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Call for greener gardening: New survey reveals importance of eco-friendly products and practices to Welsh adults

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Garden Centre retailer Dobbies has released an expert guide to nurture a healthy, sustainable garden, as a new survey reveals the importance adults in Wales place on environmentally-friendly products and practices.

Enjoying the benefits of gardening and being in nature has many positives, for both our physical and mental wellbeing. 

Taking steps to a more sustainable future, Dobbies say they’re passionate about showcasing to gardeners, of every age and skill level, how we can all play our part to help nurture the nature on our doorstep. With a target to be peat-free by the end of 2021, you can now find Dobbies own brand peat-free compost instore.

As part of their sustainable mission, Dobbies is delighted to have recently launched a three-month trial of the UK’s first compost packaging recycling scheme. Partnering with Evergreen Garden Care to roll out the initiative in 10 stores, garden furniture will be created from the recycled material and donated to Greenfingers, a charity that creates green spaces for terminally-ill children. 

A new survey conducted for Dobbies to uncover consumer attitudes and opinions around sustainable gardening has highlighted the importance Welsh residents place on environmentally friendly products and practices. The Censuswide survey has revealed that:  

  • Over 8 in 10 (82%) Welsh adults surveyed agree they make a conscious effort/go out of their way to recycle, higher than the national UK average (73%) 
  • Over half of Welsh respondents (53%) agree they make a conscious effort/go out of their way to buy products with reduced plastic 
  • Well over half (58%) Welsh respondents said using peat-free compost is important** to them  
  • Using environmentally-friendly gardening products is somewhat important to 44% of Welsh adults surveyed, rising to over two-thirds (67%) when combined with those who said this was very important to them 
  • Two-thirds of adults in Wales surveyed (66%) said using environmentally-friendly pest control products is important** to them

Continuing to lead the way with instore recycling initiatives and launching even more sustainable products, Dobbies is on hand to help conscious customers create greener gardens this summer and beyond.

Horticultural Director at Dobbies, Marcus Eyles commented; “From encouraging garden wildlife, to using greener gardening products, there is plenty you can do to help the environment around us thrive. Gardeners are so close to nature – working with the seasons, working with the soil and the wildlife in their gardens, it’s in all our interests to look after nature and give it a gentle helping hand. Working from the ground up is a good place to start, as healthy soil means happy plants – and a more sustainable world.”

Listen to the Dobbies Sustainable Gardening podcast, where Marcus joins host Louise Midgely to discuss the importance of sustainable gardening and how Dobbies are taking steps for a greener future: https://www.dobbies.com/podcasts

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Soil health…Marcus’ 5 steps to supercharge your soil 

To a degree, gardeners have to play the hand they’re given. There’s not much you can do to affect the dominant soil type of your garden, whether it’s clay, sand or a loamy mix. But you do have power to improve your soil’s structure. Adding organic content over time is the best way to nourish soil so that it collects the vital nutrients your plants need, while efficiently draining away surplus water. Natural ways of nourishment are always best. That way, the planet benefits while your plants enjoy the best possible chance to flourish. 

1. Make compost 

Home composting is a free and satisfying way to improve your soil. If your soil is sandy, compost will add bulk; if it’s clay, compost breaks it up. Almost any garden can fit a compost heap or bin. Use roughly equal parts ‘greens’, such as weeds, grass clippings and vegetable peelings, and ‘browns’ – paper, card or prunings. 

2. Preserve peat 

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Peat was a traditional ingredient in commercial compost. But in recent years concern has grown about vanishing peat habitats. Left in place, peat stores carbon and protects against climate change. Highly effective peat-free compost options are now available. At Dobbies we’re doing our bit with a range of new peat-free products. We aim to be 100% peat-free in relation to bagged compost by the end of 2021. 

3. Attract worms 

For soil health, worms are your friends. They eat rotting organic material and provide natural fertiliser. As they burrow, they create routes for oxygen and water to reach plant roots. Adding manure or compost will make your garden attractive to worms. 

4. Grow manure 

‘Green manure’ is the term for plants that you simply chop down after they’ve grown, leave to wilt and then dig into the soil. There, they release vital nutrients. Good manure plants include buckwheat, fenugreek, mustard plants and crimson clover.  

