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Collapsed Cimla footpath to be reconstructed this weekend

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A footpath on Castle Drive, Cimla – which suffered a major road collapse due to torrential rainfall earlier this month – will be restored to pedestrian use this weekend.

However, the roadway itself is likely to remain closed to through traffic for several months due to the complex and serious nature of the collapse.

It happened on October 4th this year when emergency services across South West Wales were “inundated” with calls for help due to widespread flooding.

During the day of very heavy rain, a culvert in Castle Drive became blocked causing rain water to overtop the road and wash away an embankment causing a landslip resulting in the footpath and a large section of carriageway collapsing. 

In order to reopen the road safely and prevent a similar situation happening again, particularly given the succession of storms and heavy rainfall incidents currently being experienced, significant work will be required.

This will include : 

  • Designing a remediation scheme to retain and rebuild the road and to replace the damaged culverted section of watercourse underneath it (work has already begun on the design by the council’s in-house engineering team). 
  • Procuring contractors to carry out the specialist reconstruction work.
  • Ensuring utilities such as gas, water and electricity are maintained for local residents during the construction phase.
  • Ensuring the remediation scheme is robust and future proofed against extreme weather/rainfall by replacing the culvert crossing under the road – only undertaking the retaining element of the work would not be safeguarding the community and road users from similar occurrences. 

Cllr Mike Harvey, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Streetscene and Engineering, said: “We are glad to be able to restore through pedestrian access to Castle Drive this weekend by reinstating a footpath which was affected by this collapse.

“While we are all working to mitigate the effects of Climate Change it’s clear we are already experiencing it here.

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“Weather events such as the extreme rainfall on October 4th which caused flooding throughout the South West Wales region and which led to this road collapse, are becoming commonplace.

“We will endeavour to reinstate the highway in Castle Drive, restoring through traffic – a major engineering project the effects of which will be robust and long lasting – as soon as we possibly can.”

Only one footpath will be re-opened to allow pedestrian through access. The footpath on the opposite side of the road will remain closed.

(Lead image: NPT Council)

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Environment

Funding secured to design collapsed Cimla culvert repair

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Neath Port Talbot Council has secured Welsh Government funding of £100,000 to design a replacement for the vital culvert at Castle Drive in Cimla, Neath, which collapsed due to torrential rainfall in October.

The funding will also be used for the diversion of essential utility services which were compromised by the collapse during the evening of 4 October, 2021.

The road had to be closed both to vehicles and pedestrians for safety reasons following the collapse.

The downstream section of the carriageway had been undermined by the washing away of a supporting embankment. Following more investigations, the upstream pedestrian footway was reopened allowing a vital link for pupils to access Crynallt Infant School.

The council’s Engineering Section will now use the funding to undertake the design of a new, larger culvert and it is anticipated physical work on the scheme will start this Spring subject to further funding for other elements of the project and the completion of the design work, a tendering process for contractors plus the diversion of utility services.

Cllr Mike Harvey, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Streetscene and Engineering said: “We are grateful for the funding which means we can now start preparing to repair the damage caused on a night when emergency services across South West Wales were ‘inundated’ with calls for help due to widespread flooding.

“The very heavy and prolonged rainfall washed away an embankment which meant the road had to be shut for public safety and we will now endeavour to reinstate the damaged infrastructure in Castle Drive, restoring through traffic  as soon as we possibly can.

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“We would like to thank local residents for their patience following the disruption caused by the collapse. The restoration work will be a major engineering project but the results will be robust and long lasting.”

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Environment

Grab a spade to help woodland charity plant largest community woodland

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The Woodland Trust in Wales are calling for communities to help plant a new native woodland in its industrial heartland.

On 4 December 2021, The Woodland Trust; or Coed Cadw as it’s known in Wales; will host a community tree-planting event at Brynau in Neath, with the aim of creating the largest ever native woodland to be undertaken by the charity. 

The Community Tree-planting day will follow National Tree week, whereby school children from across South Wales will have already started planting this new woodland with their classmates. 

Sophie Thomas, Engagement Officer for Coed Cadw said that the event was “a great way to work together to combat climate change and the nature crisis”.

“We know that many people in Wales are worried about the environmental challenges we’re currently facing and are looking for ways to make a difference”, she said.

“By helping us plant a new native woodland at Brynau, we can all do our bit to combat the climate and nature crisis, whilst providing a tranquil retreat for the community at the same time”. 

Community tree planting at Brynau Wood. in Tonna, Neath (Image: Coed Cadw)

Miss Thomas continued, “Planting and protecting woods and trees is essential. Trees are a natural way to help combat the climate emergency– we just need more of them”. 

Earlier this month, the world was focused on the outcomes of COP26 which showed that Wales is at risk of failing to meet its carbon net zero ambitions unless woodland is created and restored and the state of trees, woods and hedges is improved. 

