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Remote Pembrokeshire cattle farm moo-ves into broadband fast lane

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An Ambleston farming family, who were told fast broadband would never reach their home, are now enjoying ultrafast fibre speeds, thanks to a pioneering Pembrokeshire project.

The remote location of Anne and Richard James’ cattle farm led previous engineers to tell them that they could not receive anything other than their slow service along the old copper line.

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Problems on the line added to the frustration of barely receiving a pitiful 1Mbps, and the property sometimes went days without any service at all.

Anne said: “The engineer, last time he came, said we would never get fast broadband here.”

After signing up to join the Digital Pembrokeshire project, which uses government vouchers to enable gigabit-capable fibre connections, Mr and Mrs James are now delighted to receive a reliable high-speed connection.

Ambleston was one of Pembrokeshire’s Pilot Project Areas, and the community chose internet suppliers Broadway Partners to build the new fibre network.

Hayog Farm was connected at the end of November, after a long line of new poles was installed along their long track to bring gigabit-capable full-fibre right to their property.

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The whole family is now benefiting from a consistent, high-speed service, which enables the beef and arable farm to fill in essential admin online, while the couple’s two sons are able to work from home and quickly download games and films with ease.

Anne said: “We have to report all movements, etc, online, we are lucky we can do all we need to do

“It has been a bit of a boost for the business, it’s there when you need it.”

“We have to do things online, we can’t be without broadband these days.  It’s a basic.”

Son Rhys had to return home from Swansea University in 2020 and complete his dissertation online, before the family was upgraded, and was sometimes left with no option but to work from a relative’s house.

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He said: “Sometimes it was not working at all, when I was doing my dissertation I used to have to hotspot my laptop and we were sometimes without broadband for days.”

Rhys is now able to work from home for an Essex-based utility company, and can join video calls without interruption.

The James’ were also pleasantly surprised that the price of their 100Mbps fibre package was less than they were previously paying, and are now considering getting rid of their landline and replacing it with a digital alternative.

Anne added: “It has benefited the whole family.

“It’s the reliability we need. We never thought that we would get fibre up here to be honest.

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“We are not usually the first for anything in Pembrokeshire, and it’s out here that we need it more really. It’s a great thing for rural areas.”

Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Economy, Cllr Paul Miller, said: “We’re determined to ensure all parts of Pembrokeshire have access to full fibre broadband and when we say everyone, we mean everyone.

“Down a farm track or not, our ambition is to connect every property in Pembrokeshire to a high speed fibre network.

“It’s really pleasing to see teams out, across Pembrokeshire, laying fibre and connecting homes and businesses.”

Michael Armitage, CEO of Broadway Partners said: “Through Pembrokeshire’s Ultrafast Broadband project, we have been given a wonderful opportunity to connect digitally disadvantaged communities across Wales and it is great to see our efforts make a meaningful and tangible difference to people’s lives.

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“This is a momentous moment for Hayog farm, and we are pleased to have not only enhanced the productivity of a business but optimised their remote work experience.

“This scheme is a welcome step in bridging the connectivity gap between rural and urban areas, and we look forward to advancing the communities of Herbrandston, Wiston and Slebach, amongst others, in their journey to reaping benefits of ultrafast broadband.”

(Lead image: Pembrokeshire Council)

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Farming

Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society launches 2022 Student Bursary Award

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Would you like some extra financial support to assist with your chosen college or career path? Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society’s Student Bursary Award is now open for applications.

The £1,000 bursary is open to all qualifying students studying agriculture, veterinary science, agricultural engineering, food technology, forestry or other subjects clearly allied to agriculture. 

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The bursary is tax free and will be awarded to the student who, in the opinion of a panel of judges, has submitted the best dissertation on how the bursary will assist them to complete their course of study.

The last winner of the award was 21-year-old Gracie Morris, of St. Davids. A former pupil of Ysgol Croesgoch and Ysgol Dewi Sant, Gracie was in her fourth and final year at Harper Adams University studying BSc agriculture with crop management at the time of winning the award.

Gracie said, “It was an honour and a privilege to have been awarded the Pembrokeshire County Show student bursary award in 2019. The bursary enabled me to undertake research towards my final year dissertation on biofumigation to control Rhizoctonia solani in potatoes.”

“The bursary allowed me to be financially secure during my last year of studies. Most of my spare time was spent researching for my dissertation so having a part-time job alongside university was not not possible for me.”

Gracie recommends qualifying students apply for the award.  She said, “I would urge all Pembrokeshire students who study subjects that are clearly aligned to agriculture to apply for this bursary as it won’t only assist with your studies but will also give you great experiences such as undertaking an interview which is a key employment skill. It will also assist in your future career within the agriculture industry.”

