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Natural Resources Wales

Llangennech one year on: Agencies come together to thank local community

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The Llangennech community have today (26 August) had a plaque donated to them marking 12 months since a freight train derailed, spilling 350,000 litres of diesel and causing a fire which could be seen from miles around. 

The plaque was unveiled at the west Wales village train station by representatives of those involved in the recovery operation. This includes Network Rail, Natural Resources Wales, Transport for Wales, Adler and Allan, British Transport Police (representing all emergency services) with Nia Griffith, Labour MP for Llanelli and Councillor Gwyneth Thomas for the Llangennech ward also part of the ceremony. 

Around 300 residents were evacuated from their homes by emergency services the night of the incident, due to the extent of the fire, which took firefighters almost two days to extinguish. 

The local community quickly rallied around, providing emergency shelter and food for those uprooted from their homes. 

Although, no one was injured in the incident, the derailment happened at a site of international environmental importance, causing major concern for the surrounding waterways and wildlife.  

The aftermath of the freight train derailment at Llangennech (Image: Network Rail)

An extensive environmental recovery operation followed, led by Natural Resources Wales. Six months later, 30,000 tonnes of fuel-soaked soil had been excavated from beneath more than 150 metres of railway track – preventing lasting environmental impact and protecting the local landscape.

The railway re-opened in March 2021, following the installation of brand-new track and signalling equipment damaged in the incident. 

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Aerial view of the Llangennech derailment (Image: Network Rail)

For now, the plaque will be kept in safe storage until it can be permanently positioned at Llangennech Station for residents and visitors to the village to see.

The commemorative plaque being unveiled (Image: Network Rail)

Bill Kelly, Wales & Borders route director at Network Rail said: “It’s important we recognise the part everyone played in responding to the immediate aftermath of the derailment, the massive environmental recovery operation and restoration of the railway. 

“We must also remember how frightening this was for the people locally who, despite being uprooted from their homes, rallied around, provided food and shelter – supporting each other through the toughest of times. 

“The community showed incredible bravery, support and patience. One year on, we have returned to say a huge thank you to them.” 

Natural Resources Wales, who considered this to be the biggest marine incident since the Sea Empress disaster of 1996, continues to regularly monitor the environment, to track progress and ensure the cockles and shellfish harvested from the Bury Inlet remain to be safe.

(Lead image: Network Rail)

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Dyfed Powys Police

Four men fined £6,000 for ‘barbaric’ illegal foul hook fishing

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Four men caught using a barbaric and illegal fishing method by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) enforcement officers during patrols of the River Loughor, near Llanelli, have been fined a total of £6,000.

They each appeared before Llanelli Magistrates Court on 16 and 17 June and pleaded guilty to the offence of foul hooking – also known as snatching – which is prohibited under Section 1 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.

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They were fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £10,300 to NRW for investigation costs.

The men were caught by NRW fisheries enforcement officers who were undertaking riverbank patrols of the River Loughor in summer 2021, working to address and prevent the use of foul hook fishing.

Each fish caught using the foul hooking method had been snagged on its tail, back or flank. All fishing equipment and illegally caught fish were seized by NRW and later confiscated by the court.

Alun Thomas, Senior Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “Foul hook fishing is barbaric, unethical and illegal. This method of fishing is not only indiscriminate on what species or size fish that are killed, but also inflicts untold damage to unseen numbers of fish which are likely to die of their injuries soon after. This is often made worse by using deliberately tampered fishing lures.

“NRW’s Fisheries Enforcement Officers and police take these incidents seriously, as do the courts. Hopefully, the small minority of anglers considering using illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines issued by the courts.”

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Romuald Krzysztof Biernacki of Dwyfor, Llanelli, was caught using the foul hooking method on 4 July 2021. He had illegally caught four mullets and six flounder fish.

Biernacki was fined £1,500 and made to pay part of NRW’s investigation costs of £2,500.

Hung Van Tran, travelled from his Gibson Road home in Handsworth, Birmingham, to fish on river Loughor on 25 August 2021. NRW fisheries enforcement officers discovered he had illegally caught four mullet fish using the foul hook method.

Hung Van Tran was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay part of NRW’s investigation costs of £1,800.

