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At Singapore summit Ranil says Sri Lanka will exploit strategic location

Sri Lanka’s long-term objective envisages exploiting its strategic location in the Indian Ocean to ensure its economic development in a region which will be pivotal for global economic growth, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said today.Speaking at the 6th World Cities Summit, CleanEnviro Summit and International Water Week in Singapore, the Prime Minister said that the key thrust of the Sri Lanka initiative will be the Western Megapolis and the two connecting corridor which will cover 9 million people. The Southern corridor will include 3 large eco friendly Tourist Resorts of over 500 acres each in addition to a fully restored Galle Heritage Fort.  Surbana Jurong is also planning the development of Hambantota.He also said that Sri Lanka needs to politically and financially revitalize and empower local governments.  The biggest issue in the management of mega-cities is that they involve many levels of Government and Local Authorities.“Political power in many of our countries were distributed between the Central Government, the Provinces and the Local Authorities in the last century when concepts such as mega-cities and global connectivity had not even been thought of. Given that we will now have to exercise these powers for completely different objectives in a completely different environment, it is inevitable then that we must reconsider the structure of our local governments,” he said. (Colombo Gazette) The Prime Minister said that the new landfill adjacent to the Colombo Port is planned as an offshore Financial Centre. He said four Special Economic Zones will provide the infrastructure for industry. “We envision the Western Province of Sri Lanka, which includes Colombo and the capital Sri Jayewardenepura as a Megapolis of interconnected metropolitan areas.  This would include a light railway system with elevated railways, elevated highways, a multi-modal transport hub, the development of old waterways, and 3 LNG plants.  It will encompass a Logistics City, a Forest City, and an Aero City.   We will aim for maximum livability by implementing sewerage and solid waste projects, an Eco Zone, and Riverine Buffer Zone Development.  Plans for the megapolis were prepared by Surbana Jurong and the Ministry of Megapolis are in the initial stages of implementation,” he said.He said Sri Lanka will also develop two Urban Corridors; one along the 134 km-long Central Expressway leading to Kandy, and the other along the 241 km-long Southern Highway via Galle, leading to the newly built Hambantota port and Mattala airport. He said the mega infrastructure includes the development of the ports of Colombo and Hambantota in the South. read more

Home dog boarders being forced out of business by barking mad regulations

They are considered to be a man’s best friend, so it is little surprise that when dog owners have to leave their pets they want them to still have all the home comforts that they are accustomed to. But the thriving industry that provides this in the form of home daycare and boarding for dogs is now under threat because of new legislation which has been described as “barking mad”. New restrictions including each dog having to have its own room and a huge increase in fees for licences mean that some businesses are being forced to close down whilst others are losing a large proportion of their income.  In turn, the owners who depend on the facilities could be left with nowhere to go. Suzi Harris spent £25,000 adapting her  Hampshire home before she opened Just-Like-Home Doggy Daycare & Boarding in June 2017, and the new regulations mean that she will lose a third of her income. She said: “It is absolutely soul destroying. I am going to be sort of OK, but others won’t be and this is affecting hundreds of people across the country.” Suzi Harris is a dog lover who spent £25,000 adapting her home to make it perfect for dogs  Ms Harris has been lobbying Defra for a change since the rules were introduced alongside Marie Worthington, who runs Oscar’s Pals from her Berkshire home.  Ms Harris said: “One of the main issues is that the licensing authorities have raised fees, in some cases up to £800. But there is such disparity  – in some areas people are paying £80 and in others £800.” A spokesperson for campaign group Dog Owners Against Discrimination described the new rules as “barking mad”. She said: “People are heartbroken. Our experience is that the people who run these businesses do so out of love for dogs. “The businesses sprung up because of a gap in the market but it is not a high income industry and some of these people are out at all hours in all weathers walking the dogs. “If they were providing a poor service then owners would notice and word would get around the community, it is self regulating so Defra do not need to stick their nose in.”A Defra spokesperson said: “The licensing systems for businesses that work with animals have not been reformed for almost fifty years, and these changes simplify these into one system for licensees and local authorities, helping consumers to make better informed decisions and improving animal welfare even further.“Designated rooms are an important part of this, ensuring dogs have their own space away from other animals if necessary when they are being looked after. We expect local authorities to work with the businesses in their area to implement these changes.”  Suzi Harris is a dog lover who spent £25,000 adapting her home to make it perfect for dogs Credit:Christopher Pledger The rules appear to be designed to limit the number of dogs people can care for, though the business owners say anyone who would want to cram their home full of too many dogs is unlikely to apply  for  a licence in the first place. The campaign has already had some success and Defra have updated several of the guidelines in the Animal Welfare regulations that came into force on October 1. They now allow daycare providers to walk dogs off the lead if the owners have provided written consent and have included hallways and bathrooms as seperate rooms to keep dogs in if they need to be isolated. However, a number of issues remain, including the use of a star rating which is not about quality but a risk assessment based on pre-determined standards such as paperwork and how long an establishment has been running. It is feared that getting low stars despite maintaining high standards of care could put customers off. Furthermore, because the new licences are being administered by local councils there has already been evidence of them interpreting the rules differently. Most licences run out on December 31 and many of the the 5841 home boarders in the UK have not been able to renew them because of the confusion and the need for all premises to be inspected in a short space of time.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. “I think that I am going to be OK, but you just don’t know until the inspector comes around,” she said. “There are just so many people who still haven’t heard anything and don’t know what will happen to their businesses.”Ms Worthington, whose petition for change has received almost 19,000 signatures, said that the one room per dog rule penalised those with open plan houses and meant the business was determined by layout rather than space, experience or skill. Each boarding dog could be worth up to £7,000 a year, which could be “the difference between a small business being viable or not”, Ms Worthington said. Conservatories, garages and outbuildings cannot be counted as a room for a dog. As a result of this one business owner, Helen Stead, who had a licence to house six pets in The Doghouse – a specially converted heated outhouse at her Shropshire home -has been forced to close down. Despite being described as the the “crème de la crème” of boarding last year, the new rules mean that she can only get a licence for one dog and her business is not viable. People have also been barred because they share communal hallways with neighbours and other are struggling to install gates to ensure they comply with having two secure barriers to prevent the dog escaping.  read more