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Brynau wood was secured for the future thanks to public response to an urgent appeal; once completed, new woodland added to the site will be the size of some 100 rugby pitches. Brynau is also designated Plant! site, meaning there is a tree planted for every child born or adopted in Wales as part of a scheme introduced by the Welsh Government. 

Brynau Wood in Tonna, Neath (Image: Coed Cadw)

In 2021, The Woodland Trust’s State of the UK’s Woods and Trees report highlighted some stark warnings on the health of the UK’s trees and woods.

It found ancient woodland is rare in Wales, covering only 4.5% of the land surface. The ancient woods of Wales also include Celtic rainforest, an ecosystem of national and international importance as a home to rare plants and wildlife.

Since 1999 Coed Cadw has recorded a total of 584 ancient woodlands potentially threatened by development in Wales. Of those 584 cases, 337 have been saved, 98 have been lost or damaged, and 149 are currently under threat.

Only 2% of non-native woodland in Wales is in good ecological condition, and only 9% of native woodland. Those in poor ecological condition are characterised by low levels of deadwood, low diversity of age and species, and few open woodland habitats.

Two thirds of the woods in Special Areas of Conservation in Wales are in unfavourable condition.

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Between 2006 to 2013 some 7,000 large trees were lost. Between 2009 and 2013, 159 out of our 220 towns showed an overall decline in tree cover.

In Wales, a quarter of all hedgerows were removed between 1984 and 1990, and 78% of remaining Welsh hedgerows are in an ‘unfavourable condition’.

Just over 99% of all woods in Wales exceed nitrogen pollution levels. This has damaging effects for woodland plants and wildlife.

(Lead image: Coed Cadw)

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Food & Drink

New Neath Abbey ALDI celebrates opening with Team GB Olympian

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A brand new Aldi store in Neath opened its doors to customers this morning at 8am, with Team GB Olympic Rugby hero Sam Cross, cutting the all-important red ribbon alongside pupils from Abbey Primary School.  

The Abbey Road store is the new Aldi to open in and around Neath, and will be run by Store Manager Geraint Davies, along with a team of 25 colleagues from the local community.  

In celebration, Team GB silver medallist Sam Cross gave away complimentary bags of fresh fruit and vegetables from Aldi’s famous Super 6 range to the first 30 customers in the queue, before delivering an inspirational virtual assembly for pupils at Abbey Primary School as part of the supermarket’s initiative, Get Set to Eat Fresh – which has already inspired over two million school children aged 5-14 years to learn more about the benefits of cooking fresh, healthy food with their families.  

Olympian Sam Cross hands out bags of super six items to customers at Aldi’s New store opening at Neath Abbey

As Aldi has been fuelling Team GB with fresh, healthy food since 2015, the silver medallist from Rio 2016 focused on the benefits of eating healthy food and the importance of exercise and believing in yourself. He also talked to pupils about his experience of competing as an Olympian and shared his challenging training regime.  

Store Manager Geraint Davies said: “It’s been a wonderful morning here at the opening of Aldi Neath. It was lovely to welcome our new customers into store, and I look forward to meeting more of the community in the coming weeks. I’m also thrilled that we’ve been able to support Abbey Primary School through our partnership with Team GB.”  

Team GB hero Sam Cross added: “I’ve had a fantastic time opening the new Aldi this morning. It was an honour to officially open the store and welcome customers inside for the first time. 

“It was great to speak with the children at Abbey Primary School about the importance of eating healthily and how it can be fun to plan and prepare meals as a family. Hopefully I’ve also managed to inspire the pupils to keep active and try different sports.”  

Olympian Sam Cross with Store Manager Geraint Davies and Aldi team members at Aldi’s New store opening at Neath Abbey

The new Aldi store offers large chillers and freezers dedicated to fresh, Welsh meat products, a ‘Food to Go’ section at the front of the store, and an exclusive section full of Health & Beauty products.  

Neath customers can also take a walk down the ‘Aisle of Aldi’, where they will find legendary Specialbuys which are available every Thursday and Sunday. During opening week, the store will be offering a wide range of toys, including Barbie colour reveal dolls for £16.99, Meccano 150-piece buckets for £19.99 and Christmas Squishmallows for £7.99. 

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Aldi’s new store at Neath Abbey

Additionally, the new Aldi store is calling on local charities and food banks in Neath to register with Neighbourly, a community engagement platform that links businesses to charitable organisations in the local community.   

Local charities that register will be able to collect surplus food and perishable products, such as fruit, vegetables and baked goods, up to seven days a week. Any charities in the area that would like to partner up with the new Aldi store should email aldi@neighbourly.com.  

The new store is located at Abbey Road, Neath, SA10 7BR and will be open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 10pm, and on Sunday’s from 10am to 4pm.

(Lead image: Olympian Sam Cross with Store Manager Geraint Davies and Aldi team members at Aldi’s New store opening at Neath Abbey)

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