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More Swansea schools save money by reducing carbon footprint

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Two large Swansea schools will see their energy bills reduced after having solar panels fitted in recent weeks.

Swansea Council is working in collaboration with Egni Co-op and the Welsh Government Energy Service to help the authority in its aims to become a net zero carbon by 2030 – and to make the net zero by 2050.

Together they installed a total of 200kW of rooftop solar on Morriston Comprehensive School and Cefn Hengoed Community School.

More than 500kW of rooftop solar has now been installed by Egni on Swansea schools – including Pentrehafod, Gowerton, Pontarddulais comprehensives, and Portmead and Glyncollen primaries.

Further Swansea school projects will follow and the partners are also looking at extending the scheme to non-school buildings.

Morriston Comprehensive School

Most of the electricity generated will be used at the schools, reducing electricity bills by £6,200 a year and cutting carbon emissions from the schools by about 1,400 tonnes over the next 20 years. Some electricity will be exported for use in the city.

Swansea Council was the first in Wales to partner with a co-op to install 360kW of solar through the award-winning Swansea Community Energy Co-op (SCEES). Egni has followed in their footsteps and Swansea will soon have installed more than 1,000kW through its pioneering cooperative approach. 

Egni co-director Rosie Gillam said: “We’d thank the school and council staff who’ve made these installs possible in such trying circumstances, and also our installer, Ice Solar, who’ve worked hard. We’re really pleased that other Swansea schools are coming forward, keen to take part in the programme.”

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Andrea Lewis, the council’s joint deputy leader and cabinet member for homes, energy and service transformation, said: “This is a positive way in which to welcome the new year. We’re delighted with this increase in clean green power at our schools in Swansea.  

“The council has just published its Charter on Climate Action as a visible public reminder that we’re working hard to make the council and city net zero. I thank everyone involved for moving rapidly to take action in response to our climate emergency declaration.”

Cefn Hengoed Comprehensive School

Jen Rayner, the council’s cabinet member for education improvement, learning and skills said: “The cost of these latest solar installations was funded by Egni Co-op and all surpluses will be spent on education projects so it’s a very good partnership approach for the council.

“The council is determined to take a lead on tackling the climate crisis and by working with Egni Co-op, we want to increase in the amount of renewable energy installed on our buildings.”

Egni Co-op is a community organisation that funds and manages solar installations in Wales. The Swansea schools panels are funded by Egni’s ongoing co-op share offer which has raised £2.2m to date and has a target of £3m. The rollout was supported by Welsh Government Energy Service.

Energy service senior manager Jim Cardy said: “This project is a great example of a social enterprise working closely with a local authority partner in Wales to tackle the climate emergency.

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“We’re pleased to have assisted Swansea Council with technical support and grant funding to progress this rollout.”

Cefn Hengoed Comprehensive School

Carl Bale, headteacher at Cefn Hengoed Community School, said: “Our staff and pupils are happy that we can now do more to tackle the climate emergency. Our Green Team are particularly delighted and they continue to successfully lead the school’s efforts to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Martin Franklin, headteacher at Morriston Comprehensive School, said: “Our students are eager to tackle climate change and it’s great that the school can now further reduce its carbon footprint. We’re delighted with our new solar panels.”

Lead image: New solar panels at Cefn Hengoed Community School (Swansea Council)


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Environment

Cadle Heath is alive with the sound of critters

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From endangered bats to moths, beetles and unusual critters, a Swansea suburb is giving locals an opportunity to discover exactly what’s living on their doorstep.

The Cadle Heath BioBlitz event funded by the Swansea Nature Partnership on Saturday, May 14, is a day packed with scavenger hunts, guided walks, opportunities to learn about the wildflowers, bugs birds, reptiles and mammals and help to gather important nature data by recording the unusual species living in this urban heath.

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This nature reserve is one of Swansea’s best kept secrets and stretches from behind Swansea Community Farm on Carmarthen Road, to popular shopping-destination, Pontarddulais Road Retail Park.

The event, which is organised by Swansea Community Farm, South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre and Penderi Green Regeneration project, will take place between 10am and 3pm at the farm. Followed by a bat walk at 8.30pm, giving people the chance to listen for the elusive, red-listed, Lesser Horseshoe Bat in its natural habitat.

Kate McCabe from Pobl, leading on the Penderi Green Regeneration Project, said: “This is an exciting event for us. Cadle Heath is one of the best examples of urban heathland in the country and we are proud to have such a rich, exciting space for nature in the heart of Swansea’s Penderi region. The fact that the heath is home to a red-listed bat species is something we should be really proud of and something we should protect and celebrate.”

