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Funding boost for Swansea’s Lliw Valley Reservoir will enhance visitor facilities

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A well-loved beauty spot in Swansea has been given an ‘Access to Water’ grant of £103k from Welsh Government that will enable a range of improvements for visitors to Lliw reservoirs.

Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, who operate the site, say the ‘Access to Water’ funding is an important milestone in achieving shared ambitions for the site enabling a range of paddlesports to the reservoir, including stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking. It will enable the creation of a boat wash for biosecurity and a pontoon that allows easy access to water for people of all abilities. Many local clubs have expressed a keen interest in using the reservoir for regular water sports activities. The site is already popular with local people who enjoy the café, small shop and walking routes on site.

Other visitor improvements include the creation of a new public footpath around western side of Lower Lliw reservoir to connect footpath MW16 to common land and create a circular walking route around reservoir, which will be adopted by Swansea Council. An informal path through Brynllefrith Woodlands will be upgraded so that it is suitable for wheelchairs and bicycles and all year-round use. New interpretation and a nature trail with wood carvings is also planned for visitors to enjoy the nature in abundance around the reservoir. The area is a site of outstanding natural beauty and part of the Valley’s Regional Park, one of the special character landscape areas that define Wales. The reservoirs are surrounded by a mosaic of habitats and support a wide diversity of flora and fauna, many of which are considered rare.

The project is well placed to support the delivery of The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015, which requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. Whilst Welsh Water is not a public body, it is committed to working in partnership with Swansea Council, Natural Resources Wales and Canoe Wales in the spirit of the legislation.

Welsh Government wants to see concerted; collaborative action taken by stakeholders to increase recreational access to inland waters, in line with Covid19 regulations, with the following outcomes:

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Increased and more frequent participation, across a range of recreation types:

  • More inland waters accessible more of the time.
  • By working in partnership DCWW believe that Lliw reservoirs can contribute positively to this vision.

The development of Lliw reservoirs for access and recreation will support a green recovery in Wales by enhancing the natural environment; improving the visitor experience, infrastructure and facilities; and building strong partnerships locally. It contributes to Swansea Public Sector Board’s objectives on health & wellbeing by providing quality and accessible facilities, enabling access to the natural environment and improving health and well-being, creating a sense of pride and belonging by encouraging greater use and a sense of ownership.

Cascade at Lower Lliw Reservoir (Image: Geograph / John Bristow)

Welsh Water Chief Executive Peter Perry said, “The Upper & Lower Lliw reservoirs provide a potable water supply and so protecting water quality is of vital importance, while safeguarding a highly regarded natural local beauty spot. This project will also take us one step closer to delivering our ambitions to reconnect people with water and the environment. We hope that the site becomes a hub for health and wellbeing for visitors to develop a deeper connection with the outdoors.”

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “This is an excellent example of a scheme which increases opportunities for outdoor recreation and provides safe access to water for people of all abilities. The development of these reservoirs will enable local people and visitors to gain more enjoyment from this beauty spot in line with covid19 guidelines and help to support a green recovery in Wales. I hope the success of this project will encourage development of many more similar opportunities over the coming years.”

Phil Stone, Places to Paddle Manager for Canoe Wales, the national governing body for paddlesport in Wales, added, “We are really pleased to be able to work with Dwr Cymru to help them achieve their ambitions to reconnect people with the water environment. We have recently seen a massive increase in the demand for canoeing, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding, but the limited number of venues in Wales suitable for new paddlers has always been a major obstacle. Opening up opportunities at Lliw will make it possible for people of all abilities to enjoy the water, and for many to discover a passion for paddlesport and develop a deep connection with the outdoors.”

Dave MacCallum, Specialist Advisor for Water Access & Recreation at Natural Resources Wales and Chairman of NAFW Access to Water Sub-Group said, “We are delighted to be a part of this important collaboration in South Wales; with NRW being committed to enabling responsible, inclusive recreation of Wales’ inland waters. Lliw reservoirs will now benefit from bespoke all-ability paddle-sport access facilities, along with a Biosecurity station promoting and enabling the Check Clean Dry code of practice; further paving the way for future recreation access to our inland waters for current and future generations.”

(Lead image: Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water / Shutterstock)

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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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