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'Swift review' needed into damage to coastal defences

Waves at Aberystwyth have caused signiciant damage Credit: Paul Callan

The Natural Resources Minister, Alun Davies AM, has asked Natural Resources Wales to carry out a "swift review" of damage to coastal flood defences and impact to coastal communities following this week's storms.

The Minister was in Aberystwyth, one of the worst affected areas, today to meet with the local authority and community representatives to discuss the impact of the storm and the clean up operation.

“Friday saw the worst storms to have affected the Welsh coastline for 15 years," he said.

"My thoughts are with those affected and who have had a very difficult start to the New Year.

"I would like to thank Natural Resources Wales, Local Authorities, the Fire and Rescue Services, the Police, RNLI and other agencies for their efforts in evacuating those at risk and in undertaking the clean up operation.

“It is impossible to totally prevent flooding but we are working to build resilience around our coasts in Wales.

“Our coastal flood defences have been severely tested by these storms and it is vital to look at how our sea defences have managed to stand up to the power of the recent storms.

"That is why I have asked Natural Resources Wales to carry out this swift review with the immediate priority being to identify and assess any damage caused so that we can prioritise repair work and see what lessons we can learn to be well prepared for future severe weather.

“There is further stormy weather forecast for the days ahead so I urge people to follow the advice of the emergency services and Natural Resources Wales and stay away from the coast.

“I will be making a statement setting out more details later this week."

Marine Conservation Zone proposals withdrawn

Proposals to create Marine Conservation Zones in Wales have been scrapped. Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies made the announcement in a statement released this morning.

Many people in Wales rely upon and use our seas to support their livelihoods and recreational activities. We want this to continue and develop as part of our blue growth agenda.

Last year we consulted on options for highlyprotected Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). This generated a substantial responsethat expressed divergent and strongly held views.

A task and finish team, supported by a Stakeholder Focus Group, was established to consider and advise how we should take forward MCZs in Wales. I have met with both of these groups to thank them for their positive and constructive contribution throughout the process.

I will be taking forward the recommendations of the task and finish team and to avoid any continuing uncertainty over the options presented in the 2012 consultation, I am also withdrawing all the proposed sites.

– Alun Davies AM, Natural Resources Minister

The proposals faced criticism from those whose living depends on the sea or tourism who feared it could seriously harm their livelihoods.

A total of 10 sites were proposed from Puffin Island on the eastern tip of Anglesey, along the Lleyn Peninsula, down Cardigan Bay to Dale and Skomer in Pembrokeshire.

Mr Davies says he now wants to understand more about the marine habitats and species already protected in Marine Protected Areas.

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Consumers 'have every reason' for confidence in food says minister.

Restoring confidence in the quality of our food is now a top priority, according to the Welsh Government minister dealing with the horsemeat scandal. Alun Davies has just told AMs that he's held talks with retailers about reassuring consumers.

Food in the United Kingdom is very, very safe. Food poisoning is at very, very low levels.The amount of contamination and the amount of adulteration is very, very small. So consumers have every reason to have every confidence in the food that they provide for their families.

– Deputy Minister for Agriculture Alun Davies AM
  1. Adrian Masters

Governments working together on horsemeat investigations

The Welsh Government says it's taking a close interest in the UK-wide investigations which led to the raid on Farm box food. UK Government officials are taking the lead because food labelling isn't a devolved matter.

But I understand the Deputy Minister for Agriculture Alun Davies took part in a phone conference earlier today with Whitehall officials and those from other devolved administrations. He's also issued a new statement:

Integrity and trust are fundamental to consumer confidence in the food chain. I am greatly concerned by allegations following investigations into a meat-processing business near Aberystwyth by the FSA and Dyfed Powys Police.

Welsh Beef has been awarded the European Union’s Protected Geographical Indication status. This means that the whole of the supply chain meets the highest possible standards. In practice this means that only beef from cattle born and reared in Wales and slaughtered and processed in PGI-approved premises can be labelled as Welsh Beef. It is a short supply chain. Abattoirs and processing facilities have to meet strict criteria before they can become PGI-accredited and all products are fully traceable.

All Welsh Beef branded products are subject to rigorous monitoring to maintain and underpin the highest quality and highest standards.

I believe in the quality of Welsh Beef and I trust the integrity of the PGI supply chain. I want to take this opportunity to make clear that consumers can have confidence in products labelled PGI Welsh Beef.

– Alun Davies AM, Deputy Minister for Agriculture