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5. Use liquids 

Liquid fertilisers support plants at critical times, such as after they’ve been transplanted. They’re useful in container soil as well as beds and borders. Don’t overdo them – they’re at their most useful when your plants need a boost. 

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Dyfed Powys Police

Four men fined £6,000 for ‘barbaric’ illegal foul hook fishing

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Four men caught using a barbaric and illegal fishing method by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) enforcement officers during patrols of the River Loughor, near Llanelli, have been fined a total of £6,000.

They each appeared before Llanelli Magistrates Court on 16 and 17 June and pleaded guilty to the offence of foul hooking – also known as snatching – which is prohibited under Section 1 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.

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They were fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £10,300 to NRW for investigation costs.

The men were caught by NRW fisheries enforcement officers who were undertaking riverbank patrols of the River Loughor in summer 2021, working to address and prevent the use of foul hook fishing.

Each fish caught using the foul hooking method had been snagged on its tail, back or flank. All fishing equipment and illegally caught fish were seized by NRW and later confiscated by the court.

Alun Thomas, Senior Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “Foul hook fishing is barbaric, unethical and illegal. This method of fishing is not only indiscriminate on what species or size fish that are killed, but also inflicts untold damage to unseen numbers of fish which are likely to die of their injuries soon after. This is often made worse by using deliberately tampered fishing lures.

“NRW’s Fisheries Enforcement Officers and police take these incidents seriously, as do the courts. Hopefully, the small minority of anglers considering using illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines issued by the courts.”

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Romuald Krzysztof Biernacki of Dwyfor, Llanelli, was caught using the foul hooking method on 4 July 2021. He had illegally caught four mullets and six flounder fish.

Biernacki was fined £1,500 and made to pay part of NRW’s investigation costs of £2,500.

Hung Van Tran, travelled from his Gibson Road home in Handsworth, Birmingham, to fish on river Loughor on 25 August 2021. NRW fisheries enforcement officers discovered he had illegally caught four mullet fish using the foul hook method.

Hung Van Tran was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay part of NRW’s investigation costs of £1,800.

Duc Duy Tran of Brithweynydd, Tonypandy, and Tan Van Tran of Pentrebane Street, Caerphilly, were caught during another river patrol carried out by NRW fisheries enforcement officers accompanied by Dyfed-Powys Police’s Wildlife Crime Officer on 6 September 2021.

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Duc Duy Tran had illegally caught 14 mullet fish and was fined £1,500. He must also pay £3,000 to NRW for investigation costs.

Tan Van Tran had illegally caught four mullet fish. He was fined £1,500, plus £3,000 to NRW for investigation costs.

Alun Thomas added: “We would like to thank Dyfed-Powys Police, the local community and law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities. I urge them to continue to report such activity and we will investigate.

“We would encourage anyone going fishing to familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations before going.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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Science

Welsh insulation company partners with Swansea University to explore capturing carbon emissions

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Brigend-based insulation company ROCKWOOL Ltd. has announced it is partnering with the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) at Swansea University to research the capture of carbon dioxide.

Researchers are aiming to develop new carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) technologies that can assist Wales and the UK achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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Researchers at ESRI have been working on a process called Pressure Swing Adsorption to separate carbon dioxide from a mixture of gases. To date, this has been shown to work under laboratory conditions and so the next step is to investigate how it works in a real life industrial process.

Over the next 12 months, researchers will be experimenting with different adsorbent materials and operating conditions to determine the most effective method for removing carbon dioxide. Isolating carbon dioxide from a mixed gas stream is an important step in developing opportunities for use or long term storage.

Darryl Matthews, Managing Director of ROCKWOOL Ltd, said: “Alongside ROCKWOOL Ltd.’s membership of the South Wales Industrial Cluster, I am delighted we’re partnering with Swansea University to pilot new technology designed to capture CO2 emissions and are excited about its potential in supporting the drive to Net Zero.”

The demonstration unit is being developed as part of the £11.5m Reducing Industrial Carbon Emissions (RICE) project which has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and is aimed at the deployment of industrial scale demonstrations of new technology.