“Cadle is in such a highly populated part of Swansea that it is often overlooked, and people don’t often realise the hidden haven that exists for local wildlife. This family-friendly event will really bring the area to life, giving people a unique opportunity to really explore the area with the guidance of passionate scientists and nature experts.”

Katharine Aylett, from Swansea Community Farm, said: “We are proud to be hosting such an important and exciting event for the area, and to be partners of Pobl’s Penderi Green Regeneration Project. At Swansea Community Farm, we know the positive effect activities like this have on the community and local wildlife; it’s about raising awareness of the natural world and bringing people together, outdoors. 

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“The Penderi Green Regeneration Project itself, is vital to the area and is already having a clear impact on this part of Swansea. We’re looking forward to working with them on future events and initiatives.”

The Penderi Green Regeneration Project is an initiative to support local people in their desire to improve green spaces in their area which will help boost health and wellbeing. Through a series of physical and educational opportunities, the initiative will bring the wider neighbourhood together to regenerate green spaces in the Penderi area of Swansea.

Funded by UK Government, under the Community Renewal Fund (CRF), Pobl Group is able to deliver the Project with the help of key partners, Swansea Environment Centre, Room To Grow and the Conservation Team at Swansea Council.

For more information on the free event, visit: www.swanseacommunityfarm.org.uk

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Environment

First Minister celebrates 10 years of the Wales Coast Path

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The First Minister will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Wales Coast Path with a visit to meet volunteers and walkers.

A year long programme of events and activities celebrating the Wales Coast Path will take place throughout 2022, including walking festivals, virtual challenges and art installations.

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Since its opening in 2012, the Wales Coast Path has established itself as a beacon of our nation’s natural beauty.

The 870 mile path guides walkers along Wales’ picturesque coastline, weaving its way past a hundred beaches and sixteen castles.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The coastal path is one of the crowning glories of Wales and one of the proudest achievements of devolution.

“I would like to thank all those involved in the management of the path. Particularly the staff and volunteers, who are out in all weathers, working hard to maintain the path to such high standards.

“If I had to choose my favourite stretch of the path, the portion between Pendine and Amroth would be a candidate: starting in my own home county of Carmarthenshire, and ending in Pembrokeshire. It may not be the most well-known part of the path, but it offers huge variety: some challenging climbs, outstanding variety of flowers, secret coves and plenty of historical interest”.

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The Welsh Government will build on the successes of the first ten years so that more people are able to enjoy the path, from more backgrounds, more easily, and with more benefits for local communities, businesses and the environment.

The Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS, asked Huw Irranca-Davies, MS for Ogmore to undertake a review of the Wales Coast Path.

A small group, drawn from academia and the public, private and voluntary sectors was established to undertake the review.

The Group reflected on the key achievements over the last decade and identified how to maximise opportunities for the future.

Their report has been published on the Welsh Government website today (11 May).

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The review recognises the potential value and challenges of the Wales Coast Path. It contains 19 recommendations for the Welsh Government to consider when developing its future strategic approach to the path.

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Dyfed Powys Police

Man banned from driving for 12 months for fishing offence

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A man from Merthyr Tydfil who travelled to the River Loughor, near Llanelli to fish using a barbaric and illegal method, has been banned from driving for 12 months as part of his sentence.

Vu Quang Tien pleaded guilty to an illegal fishing charge and also to a charge of obstruction of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Fisheries Enforcement Officer on 26 April at Swansea Magistrates Court.

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Mr Tien and two other anglers were witnessed by NRW Fisheries Enforcement Officers deliberately using the illegal foul hooking method of fishing – also known as snatching – at the river Loughor on 15 August 2021. NRW officers attended the site after several reports of illegal fishing were made to NRW’s 24/7 incident call centre by concerned members of the community.

When approached and questioned by NRW officers, Mr Tien and his accomplices showed significant hostility and reluctance to share identification documents which eventually had to be extracted by use of reasonable force.

All of Mr Tien’s fishing tackle and fish, along with his associates’ fishing tackle was seized by NRW Officers at the time of the incident. The district judge on the day at Swansea Magistrates Court gave permission to NRW to confiscate these items permanently from each of them.

The District Judge disqualified Mr Tien from driving for 12 months due to seriousness of the incident, and the premeditated and deliberate action of travelling such a distance to commit the offence.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £2,334 in fines, NRW costs and a victim surcharge.

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Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “We would like to again thank Dyfed Powys Police, the local communities and also the law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities.

“Foul hooking is a truly barbaric form of fishing carried out by a small minority of anglers in Wales, who have no regard for fish welfare.

“NRW and the Police take these incidents seriously as do the courts.

“Hopefully, the small minority of anglers who may in future, think of using any illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines and driving ban in this case issued by the courts.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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