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Neath Port Talbot

Replacement of vital Neath valley footbridge bridge to go ahead on weekend

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Work will be carried out to replace the storm damaged Blaengwrach River Footbridge on the night of Saturday, November 28th to permanently restore the link between Glynneath and Blaengwrach.

The 70-year-old footbridge had to be partially demolished earlier this year after being critically damaged during Storm Dennis – but has since remained open albeit with a restricted width.

Shortly after the damage took place, Neath Port Talbot Council approved the design and supply of a replacement bridge.

As well as providing an essential link between the villages of Blaengwrach, Cwmgwrach and Glynneath, the footbridge also carries the gas and water mains along with telephone and internet cables to the villages of Blaengwrach and Cwmgwrach which will now need to be transferred onto the replacement bridge.

Funding was secured for the project by the council with funding also provided by Welsh Government. Local contractor Ian Davies Plant has been the main contractor working on designing, making and installing the new steel footbridge.

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The A465 Trunk Road will be closed from 6.00pm on Saturday 28th November in both directions between Cwmgwrach and Glynneath Interchanges until 12.00 on Sunday 29th November to allow for the erection of a 750 tonne crane which will be used to put the new bridge in place.

Councillor Rob Jones, the Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council said : “I am pleased the Council has been able to approve the replacement of this essential footbridge link between Blaengwrach and Glynneath. The new footbridge is of huge importance to the community and will now maintain safe and easy access for pedestrians and cyclists for many years to come.

“I’d like to thank local residents for their patience while the bridge has been out of use.”


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Clydach

Historic canal route set to welcome more cyclists and walkers

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An historic canal route in Swansea, already popular with walkers and cyclists, is set to be upgraded.

Swansea Council has secured funding to upgrade a 1.4km section of towpath along Swansea Canal.

The route between Clydach and Pontardawe is already part of the national cycle network (NCN 43) and sees many people using it to walk and travel by bicycle. Overgrown vegetation and an ageing surface under foot has prompted the council to seek further funding to make it more user-friendly.

A £250,000 investment via the Welsh Government Active Travel programme has now been secured and will result in a major upgrade to the route.

Mark Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment Enhancement and Infrastructure Management, said: “Our aim will be to widen the existing path along the canal and provide an improved surface for walkers and cyclists.

“We will be working with the Canal and River Trust to make this route a safer and an even more popular walking and cycling route. We also want to continue the improvements already completed by the neighbouring local authority along their section, link up with it and maximise the regional benefits.”

The latest funding features as part of a report to the Council’s Cabinet, recommending approval of the scheme along with further investment in walking and cycling infrastructure, totalling £696,000.

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Part of the funding (£245,000) will also help create a new 1.4 km link between the communities of Clydach and Craig Cefn Parc.

Additional investment will be spent on the introduction of locally produced artwork along existing sections of the city’s network.

Cllr Thomas, added: “We’re extremely grateful for the support from the Welsh Government in enabling us to expand and improve our current walking and cycling infrastructure.

“We want more people to consider the options of walking and cycling to travel around Swansea and to use a car less often. Making sure we have good quality routes which link up communities and give people confidence to travel safely is key to achieving this.”

Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Climate Change, with a responsibility for Transport, Lee Waters said: “We know that getting people out of cars for short journeys to cycle or walk is an ambitious agenda, but if we’re to meet our net zero carbon emission target by 2050 we need to take action now.

“Having the right infrastructure in place is key to encouraging more people to feel safe to walk and cycle and that’s why we’ve committed to investing significant funding in active travel this year.”

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(Lead image: Markus Spiske / Pexels.com)

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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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Environment

Neath Port Talbot parks recognised in Green Flag awards

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Neath Port Talbot are celebrating after several parks and open spaces are recognised as Keep Wales Tidy unveils this year’s winners of the Green Flag Award – the international mark of a quality park or green space.  

Green Flags signifying Full Awards will now be flying at Margam Country Park, Gnoll Estate Country Park, the Talbot Memorial Park and Victoria Gardens in recognition of excellent visitor facilities, high environmental standards and a commitment to delivering great quality green space.

And Community Award flags, given to locations which are welcoming, healthy, clean, safe and well environmentally managed, will be flying at the Amman Valley Trotting Club, the Riverside Park, Pontardawe, the Friends of Neath Abbey Iron Company and the Vivian Park Nature Garden.

In recent times, parks and other green spaces have been a beneficial factor in improving the wellbeing of their visitors, following what has been a difficult time for many. 

Cllr Peter Rees, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture, said: “The Green Flag Awards are a well deserved accolade for these venues because of their continued high standards and provision of quality green spaces which also reflect the long history of this area. Well done to all the hard working staff and volunteers involved!”

A total of 248 parks and green spaces across the country have received the prestigious Green Flag Award and Green Flag Community Award – from country parks and formal gardens, to allotments, woodlands and churchyards.

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

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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.” 

(All images: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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