Duc Duy Tran of Brithweynydd, Tonypandy, and Tan Van Tran of Pentrebane Street, Caerphilly, were caught during another river patrol carried out by NRW fisheries enforcement officers accompanied by Dyfed-Powys Police’s Wildlife Crime Officer on 6 September 2021.

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Duc Duy Tran had illegally caught 14 mullet fish and was fined £1,500. He must also pay £3,000 to NRW for investigation costs.

Tan Van Tran had illegally caught four mullet fish. He was fined £1,500, plus £3,000 to NRW for investigation costs.

Alun Thomas added: “We would like to thank Dyfed-Powys Police, the local community and law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities. I urge them to continue to report such activity and we will investigate.

“We would encourage anyone going fishing to familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations before going.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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Natural Resources Wales

Tywi Valley communities asked for views to shape new commemorative woodland

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Natural Resources Wales (NRW) are asking communities surrounding the Tywi Valley in Carmarthenshire for their views to help inform the next steps in shaping the design for the commemorative woodland at Brownhill.

NRW has launched a second consultation to seek people’s feedback on how they will achieve the proposed objectives for the site.

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The next round follows on from the feedback received from the first round of public consultation which ran from 1 March – 26 April earlier this year.

NRW say that having listened to the responses from first round of public consultation, the Welsh environmental body has set out a proposal for the site. This includes three distinct areas that will prioritise different objectives: a conservation space for wildlife to flourish, a woodland space for commemoration that is fully accessible, and a growing space to deliver sustainable opportunities for food, trees, and nature.

The new woodland will form part of the Welsh Government Woodland Estate which is managed by NRW on behalf of Welsh Government, and the National Forest for Wales.

Residents will also have an opportunity to join staff from NRW at a drop in event 14 of July at Llansadwrn village hall in Carmarthenshire, to share their feedback.

Miriam Jones-Walters, Specialist Advisor Land Stewardship at Natural Resources Wales said: “We were pleased to be able to engage with so many residents through our initial on-line consultation and community drop-in session at Llangadog in March earlier this year and have the opportunity to listen to people’s views and ideas on the proposals for Brownhill.

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“It’s crucial for us to provide people living and working in this area with every opportunity to share their views on plans for this site. We have already received some fantastic suggestions about what people would like to see from the site. As a result we have been able to divide it in to three main areas, setting out objectives for each.

“We think this is an exciting opportunity to work in partnership (with, for example, a community group, a young farmer or someone else) to test out and demonstrate land use proposals to tackle the climate and nature emergency, integrated with productive agriculture.

“We’re keen to hear people’s feedback on the objectives and would encourage people to come along on the 14 July and talk to us or take part in our online consultation and have their say.”

The consultation opens on 23 June and closes on 28 July. 

The community drop-in event will be held 12:00 – 7:00pm on 14 of July at Llansadwrn reading room, SA19 8HH in Carmarthenshire,

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Natural Resources Wales

Visitors warned of blue-green algae at Bosherston Lakes

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Natural Resources Wales (NRW) officers have identified blue-green algae at Bosherston Lakes in Pembrokeshire.

They have notified the landowners National Trust and warning signs have been installed at the affected lake advising people to ensure they and their pets do not come into contact with the algae or the water, and to maintain basic hand hygiene. Pembrokeshire County Council has also been informed.

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Blue-green algae naturally occurs in inland waters, estuaries and the sea. Blooms can form when their numbers become excessive. There are currently no blooms, but floating mats and rafts of algae have been detected.

It adds oxygen to water during the day but consumes it at night. This can lead to dangerously low oxygen levels which can suffocate fish and other creatures.

Bloom and scum-forming blue-green algae can produce toxins. These toxins can be very dangerous to animals. In humans, they can cause rashes after skin contact and illnesses if swallowed.

Rod Thomas, Senior Environment Officer, of NRW, said: “Our officers in Pembrokeshire have visited and tested the lakes, and found blue-green algae to be present at some areas of the Bosherston Lakes.
“There are no blooms at present, but current weather and site conditions are ideal for blooms to occur.
“Not all blue-green algae blooms and scums are toxic, but you can’t tell just by looking at them, so it’s best to assume they are and follow advice to avoid contact with it and the water.”

Lead image: Bosherston Lakes (Image: Natural Resources Wales)

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