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Thursday, October 14, 2004

Strange creatures

If there is one thing that the Welsh Assembly is good at it is taking threatened species to heart, protecting them and nurturing them. Thus it was with the Welsh Tories, who regained a foothold in Wales thanks to the system of proportional representation introduced along with devolution.

Recently, we have been talking a lot about the red squirrel, which has retreated to the fastness of Anglesey in an effort to fend off the unwanted attentions of its alien grey cousin. There has been a conference to discuss this rather retiring creature plus many other events and references to it in the chamber. Yesterday was no exception, this time however, the Conservative AM for Monmouth, David Davies, decided to introduce a new factor, the Thwaite Shad.

The Minister for the Environment, Planning and Countryside (Carwyn Jones): .......When the Assembly Government issues TANs, it expects them to be followed. It is as simple as that, regardless of what the local planning authority is. In terms of the red squirrel, no land has been sold recently on Anglesey, as far as I am aware. Land has been put up for potential sale at Pentraeth and I have met with the Forestry Commission to discuss the red squirrel situation there. There is no commitment yet to sell the land. I am monitoring this and I have spoken to the red squirrel group on Anglesey several times and I am committed to ensuring that the red squirrel has as sustainable a future as possible on Anglesey.

David Davies: You talk about support for the red squirrel. What about the Thwaite Shad—of which you may not have heard—which is threatened by the possibility of large-scale gravel extraction throughout the Usk valley? The Thwaite Shad is an unusual fish found in the river Usk.

Carwyn Jones: I know what a Shad is and it is not threatened by anything, because there are no applications for sand-gravel extraction in the Usk valley.

Never let it be said that we lack compassion in Cardiff Bay.

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