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Carmarthenshire

Winter sand dune work completed at Pembrey Burrows

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Winter work by a conservation project designed to keep the habitat healthy on the internationally important sand dunes at Pembrey Burrows has been completed.

Sands of LIFE, an EU-funded conservation project led by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) aims to revitalise sand dunes across Wales. The winter work at Pembrey Burrows saw the creation of three dune notches – or gaps in the front of the dune – and stripped turf from areas of dune grassland and low-lying dune slacks to expose bare sand.

This work was necessary to help boost some of Wales’ rarest dune wildlife that depends upon bare sand habitat. The work should also increase the natural movement of sand in the dunes.

Sands of LIFE has also previously completed extensive fencing work at Pembrey Burrows. Over 2km of chestnut fencing was erected to help protect and control the cattle and ponies which perform the crucial task of grazing the dune grassland.

All these project works are part of an ambitious range of actions to rejuvenate sand dunes across Wales.

Over the last 80 years, open sand has largely disappeared from Welsh sand dunes, being replaced by dense grass and scrub. This change has been caused by factors such as the introduction of non-native plants, lower levels of grazing, climate change and air pollution. As the dunes have become more stable and overgrown, rare wildlife has declined.

The project worked closely with colleagues at NRW and Carmarthenshire County Council – owners and managers of the site – to plan all works thoroughly and ensure they were carried out to the highest standard.

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Laura Bowen, Sands of LIFE Project and Monitoring Officer South, said: “We are very happy to have completed our winter work at Pembrey Burrows. The dune notches and sand scrapes work may sound and look extreme initially; however, it is crucial to help recreate bare sand habitat that’s been disappearing from Wales’ sand dunes at a rapid rate. The dune notches will also increase the movement of sand which is essential to keep the sand dune healthy.

“Scrub and rank vegetation will outcompete specialised, low-growing dune plants. Thanks to this completed work a range of plant species can thrive and invertebrates and other fauna will now have more bare sand habitat to call home.”

Overall, Sands of LIFE is restoring over 2,400 hectares of sand dunes, across four Special Areas of Conservation, on 10 separate Welsh sites. The project runs until December 2022. Separate Sands of LIFE winter work took place at eight other sites around Wales to further boost this special habitat.

This isn’t the only active conservation project at Pembrey. On a different part of the site, Dynamic Dunescapes, a project with an UK-wide scope to help sand dune habitat, have also been hard at work completing invasive sea buckthorn removal.

David Kilner, Dynamic Dunescapes Engagement Officer for Wales, said: “We are glad to see Sands of LIFE work being completed as this will help boost the sand dunes at Pembrey Burrows, along with our very own important work.

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“The vital work of both the Sands of LIFE and Dynamic Dunescapes projects will help create a safe haven for our dune wildlife. They pollinate our food, breathe for us and connect us. Mobilising the dunes creates healthier self-managing habitats that will thrive.”

Laura Bowen added: “We would like to thank all parties included in the work, including Carmarthenshire County Council and our contractors EJ Thomas & Sons and John Davies Agricultural and Plant Ltd. Completing work during Covid-19 restrictions can prove challenging, however it is our priority to complete all work safely and in line with government guidelines.”


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Ammanford

Man who filmed rape on Ammanford victim’s phone changes plea mid trial

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A man who filmed himself raping an Ammanford woman on his victim’s phone has changed his plea to guilty midway through his trial.

Cameron Hassan, aged 31, of no fixed abode, attacked the woman, raping her as she slept on 21 August 2021.

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Hassan had been on trial at Swansea Crown Court after denying any wrongdoing. However, after the jury was shown the video of the attack and hearing the victim was going to give evidence yesterday (Tuesday, 10 May), Hassan changed his plea to guilty.

Investigating Officer DC Sophie Lambert from Dyfed Powys Police said the victim had shown great strength and determination throughout the investigation.

“I must commend her tremendous courage in coming forward and the tenacity shown throughout the investigation,” she said.

“We hope this case demonstrates that Dyfed-Powys Police acts on serious allegations such as rape and sexual assault with officers working tirelessly to secure justice for victims.

“If you are suffering because of similar abuse, please contact the police, or if you would rather speak to someone in confidence, New Pathways are an independent charity that will support you through every step of the investigation.”

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New Pathways can be contacted at 01685 379 310 or email enquiries@newpathways.org.uk

(Lead image: Google Maps)

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Carmarthenshire

Women’s Tour of Britain returns to Carmarthenshire

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The countdown is on before the world’s top women riders will race through Carmarthenshire as part of the Women’s Tour of Britain.

Some 108 cyclists will race through the County to the finishing line on top of the Black Mountain between Llangadog and Brynamman as part of the stage five event on Friday, June 10.

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The route will be starting from Pembrey Country Park at 10.45am and riders competing for the title will go through Pinged, Carway, Pontyberem, Horeb, Llansawel, and Llangadog.

A rolling road closure will take place along the 65-mile route which will come into action at 10.45am until 1.50pm.

Roads will be re-opened once the cyclists have passed through. A full road closure will be in place over the Black Mountain from 5am-5pm.

The event will be broadcast on ITV4 and across Europe with a helicopter camera crew following the race.

The Women’s Tour departs on Monday, June 6, and coincides with the final day of a four-day Bank Holiday weekend in the UK to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. The race will culminate with a prestigious finale six days later on Saturday, June 11.

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Pembrey Country Park previously hosted the Grand Départ of the men’s Tour of Britain as well as the overall finish of the Women’s Tour in 2019.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Chief Executive, Wendy Walters said: “We are thrilled that we have again been chosen to host this top cycling event. Previous years have brought an immediate economic boost to the tourism sector as well as providing a great deal of positive media coverage.”

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Dyfed Powys Police

Man banned from driving for 12 months for fishing offence

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A man from Merthyr Tydfil who travelled to the River Loughor, near Llanelli to fish using a barbaric and illegal method, has been banned from driving for 12 months as part of his sentence.

Vu Quang Tien pleaded guilty to an illegal fishing charge and also to a charge of obstruction of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Fisheries Enforcement Officer on 26 April at Swansea Magistrates Court.

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Mr Tien and two other anglers were witnessed by NRW Fisheries Enforcement Officers deliberately using the illegal foul hooking method of fishing – also known as snatching – at the river Loughor on 15 August 2021. NRW officers attended the site after several reports of illegal fishing were made to NRW’s 24/7 incident call centre by concerned members of the community.

When approached and questioned by NRW officers, Mr Tien and his accomplices showed significant hostility and reluctance to share identification documents which eventually had to be extracted by use of reasonable force.

All of Mr Tien’s fishing tackle and fish, along with his associates’ fishing tackle was seized by NRW Officers at the time of the incident. The district judge on the day at Swansea Magistrates Court gave permission to NRW to confiscate these items permanently from each of them.

The District Judge disqualified Mr Tien from driving for 12 months due to seriousness of the incident, and the premeditated and deliberate action of travelling such a distance to commit the offence.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £2,334 in fines, NRW costs and a victim surcharge.

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Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “We would like to again thank Dyfed Powys Police, the local communities and also the law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities.

“Foul hooking is a truly barbaric form of fishing carried out by a small minority of anglers in Wales, who have no regard for fish welfare.

“NRW and the Police take these incidents seriously as do the courts.

“Hopefully, the small minority of anglers who may in future, think of using any illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines and driving ban in this case issued by the courts.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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