The carbon capture demonstration unit at Swansea University (Image: Swansea University)

Darryl continued: “Taking these important steps to understand how we can develop CCUS technology further is another important piece of the decarbonisation puzzle for us as a business. The ROCKWOOL Group has long been committed to operating sustainably and in December 2020, ROCKWOOL announced commitments to accelerate the decarbonisation of our business, with specific long-term targets verified and approved by the Science Based Targets initiative.”

Professor Andrew Barron the Principal Investigator of the RICE project summarized the achievement, “with 2050 arriving fast, the time for research is over, it is imperative to get new technology onto industrial sites in order to demonstrate viability. Partners such as ROCKWOOL are vital in achieving this goal.”

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In 2020 the ROCKWOOL Group announced ambitious, science based global decarbonisation targets that have been verified and approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The targets, which supplement existing sustainability goals, amount to an ambitious one third reduction of ROCKWOOL’s lifecycle (Scope 1, 2 and 3) greenhouse gas emissions by 2034 while at the same time continuing the reduce the carbon intensity of production.

These commitments build on ROCKWOOL’s existing status as a net carbon negative company, in that over the lifetime of its use, the building insulation ROCKWOOL sold in 2021 will save 100 times the carbon emitted in its production.

Welsh Government Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said: “These are the partnerships that will drive a stronger, greener Welsh economy. Putting world class expertise into practice is critical to our journey to net zero and this work means Bridgend will play a leading role in these exciting developments. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to support the project through the European Regional Development Fund.”

(Lead image: ROCKWOOL)

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Charity

Pembrokeshire charity recruits community fuel champions

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Pembrokeshire FRAME has received funding to recruit a community fuel co-ordinator and five volunteer champions as they look to raise awareness about energy efficiency, whilst tackling fuel poverty across the county.

The funding from gas emergency and pipeline service, Wales & West Utilities, will allow the charity to act as a community point of contact for those facing fuel poverty issues and will help to make a positive difference to local communities most in need.

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The employed advisor and five volunteer champions will help individuals claim benefits, provide debt management advice and make referrals through to Wales & West Utilities existing network of partnerships. They will also be able sign people up to the Priority Services Register (PSR), make referrals for specialist support with fitting Locking Cooker Valves and distribute free carbon monoxide alarms.

Gas emergency and pipeline service, Wales & West Utilities, has provided the funding as part of its Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance (VCMA).

Paul Hughes, Chief Officer at Pembrokeshire FRAME, said: “This funding will allow us to deliver far-reaching benefits. Not only will it allow us to get into the heart of Pembrokeshire communities to help those most in need to gain specific advice on energy efficiency and gas safety, but it will allow us to provide employment and volunteering opportunities to local people.

“We are all feeling the impacts of the rising costs of living, and this funding will allow us to run a 5 day a week hotline for fuel poverty and carbon monoxide enquiries, whilst having face to face contact across communities.

“It’s great that Wales & West Utilities is supporting our efforts by providing this funding and we are hopeful that many people will benefit.”

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Pembrokeshire FRAME is a supported employment and life changing charity that transforms hundreds of lives in Pembrokeshire each year, by providing access to learning, supported and meaningful occupation, voluntary and employment opportunities and help and support to enable individuals to reach their potential. The community fuel champion will be based at the charity’s Merlin Bridge site, however, will also work in Pembroke Dock.

Tom Robinson, Social Obligations Specialist at Wales & West Utilities, said: “We’re delighted that this funding will allow Pembrokeshire FRAME to support the most vulnerable by providing vital energy efficiency advice and safety information.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to support those most in need in our communities. Working with trusted partners like Pembrokeshire FRAME means we can help more people stay safe in their own homes.”

Between April 2021 to March 2026, Wales & West Utilities has £7m to spend on projects which support consumers in vulnerable situations and raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide and keep people safe from the ‘silent killer’.

Carbon monoxide (CO), known as the ‘silent killer’ because you can’t see it, smell it or taste it, kills 50 people a year in England and Wales and hospitalises many more. In the UK, there are more than 4,000 visits to Accident & Emergency for treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning – which can often lead to lasting neurological damage. Even low levels of exposure over an extended period can cause serious health issues, including brain injuries.

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Funding is made from the Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance (VCMA), and 75% of the money will be spent on projects relevant to Wales and south west England only, while 25% will be spent on collaborative projects with the other gas networks across the whole of the UK.

(Lead image: Wales & West Utilities)

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