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Neath Port Talbot parks recognised in Green Flag awards

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Neath Port Talbot are celebrating after several parks and open spaces are recognised as Keep Wales Tidy unveils this year’s winners of the Green Flag Award – the international mark of a quality park or green space.  

Green Flags signifying Full Awards will now be flying at Margam Country Park, Gnoll Estate Country Park, the Talbot Memorial Park and Victoria Gardens in recognition of excellent visitor facilities, high environmental standards and a commitment to delivering great quality green space.

And Community Award flags, given to locations which are welcoming, healthy, clean, safe and well environmentally managed, will be flying at the Amman Valley Trotting Club, the Riverside Park, Pontardawe, the Friends of Neath Abbey Iron Company and the Vivian Park Nature Garden.

In recent times, parks and other green spaces have been a beneficial factor in improving the wellbeing of their visitors, following what has been a difficult time for many. 

Cllr Peter Rees, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture, said: “The Green Flag Awards are a well deserved accolade for these venues because of their continued high standards and provision of quality green spaces which also reflect the long history of this area. Well done to all the hard working staff and volunteers involved!”

A total of 248 parks and green spaces across the country have received the prestigious Green Flag Award and Green Flag Community Award – from country parks and formal gardens, to allotments, woodlands and churchyards.

The Green Flag Award programme is delivered in Wales by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy, with support from the Welsh Government. 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. 

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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.” 

(All images: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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Carmarthenshire

Keep your distance message as Portuguese Man o’ Wars wash ashore

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Beach walkers are being advised to keep clear of Portuguese Man o’ Wars that are being reported washed ashore along the Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire coast.

The Man o’ War is made up of a colony of organisms working together, and often mistaken for a jellyfish.

For humans and dogs a Man o’ War sting can be extremely painful and dead Man o’ Wars can still deliver a sting.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Beaches Officer Myrddin Dennis, said: “It’s not unusual for Man o’ Wars to wash up on the Pembrokeshire shore and we are receiving calls about them from around our coastline.

“Our advice would be to keep your distance and not to touch them.  Please also keep your dogs on leads so they don’t get too close.”

(Lead image: Pembrokeshire Council)

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Environment

Professor becomes clean air champion for Wales

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A Swansea University expert has been named as one of the UK’s latest clean air champions.

Paul Lewis, Professor Emeritus at Swansea University Medical School, has a research background in the environmental impacts on respiratory health.

He is an expert member on the Welsh Government Clean Air Advisory Panel, helping advise on fine-particulate targets in readiness for a new Clean Air Act in Wales. 

He is also a member of the Wales Air Quality Direction Independent Review Panel and the Domestic Solid Fuel Burning in Wales, Task and Finish Group. 

Professor Lewis’s new role will see him joining the existing national Clean Air Champions  UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) Clean Air Programme. 

Professor Lewis said he was delighted at his appointment: “The role will allow me to engage with key stakeholders from academia, industry, government, the NHS and third sector right across Wales to help develop new solutions and policies to reduce air pollution and the impacts on our health and wellbeing.” 

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The Clean Air Programme is a £42.5 million investment that supports high quality research and innovation to develop practical solutions for today’s air quality issues and equip the UK to proactively tackle future air quality challenges. 

Professor Lewis and his fellow champions act as the central point for air quality research in their respective regions and will work to increase collaboration and impact across and beyond the programme. 

They will engage with researchers funded by the Clean Air Programme to explore ways of promoting knowledge exchange with relevant research users such as local businesses, industry health professionals, local authorities and the public. 

They will also gather intelligence on new local research, policy, and industry developments and contribute new ideas to enhance the impact of the programme.

(Lead image: Swansea University)

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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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