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Natural Resources Wales urges people to prepare for Winter after record breaking flooding this year

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With winter fast approaching Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is urging people to take action now to make sure they are ready and prepared to deal with the potential for the changeable and challenging weather conditions the season could bring.

The record rainfall and river flows triggered by Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge in February year arrived following an exceptionally wet winter and led to the most severe and widespread flooding incidents seen in Wales since 1979.

And with the climate emergency bringing more extreme temperatures, more rain and more flood risk, it’s more important than ever before that people understand and prepare for the range of challenges winter weather can bring.

Flooding in Barmouth (Image: Natural Resources Wales)

NRW’s flood defences help to protect 73,000 properties across Wales. Yet individuals and communities can also play an important role in reducing the impact of floods by being aware of flood risks and potential impacts and by being prepared to take action if and when a flood occurs.

NRW is encouraging people to take some simple steps to help play their part in the preparation efforts:

  • Find out if you’re at risk of flooding – NRW’s upgraded online flood maps highlight if your area is at risk of flooding from rivers, the sea, reservoirs or from surface water and small watercourses: For those properties which are at risk, the website also provides information about the practical steps families and businesses can take to reduce the impact of a flood.
  • Sign up for flood warnings – In many flood risk areas, you can sign up to NRW’s free flood warning service to receive an automated message when a flood alert, flood warning or severe flood warning has been issued in their area.
  • Create a flood plan – A template is available on NRW’s website which identifies the urgent actions people will need to take during a flood. A flood plan captures important information such as the location of gas/water mains, key contact numbers and a list of immediate actions to reduce the impact of a flood.
  • Prepare a flood kit – Be ready for a flood and have a pre-prepared kit containing essential items such as copies of insurance documents, first aid kit, prescription medication, pet or baby supplies, a torch and warm, waterproof clothing.
  • Do you have insurance? Check if you have adequate flood insurance as part of your cover.
  • Who deals with flooding? The Welsh Government’s Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) programme brings together a number of organisations from across Wales, to co-operate on preventing and managing flooding, through schemes and reporting.
  • You can also obtain help and advice by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188 
Flooding in Monmouth (Image: Natural Resources Wales)

Jeremy Parr, Head of Flood Incident Risk Management from Natural Resources Wales said: “This has already been a record-breaking year of flooding in Wales, and sadly many families and businesses are still trying to get back on their feet following the exceptional flooding caused by storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge last February.

“As our climate changes, we expect these types of events to become more frequent. And while our teams are taking action to make sure our rivers are free from debris and checking our flood defences, we also need people and communities to do their bit.

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“Understanding your flood risk is the first step. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in more people spending more time at home, and places of work or recreation closing their doors for long periods of time. If you do find that your property is at risk of flooding, there is wealth of information, advice and services which are available on our website.”

“We will never be able to prevent all flooding, so it’s important that those at risk understand what small actions they can take to help protect themselves, their families and their properties this winter.”

Plummeting temperatures this winter will also mean that rain will not be the only element to contend with this winter.

Ahead of the first cold snap, NRW is also asking people who use heating oil to warm their homes to check their tanks and pipes for leaks to avoid pollution incidents.

Oil escaping from cracked pipes and damaged tanks can be incredibly harmful to the environment, as well as very costly to the resident.

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People can report an an oil leak to NRW’s incident hotline on 03000 65 3000.

(Lead image – River Towy in flood: Nigel Davies / Geograph)


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Environment

City parks flying the green flag for excellence

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The lake at Brynmill Park

Six of Swansea’s main parks have once again been awarded green flag status, recognising the vital role they play in boosting residents’ wellbeing and improving the natural environment.

The Green Flag Award programme is delivered in Wales by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy, with support from Welsh Government. Sites are judged against eight strict criteria, including biodiversity, cleanliness, environmental management and community involvement.

In Swansea, the Council’s Clyne Gardens, Singleton Botanical Gardens, Brynmill Park, Parc Llewelyn, Cwmdonkin Park and Victoria Park have all gained the prestigious flag status.

Two more green flags have been awarded to Penllergare Trust for their efforts at Penllergare Valley Woods and Swansea University has received recognition for Singleton Campus.

Mark Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment Enhancement and Infrastructure Management, said: “Once again, our parks and cleansing teams have had their commitment to keeping our much loved parks in wonderful condition rewarded. It’s also important to recognise our council staff have achieved this during the pandemic making this achievement even more special.

“Retaining green flag status is important to the council in terms of making a wider statement on our commitment to ensure the public and visitors to the city have excellent green spaces they can visit and enjoy what we have to offer.

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“I’m also pleased to see a large number of community gardens also get recognition for what they offer residents. This is largely down to community groups and volunteers who take it upon themselves to look after these green spaces and make sure that wherever you live in Swansea, there is certain to be somewhere nearby that families can visit.”

A total of 13 ‘community awards’ have also been given to smaller community based gardens and green spaces, including two new winners – Clydach Community Garden and Blaenymaes Community Garden.

Julie James, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Climate Change, said: “Green spaces are vital for mental and physical well-being and throughout the pandemic we have seen how important these spaces have been for local communities. 

