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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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New Quay and Aberystwyth RNLI lifeboats tasked to grounded fishing vessel

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Yesterday before sunrise (Monday 25 January) New Quay and Aberystwyth RNLI lifeboats were requested by HM Coastguard to assist a fishing vessel that had run aground south of Aberystwyth at Morfa Bychan. As the day went on the RNLI volunteer crews found themselves at sea for many hours in freezing temperatures. 

The pagers first sounded early on Monday morning with the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat from New Quay and the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat from Aberystwyth both launching on service at 6am into the darkness to a report of a fishing vessel aground.

Aberystwyth RNLI lifeboat arrived first and found the casualty vessel, a 40 tonne, 12m whelk fishing vessel which had run aground on the beach at Morfa Bychan. Aberystwyth lifeboat initially attempted to veer down but to no avail.

New Quay RNLI Coxswain, Daniel Potter said, “We made good speed up to Aberystwyth in slight to moderate sea conditions but freezing temperatures. Arriving on scene we worked with Aberystwyth lifeboat and assessed that everyone was safe on board. It was so cold that Aberystwyth lifeboat had to return to station for a crew change.

“By now the tide had dropped and there was no water around the vessel. It was therefore decided the crew would be evacuated onto land and we would return to station.”

Both lifeboats returned to station by 10am, with the Coastguard unit on the ground keeping an eye on the fishing vessel.

In the afternoon both New Quay RNLI’s all-weather and inshore lifeboats were tasked to return to the scene as the tide was beginning to turn and the vessel’s owners were onboard to attempt to refloat the vessel. New Quay RNLI lifeboats were launched shortly after 2pm with Aberystwyth RNLI’s inshore lifeboat launching at 3.30pm to assist.

Mr Potter continued, “Returning on scene we had to assess how we could ensure the safety of those onboard and prevent the vessel being pushed further up the beach by the waves. This was made more difficult by the shallow water and large boulders. However, the inshore lifeboat was able to access the shallow water to assess the situation and pass our towline to the casualty.

“After setting up the tow we held the vessel steady until she started to float at high water. With excellent team work between Aberystwyth’s and our inshore lifeboat we were able to extract the stricken vessel and tow her into deeper water. We then escorted the vessel into Aberystwyth in case of any damage to her hull or steering.”

Simon Rigby New Quay RNLI helm added, “It was the longest and coldest shout I’ve ever done on the inshore lifeboat, seven hours at sea and 32 miles covered.”

With the casualty vessel safely berthed in Aberystwyth marina, both lifeboats returned to station and the crew were stood down at 9:30pm, over 15 hours after the first launch.

Roger Couch, Lifeboat Operations Manager added, “This was a great example of excellent teamwork and seamanship, putting many hours of training to good use. We would like to thank our colleagues at Aberystwyth for their hard work in freezing conditions and their assistance in providing expert local knowledge.

“Over the last three days our all-weather lifeboat, The Frank and Lena of Stourbridge has been very busy, being launched on service three times. The volunteer crews have worked hard with strict Covid restrictions and guidelines. Remember we are on call 24/7 so if you see anyone in trouble on the coast please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

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Retail premises now required to take extra measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus

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New requirements have now come into force that require retail premises to take additional steps to protect workers and customers from coronavirus.

The additional measures were already guidance, but are now legal requirements. This includes businesses selling food or drink for consumption off the premises. These legal requirements include the need to:

  • Ensure systems are in place for controlling entry to the premises and to limit the number of customers in store at any one time;
  • Provide hand sanitisation products or hand washing facilities for the use of customers when they enter and exit the premises;
  • Introduce measures to sanitise any baskets, trolleys or similar containers provided for use by customers on the premises;
  • Remind customers to maintain a distance of 2 metres between each other and to wear a face covering by:

o   Displaying signs and other visual aids throughout the premises;

o   Making announcements on a regular basis;

  • Undertake and record a specific assessment of the risk of exposure to coronavirus at the premises and in doing so consult persons working on the premises or representatives of those persons (where a business employs five or more people);

All premises are still required to take all other reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus, such as:

  • Changing the layout of premises including the location of furniture and workstations;
  • Controlling use of entrances, passageways, stairs and lifts;
  • Controlling use of shared facilities such as toilets and kitchens;
  • Otherwise controlling the use of, or access to, any other part of the premises;
  • Installing barriers or screens;
  • Providing or requiring use of personal protective equipment

The Regulations and guidance may be found at Coronavirus legislation and guidance on the law on the Welsh Government website: https://gov.wales/coronavirus-legislation-and-guidance-law and also guidance to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus in workplaces and premises open to the public: https://gov.wales/taking-all-reasonable-measures-minimise-risk-exposure-coronavirus-workplaces-and-premises-open

 

Useful posters and guides are available from Business Wales website: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/tool-kit. A COVID-19 risk assessment template is available from Health and Safety Executive – What to include in your COVID-19 risk assessment: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/assets/docs/risk-assessment.pdf

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Ceredigion County Council remembers the Holocaust on International Holocaust Day

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THIS year Ceredigion County Council, along with many other Local Authorities across the United Kingdom, will illuminate two of Aberystwyth town’s most iconic buildings in a show of solidarity, respect, and honour to all victims of genocide. From Friday 22 through to Thursday 28 January, the Bandstand on Aberystwyth’s seafront and the Alun R Edwards Centre will be lit up purple.

Holocaust Memorial Day is an international event which takes place annually on January 27, the purpose of the day is to encourage remembrance of all victims of genocide world-wide, including honouring the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, the millions of people killed under Nazi Persecution and in the genocides that have happened since in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 is Be the light in the darkness. It encourages everyone to reflect on the depth’s humanity can sink to, but also the ways individuals and communities resisted that darkness to ‘be the light’ before, during and after genocide.

Aberystwyth Bandstand

Holocaust Memorial Day is for everyone. Each year across the UK, people come together to learn more about the past and take action to create a safer future. Although this year we are unable to hold any actual events in person due to the ongoing pandemic, this does not mean that we cannot mark this extremely important day.

Ceredigion County Council Leader, Councillor Ellen Ap Gwynn, said: “On Holocaust Memorial Day let us all take the opportunity to reflect on the atrocities committed in the past and to shine a light to lead us to a more humane way of treating our fellow citizens of the world, whatever their colour or creed, in future.

“It is vital to remember and raise awareness that the Holocaust threatened the fabric of civilisation, and genocide must still be resisted every day.

“Our world often feels fragile and vulnerable and we cannot be complacent. Even in the UK, prejudice and the language of hatred exist and must be challenged by us all.

“Together we bear witness for those who endured genocide and honour the survivors & all those whose lives were changed beyond recognition.”

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