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Railway staff help build new sensory garden for Pontarddulais community

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Network Rail and contractors, Centregreat, teamed up with a local volunteer group to help put the finishing touches to a new relaxing space in south west Wales at Coed Bach Park in Pontarddulais following their completion of bridge repair works in the area. 

Working with local community groups, Our Place and Friends of Coed Bach Park, the team of 10 spent yesterday (13 May) laying a stone path to access the new sensory garden.

Over the past two years, volunteers from the group have been working to create a sensory garden in a disused part of the park. They have cleared the area and installed seating, as well as planting various flowers, grasses and bamboo. The new path that leads from the car park will mean the garden is now accessible for people with disabilities who are supported by Our Place.

Suzan Jones, from Friends of Coed Bach Park, said: “This project has been a labour of love for us over the past two years. Starting out as an area overgrown with trees and shrubs, lots of hard work by our volunteers has created this beautiful garden where people can come to sit and experience the sights, sounds and smells.

“This new path is the icing on the cake for us, meaning the garden is now accessible for everyone to use. We are very grateful to Tonia, Network Rail and Centregreat for helping to make it happen.”

Supporting the Friends of Coed Bach Park volunteer group was the idea of the local MP.

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Tonia Antoniazzi, MP for Gower said: “It was great to join Network Rail staff at Coed Bach Park, to see how they are helping local community groups, ‘Our Place’ and ‘Friends of Coed Bach Park’.  I have no doubt that the work that has been done will go down well with everyone who uses the popular park.

“My thanks go out to the Network Rail and Centregreat staff for taking the time to lend a hand. Their kind gesture, after months of hard work on the bridge, has made an invaluable contribution to the community.”

The staff from Network Rail and Centregreat have recently been working in the local community, carrying out repair works on the nearby Pentre Road bridge. The six-month project caused unavoidable travel disruption through the area, so as a way of thanking the community for their patience, the team wanted to volunteer their time to help with the park project.

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Kevin Collins, project director for Wales at Network Rail, said: “It’s great to be able to give something back to locals to show appreciation for their patience whilst we have been carrying out work.

“The repairs and refurbishment of the bridge now gives it a 60-year lifespan, as well as enabling it to take vehicles up to 40 tonnes.

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“Hopefully the new path we have helped to install in the park will last just as long and bring enjoyment to those who live nearby.”

Work to repair and refurbish the bridge, which carries the B4296 over the railway tracks, began in November last year and was completed in April 2021.

An assessment of the bridge was carried out for any cracks or damage, a challenging process that involved grit-blasting off multiple layers of paint to ensure a thorough inspection could be carried out.

An initial estimate was that around 40 repairs would be required. However, after a detailed investigation, the number of repairs identified was 150, resulting in the project taking longer than planned.

Now the work is complete, the structure can now take vehicles up to 40 tonnes and be fit to serve the local community for generations to come.

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As well as the repairs to the structure, a footpath has been installed on the bridge by Swansea Council, as part of Welsh Government’s Active Travel programme, to make the bridge safer for pedestrians.

Lead image: From right to left: Suzan Jones from Friends of Coed Bach park, Andrew Edwards from Our Place, Tonia Antoniazzi, MP for Gower and Lee Ackerman, Network Rail Project Manager (Image: Network Rail)


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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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