 “Wales still holds more than a third of the UK’s Green Flag community sites and it is fantastic to see more places in Wales receiving Green Flag Award and Green Flag Community Award. 

 “These landscapes play a vital role in delivering rich ecosystems and vibrant and resilient communities, and I congratulate all of the sites for providing excellent, year-round facilities and events for people in Wales.”

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 Lucy Prisk, Green Flag Coordinator at Keep Wales Tidy said: “The pandemic showed us just how important high-quality parks and green spaces are to our communities. With more visitors than ever enjoying our green spaces, I’d like to congratulate the hard work of staff and volunteers who have maintained excellent standards at these sites.”

Lead Image: The lake at Brynmill Park (Image: Swansea Council)

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Environment

Swansea University gains double recognition for its outstanding green spaces

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Swansea University has once again been named among the country’s best green spaces.

The hard work of the University’s grounds team means the prestigious Green Flag will continue to fly at both its Singleton Park and Bay campuses.

The Green Flag is the international mark of a quality park or green space and recognises excellent visitor facilities, high environmental standards, and a commitment to delivering great quality green space.

This year the University has also achieved Green Heritage Site Accreditation for the first time. This special award, endorsed by Cadw, recognises sites that are both historically significant and meet Green Flag criteria. 

Grounds manager Paul Edwards said: “After what has been a challenging time for everyone, I am delighted we’ve not only retained the Green Flag but also gained the Heritage Award status.

“Singleton’s historic features are an important and celebrated part of the campus that students, visitors and the public alike have enjoyed for many years.

“The grounds team’s in-depth knowledge of these original features ensures that they will continue to preserve and enhance such assets for future generations.”

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The University’s historic Singleton site is set in lush parkland and boasts well-established grounds providing a wide variety of habitats, with grassland, mature woodland, planted areas and ponds which help to support an extensive variety of wildlife.

The Bay Campus, adjacent to Crymlyn Burrows Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), offers beachside habitats and plenty of room to explore its variety of species.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Boyle said: “We are extremely proud that our fantastic University campus has once again been recognised with Green Flag status. We understand the importance of our grounds for people and wildlife alike, and know that they play a key role in supporting the wellbeing of our staff, students and local community. We are committed to managing them with respect and care, with sustainability at the heart of all developments.

“After the challenges of the past year, Swansea University is pleased to once again be able to welcome people back onto our campuses to enjoy these special green spaces.”

The University is among 248 parks and green spaces – from country parks and formal gardens, to allotments, woodlands, and churchyards –   to be recognised by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy, with support from Welsh Government.

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Independent green space experts volunteered their time in early autumn to judge applicant sites against eight strict criteria, including biodiversity, cleanliness, environmental management, and community involvement.

Congratulating all the winners, Minister for Climate Change Julie James described green spaces as vital for mental and physical wellbeing.  

She said: “These landscapes play a vital role in delivering rich ecosystems and vibrant and resilient communities.”

Lucy Prisk, of Keep Wales Tidy said: “The pandemic showed us just how important high-quality parks and green spaces are to our communities. With more visitors than ever enjoying our green spaces, I’d like to congratulate the hard work of staff and volunteers who have maintained excellent standards at these sites.”

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Carmarthenshire

Pembrey Country Park retains prestigious Green Flag award

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Pembrey Country Park has once again received the prestigious Green Flag Award.

The international award has been given to the popular tourist attraction for its amazing green space for the last three years.

The award is recognised for having the highest possible standards, being beautifully maintained and boasting excellent visitor facilities.

Around £4 million is being invested into the park as part of a masterplan to continue its development as a major tourism destination within Carmarthenshire and Wales.

This is the second award for Pembrey Country Park after it celebrated winning the Blue Flag status for Cefn Sidan earlier this year.

Since the Blue Flag awards were first introduced in 1988, Pembrey Country Park has won more Blue Flags than anywhere else in Wales. Cefn Sidan was also the first Welsh beach to win the accolade.

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Much of the investment has been completed with upgrading and extending camping and caravanning including the installation of a new amenity block and the opening of Yr Orsaf restaurant.

Work has already been completed on a national closed road circuit, a BMX pump track, an adventure golf course, a changing places facility at the ski and activity centre and new accessible toilets.

Improvements will soon be underway to upgrade the outside area surrounding Yr Orsaf restaurant and hub to give visitors a better experience.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said a lot of effort has been put into making the park what it is today. He said: “We are thrilled to be receiving this award once again which is only given to those green spaces that have demonstrated high standards. The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how important our green spaces are and they clearly provide health benefits for everyone.”

The Green Flag Award programme is delivered in Wales by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy, with support from Welsh Government.

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Lucy Prisk, Green Flag Coordinator at Keep Wales Tidy said: The pandemic showed us just how important high-quality parks and green spaces are to our communities. With more visitors than ever enjoying our green spaces, I’d like to congratulate the hard work of staff and volunteers who have maintained excellent standards at these sites.”

Wales still holds more than a third of the UK’s Green Flag community sites.

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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