force.

He revealed his determination to break the cycle of re-offending. Mr Jones said: “65% of boys whose father is in jail offend and children with imprisoned parents are twice as likely to suffer mental health problems and do less well in school.”

Partnership working to reduce re-offending by ensuring that ex-prisoners were successfully reintegrated into society was a priority. “Although not directly a police matter, ensuring that former offenders don’t repeat their previous criminality is essential if we’re going to break the cycle and make our society safer. That also means using our £12m budget for reducing substance misuse across the region as wisely as possible,” he added.

Plaid Cymru’s programme for the local council elections will be focused on empowering Welsh communities, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood told conference delegates.

Ms Wood said that after the vote to leave the European Union, it was more important than ever that we empower communities to take local control and become more self-sufficient.

Hers is the only party with a plan to protect and secure the Welsh national interest after the vote to leave the European Union, Leanne Wood said, calling on Plaid Cymru members keep unity in order to take her optimistic message to people ahead of the local elections.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said: “The way we will survive and thrive post-Brexit is by doing more for ourselves. By being more self-sufficient. More co-operative in our approach.

“You can expect to see from us from next May a ‘programme of opportunity’ – to get our communities into being ready and resilient for the new situation we are in.

“Plaid Cymru’s role has always been to protect and secure the Welsh national interest. Despite the challenges and uncertainties thrown up by Brexit, we are optimistic.

“We have a clear and detailed policy programme which is designed to build our nation and give confidence to our people.

“Alone out of all of the parties in the Assembly, the Party of Wales responded to the EU referendum vote in a way that shows we are ready and up for the challenge.

“Like me, you support Plaid Cymru because you believe in Wales. You believe in our capacity to look after our best national interests.

“Conference, let us take this message of conviction from this hall today, out into our communities.

“Plaid Cymru will make a difference. And Wales will move forward, stronger.”

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River benefits after polluter pays

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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
fisheries.

“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).

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River benefits after polluter pays

Published

on

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 fisheries.

“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).

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Ceredigion County Council’s Apprenticeship recruitment campaign is now live

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THE council’s 2019 Apprenticeship programme is now open for applications until Sunday 22 September.

A council apprenticeship gives learners the opportunity to build skills and confidence while earning a salary and gaining a nationally recognised qualification. With roles available in Business Administration, ICT Technical Support and Social Care teams, there is an opportunity for everyone.

The first year of the programme is nearing an end and has been a great success. Alanah Lloyd recently completed a Business Administration Apprenticeship. She said: “I would recommend doing an apprenticeship at Ceredigion County Council to all my friends. I enjoyed the balance of real responsibilities and having the space to keep on learning.”

Maria Lloyd, Alanah’s mother said: “When Alanah was successful with her application I was delighted. It gave her the opportunity to show her work ethic and continue with her education in an organisation where there is career progression. Alanah has now gained a permanent position at the council. I would highly recommend apprenticeships to other parents.”

Lynne Connolly, Apprenticeship and Work Experience Coordinator, Ceredigion County Council said: “This year we are continuing to demonstrate our commitment to ‘grow our own’, offering opportunities for school and college leavers to continue education in a working environment and for members of the community looking to return to work or change career. All our apprentices are paid well above the minimum apprentice wage which reflects how much we value their contribution.”

To apply and find out more visit career.ceredigion.gov.uk or contact us at apprentice@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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