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Qualifying students must not have won the student bursary on a previous occasion, the applicant must be studying or has been accepted to study agriculture or allied subjects at a UK college or university at A-Level or higher and the applicants’ family home must be in Pembrokeshire.

Rob James, Chairman of the Society’s Bursary Committee said, “A panel of independent judges, chaired by a representative of the society, will draw up a short list of candidates who will be interviewed and the winning candidate will be asked to give a short presentation at a future meeting of the society’s show council.

“The standard of applications has always been exceptional which gives a lot of heart that there are a lot of very talented young people in our community. We are very much looking forward to receiving applications for this year’s bursary and hearing from the younger generation.”

To enter, students must submit a dissertation of 1,000 words entitled ‘How the bursary will assist my career progression.’

Further details and the entry form can be found on the website: www.pembsshow.org or by calling the show office: 01437 764331. The closing date for applications is Friday, 1 July 2022.

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Tractor queues could lead to penalty points

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A warning for farmers this Easter Bank holiday weekend as police will be on the look-out for long queues disrupting the holiday traffic.

Leading farm vehicle insurance firmQuotezone.co.uk, which compares insurance quotes for farmers, says police forces will be especially aware of the Highway Code’s Rule 169 this weekend, as record crowds could be headed for their country road trip.

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Rule 169 says road users must not create or hold up a long queue of traffic; the rule pays special attention to those driving a large or slow-moving vehicle – potentially making tractor drivers high on the list to gain police attention.

Greg Wilson, Founder of Quotezone.co.uk, says holding up more than six cars could risk 3-9 points on a driving licence, and a fine of up to £5,000.

He comments: “Traffic jams could be more numerous and longer as holidaymakers avoid foreign trips due to the chaos and cancellation at airports and ports – with the addition of mass rail engineering works ruling out alternative transport closer to home.”

If tractor drivers find they are creating queues, the Highway Code and police forces advise that they pull over, where safe, and allow traffic to overtake, as frustration can lead to dangerous manoeuvres to try and bypass farm vehicles.

The police will also be looking at motorists with caravans, trailers and horse boxes who will need to be conscious of how their driving is affecting other road users. Sensible measures such as checking mirrors, and showing reasonable consideration for other road users should avoid prosecutions.

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Greg Wilson continues: “Farmers are incredibly busy and it’s not always possible to pull over but it’s really important to be as safe as possible on the roads and also safeguard finances. 

“Penalty points could see insurance premiums increase by as much as 25% for 6 points – given tractor insurance can be rather expensive, it isn’t worth the financial risk or potentially losing a driving licence if the new penalties push total points to more than 12.”  

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Farming union hits out over Welsh and UK Government’s lack of engagement on Ukraine supply chain crisis

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The Farmers’ Union of Wales has, for a second time, written to the Welsh Government urging them to instigate actions within their control to alleviate some of the pressures of the Ukraine war on Welsh farmers and consumers.

In response to the initial letter sent to the Welsh Government on 4th March 2022, in which the Union requested a roundtable meeting with them and other stakeholders to discuss such issues and possible actions, the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd stated that the Welsh Government did not believe such a meeting was appropriate.

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FUW President, Glyn Roberts
(Image: FUW)

In his letter of reply, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We are acutely concerned at the failure of both the Welsh and UK Governments to engage with the supply chain early on in order to explore immediate actions that will help mitigate problems that are having an impact now, and will continue to do so for the remainder of the year and at least into 2023.

“Such impacts are affecting and will continue to affect not only farmers, but also consumers, and this is therefore an issue not only for the food and farming industry but also for the Welsh and UK population as a whole.”

Mr Roberts also highlighted the need for the UK Agriculture Market Monitoring Group on which the Welsh Government sits to take a more proactive approach and share information in a more timely manner, stating:

“It is worth noting that the last set of minutes published on the UK Government website relates to a meeting held on 8th February 2022, many weeks before Russia’s attack on Ukraine.”

“I know you will be aware of the impacts being reported across the supply chain, whether in terms of cooking oil, fuel, feed or fertiliser, and predicted shortages, for example of eggs, and we fully appreciate that with regard to many of these there is little if anything that the Welsh Government can do,” wrote Mr Roberts.

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“However, there certainly are actions that can be instigated by the Welsh Government to alleviate some pressures for Welsh farmers which will benefit consumers over the coming months and years, and while these may be limited we believe it is incumbent upon the Welsh Government to act now in order to do what it can to assist farmers, food producers and consumers,” he added.

(Lead image: FUW)

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