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Johnston’s ‘outrageous’ border control post plan derailed by ‘large number of bat species’

ON THURSDAY, March 8, the Welsh Government announced it has ended negotiations to buy a plot of land in Johnston for a Border Control Post.

After months of uncertainty and a vigorous campaign by the Community Council and residents, it turns out that the deciding factor was the presence of several species of bats at the selected site.

In a written statement issued to Members of the Senedd on Thursday morning (March 8), Wales’s Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said: “Where I previously announced that our preferred location for a BCP to serve both Pembroke Dock and Fishguard, was a site at Johnston.  I can confirm that we have terminated our negotiations for that particular site.
“Surveys revealed the presence of a large number of bat species.”

All species of bats are protected under UK wildlife laws.

Mr Gething continued: “In addition, the consolidation of border controls facilities onto one plot is no longer a pre-requisite.

Cllr Ken Rowlands (Pic: File)

“This expands the range of potential options for the South-West Wales permanent border control post, which may allow provision closer to the two ports, or an alternative site in the Johnston locality or elsewhere.”

Mr Gething adds that the Welsh Government will not decide on the location, or locations, of Border Control facilities in South-West Wales until July this year.

Commenting on the Minister’s statement, the member of the Senedd for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Sam Kurtz said: “Johnston was never a suitable location for a Border Control Post, and that was made clear by elected members and the community.
“Finally, the Welsh Government have understood that – even if they are using the revelation of specific bat species as the reason not to move forward.
“With the Welsh Government also admitting that all facilities don’t have to be on the one site, there are much better locations available to service both Pembroke Dock and Fishguard port, without causing the disruption to the community that the Johnston development would have made.”

The Herald spoke with local County Councillor Ken Rowlands, stepping down at May’s election.

Cllr Rowlands told us he was delighted that his tenure as Johnston’s County Councillor would end positively.

He said: “This news was music to my ears.

“The whole village will undoubtedly be so relieved. It was a victory for common sense.

“When we first learned about the proposal we approached the Welsh Government and advised the Minister Vaughan Gethin that such a decision was outrageous and that such a site should be built on a Brownfield Site.

He assured us at the time that our proposals would be considered before a decision was made .

“I’m glad that he has arrived at  the right decision. “