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Freeze on new roads projects to be announced

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The Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters will announce a freeze on new road building projects, whilst a review of highway schemes across Wales is carried out.

The freeze affects major road building projects such as the long-awaited Llandeilo by-pass.

Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters

Any projects where work has started will be allowed to continue, but no new major road building projects will be allowed to start.

Lee Waters will tell the Senedd: “Since 1990, Welsh emissions have fallen by 31%. But to reach our statutory target of Net Zero emissions by 2050, we need to do much more.

“In the next 10 years, we are going to need to more than double all the cuts we have managed over the last 30 years, if we are going keep temperature rises within safe limits. That means changes in all parts of our lives.

“Transport makes up some 17 per cent of our total emissions and so must play its part.

“We need a shift away from spending money on projects that encourage more people to drive and spend more money on maintaining our roads and investing in real alternatives that give people a meaningful choice.”

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The move has been criticised by the Welsh Conservatives as a blow for the recovery of the Welsh Economy after the pandemic.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport Minister, Natasha Asghar MS said: “Many roads across Wales are not fit for purpose and have had a damaging impact on our economic fortunes, environment and public safety. Regular traffic jams deter investment and have contributed to Wales having some of the worst air quality in the UK.

“Ministers seem hell-bent on letting our roads deteriorate and forcing everyone onto public transport, despite major doubts over the ability of the network in Wales to cope after years of poor management and under-investment by Labour.

“Welsh workers and businesses urgently require more information about the scope of the review and the Welsh Labour Government’s long-term intentions for our transport infrastructure.”

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The membership of the external panel that will carry out the review will be announced at a later date. The Panel will be asked to consider setting tests for when new roads are the right solutions for transport problems in line with Llwybr Newydd, the recently-published Wales Transport Strategy.

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Future Generations Commissioner Sophie Howe said: “An over-reliance on the car has led to increased noise, poorer air quality, time wasted in traffic and an unacceptable burden on communities living near our most congested roads, often in areas where fewer people drive a car.

“As we move away from building new roads, Welsh Government has to work quickly to improve alternatives – listening to communities and making it easier for more people to make public transport and active travel their first choice.

“We’re seeing a shift away from the car – driving licenses in younger people have decreased over the past 25 years – but there’s work to be done to make public transport and active travel a viable option for everyone.

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“We need an affordable, integrated, reliable, efficient and low carbon public transport network, that’s connected to things like healthcare, in rural areas especially, and housing, with safe and easy access to walking and cycling.”


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Pembrey & Burry Port

Pembrey Country Park most awarded Blue Flags in Wales

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Pembrey Country Park has won more Blue Flags than anywhere else in Wales.

Cefn Sidan has secured the prestigious Blue Flag status once again making it the most awarded Blue Flag site in Wales since 1988.

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It has won on consecutive years since 2009, apart from 2020 when the awards were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cefn Sidan was also the first Welsh beach to win the international accolade.

The Blue Flag award is only given to beaches, marinas and harbours that have the highest quality of water, environmental education and management, safety and services. It is an is an indication of a world class visiting experience and attraction site for local people and visitors to Carmarthenshire.

The popular tourist attraction has also won the Green Flag award for the last four years for its inspiring green space, having the highest possible standards, being beautifully maintained and boasting excellent visitor facilities.

Carmarthenshire County Council Cabinet Member Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Cllr Gareth John said: “I am delighted and proud that we continue to achieve these standards year on year. Pembrey Country Park and Cefn Sidan Beach is one of Wales’ top tourist attractions and has something to offer everyone. This award symbolises quality and provides assurances to visitors and tourists when looking for a place to visit.”

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(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Welsh Government

Independent review of floods announced to help Wales adapt to climate change

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An independent review of flooding events across Wales during the winter of 2020-21 has been launched, the Welsh Government has announced.

Led by one of the UK’s leading barristers, the review will help ensure Wales learns from previous flooding events and embeds good practice for the future.

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The review, which is part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, will consider evidence from investigations carried out by local authorities and Natural Resources Wales, as well as other relevant reports.

Since Storm Dennis wreaked havoc across the country in February 2020, Wales has experienced a rapid increase in the frequency of storm and flood events than at any other time in recorded history.

Heavy rainfall and storms are likely to become more frequent as a result of climate change.

The Minister for Climate Change has appointed Professor Elwen Evans QC, one of the UK’s leading barristers, to lead the review.

Professor Evans will be tasked with establishing key findings, shared concerns, lessons learned, successes and good practice, as well as identifying areas for improvement.

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Minister for Climate Change, Julie James said: “The terrible flooding we have witnessed in Wales in recent years is a stark reminder of the challenges we face from climate change. These increasingly frequent, powerful weather events create widespread trauma, disruption and financial loss for families and businesses.

“We have put a thorough flood strategy in place and recently announced the largest ever package of investment to reduce flood risk across Wales, with more than £214m over the next three years to help protect at least 45,000 homes from flood risk.

“It is vital we learn from previous events to prepare us for the future, and I am delighted Professor Evans, who brings substantial experience and authority, has agreed to lead the independent review.”

Designated Member, Sian Gwenllian said: “We have seen the devastating impact flooding can have on our communities and businesses. Alongside taking action on climate change and ensuring Wales plays its part to tackle it, addressing flood prevention and learning from the devastating 2020-21 floods will make a difference to people’s safety and peace of mind across Wales.

“I have been working closely to develop the scope and approach to delivery of this important review as part of the Co-operation Agreement, and I look forward to the findings.”

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The announcement of the independent review follows the record £214m investment in flood risk as part of the Co-operation Agreement between Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, which will protect at least 45,000 homes.

This will support Flood Risk Management Authorities, accelerate the delivery of prevention schemes, and build resilience in the system as climate change intensifies.

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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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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