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Carmarthenshire

Vehicle charging hub, a first of its kind in Wales

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A new electric vehicle charging hub, a first of its kind in Wales, is soon to be opened in Cross Hands.

The superfast charging hub is located off the A48 and will provide four 50KW rapid chargers and one 150KW super rapid charger.

The chargers are supported by photovoltaic cells which will provide a source of clean energy and help reduce draw from the national grid.

The project is funded through the Welsh Government’s Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle Fund.

This latest scheme is part of Carmarthenshire County Council’s ongoing efforts to support sustainability as it works towards becoming a net zero carbon local authority by 2030.

The council has already installed 28 fast charging points across the county with a further 15 being added by the end of March next year.

Last week the council launched a new campaign Prosiect Zero Sir Gâr to coincide with COP26 – a global summit for climate action – which shines a spotlight on efforts being made to become carbon neutral.

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Investing in infrastructure to support sustainable travel is just one of the initiatives the council has underway to support its efforts to tackle climate change.

The council intends to build on its work to date, ten years ago the council became the first local authority in Wales to introduce electric pool car vehicles for staff to use.

Six years ago the current fleet of refuse and gritter lorries were renewed and the council procured Euro VI vehicles with reduced emissions technology which were the most advanced at the time.

As these vehicles fall due for replacement the council is trialling electric powered bin lorries for future use. Changes have also been made to refuse collection routes to reduce vehicle mileage.

Next year, working in partnership with the Wales Government and Transport for Wales, the council hopes to introduce electric buses on the Traws Cymru Carmarthen to Aberystwyth bus route.

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Some smaller scale projects have also been developed to support more sustainable travel including Carmarthen Bus Station which has a fully operational Bike Hire Dock with eight folding bikes. Two further locations will be operational before Christmas at Burry Port and Llanelli.

The council has also recently installed eight eBike charging locations at Carmarthen Leisure Centre, Amman Valley Leisure Centre, Llandovery Leisure Centre, Pembrey Country Park, Eastgate and the Beacon in Llanelli, Pendine Trip Attractor and St Catherine’s Walk with facilities to securely store bikes. These will be available shortly.

Five Taxi eBikes for children with limited mobility have also been installed in primary schools across the county and 12 eCargo Bikes will soon be available free of charge to businesses across the county.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Hazel Evans, said: “The number of electric vehicles on our roads is increasing year on year and we need to ensure that drivers have access that is convenient and reliable. We remain committed to supporting the development of high quality, reliable EV infrastructure to the residents and visitors of Carmarthenshire and have recently produced an EV Charging Infrastructure Strategy that will allow us to plan and set targets for the next 10 years.”

Cllr Evans added that the council is continuing to pull out all the stops to progressing its commitment to sustainable travel.

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“We are working closely with partners and Welsh Government to identify new areas where extra provision will prove beneficial, not just along the strategic road network, but also inclusive of destination charging and for specific initiatives such as the ‘Ten Towns’. Our eBikes are intended to support more sustainable travel in our town centres, as well as reducing carbon emissions and improving the air quality of town centres this will contribute to improved road safety and a reduction in vehicular traffic. And we are already making better use of out of technology by allowing staff to work from home and meet online to reduce the need for travel.”

Cllr Ann Davies, Cabinet Member for climate change said investing in sustainable travel plays a significant part in the authority’s efforts to tackle climate change. She said: “We have to look at our whole approach, so for electric vehicle use to grow, the infrastructure needs to be in place. We have achieved so much already but recognise that we have much more to do – that’s why we have launched Prosiect Zero Sir Gâr to galvanise our efforts and ensure everyone plays a part in helping us achieve net carbon zero.”

Lead image: Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Hazel Evans (Image: Carmarthenshire Council

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Carmarthen

Mother gifts toys to children’s wards in memory of lifesaving son

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The family of a patient who passed away in Morriston Hospital has donated a collection of toys to the children’s wards to help keep his memory alive.

But the presents are nothing compared to the gift of life that has resulted from the deceased being an organ donor.

Marc Leach passed away on 5th May, of this year, in Morriston Hospital, following a period in critical care.

The 25-year-old, who worked as a chef in a Carmarthen restaurant, leaves behind a 5-year-old son, Lincoln.

On what would have been his 26th birthday, his family and friends met up at Marc’s place of work where the idea of keeping his memory alive for his son was hatched.

Marc’s mother, Michelle Francis, said: “On his birthday this year, on 18 November, we all got together and decided to do a toy drive for the children’s ward in Morriston, to give them new toys.

“Marc has an amazing little boy called Lincoln, who is the spitting image of his daddy. I wanted to keep my son’s memory alive so that his own son would never forget him.

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“Next year we are going to do a donor drive and raise money for mental health services.”

Marc Leach (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

When it became apparent that Marc would not survive his mother spoke to members of the organ donation team.

Michelle said: “Marc had told us he wanted to be a donor. Because his uncle had benefitted from receiving a kidney in the past, he wanted to give back.

“I’m also a registered donor, I was supposed to give one of my kidneys to my brother but a donor came up instead.”

Although the recipients of donated organs remain confidential Michelle has been told that her son’s decision has already helped save lives.

She said: “His kidneys have gone to two people, his liver has gone to another. I believe he has saved three or four people.”

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It is a bittersweet thought for Michelle.

“I’m chuffed to bits that he has saved lives but I wish he was still here as he would have only been 26 this year.”

Calling on everyone to at least have a conversation on the subject of donations, she said: “We don’t need our organs when we die but there are people out there who do need them. They are just going to waste.”

Michelle thanked those who looked after her son in his final days.

“The nurses and doctors in intensive care laughed with us and they cried with us. They were absolutely amazing.

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“They were part of the family in the end. They knew a lot about Marc from listening us talking about what he was like and what he got up to.”

Kathryn Gooding (pictured top with Marc’s mother, Michelle Francis), Swansea Bay UHB specialist nurse organ donation, said: “Organ donation really does save and improve the lives of others.

“Thanks to Marc’s donation and the bravery of his family to support the decision other lives were saved.”

Of the presentation of toys to the hospital she said: “This initiative is a lovely way of remembering Marc and his generous gift of life and hopefully to bring a smile to the children who will benefit from the toy drive.”

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Carmarthen

Extra free parking days for Llanelli, Llandeilo and Carmarthen during the festive season

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Carmarthenshire shoppers are being encouraged to use free parking days and support local businesses in the run up to Christmas.

Carmarthenshire County Council has approved requests from Llanelli, Llandeilo and Carmarthen town councils to allocate free parking days throughout December for events.

Towns across Carmarthenshire are offered five free parking days to use as they wish from January to November every year, but the council’s Cabinet has agreed to requests from some towns to extend these into December.

In Llanelli the free parking days are December 4, 11 and 18; in Carmarthen they are Dec 5, 12 and 19 and in Llandeilo they are Dec 4, 11, 18.

These are in addition to the usual free parking periods in our short stay car parks already running throughout the year in Carmarthenshire towns.

The free parking days coincides with the launch of the first ever Christmas pop up shops as part of Carmarthenshire County Council’s 100% Sir Gâr initiative as a way of supporting local businesses to recover from a long period of lockdown and restrictions on retail.

The free pop up shops are located at the former Debenhams in Carmarthen and number 1 Stepney Street (next door to Andrew Price Hairdresser) and are open up until Christmas.

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Carmarthenshire County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Hazel Evans said: “We know how difficult the past year has been for our local businesses and that is why we have agreed to allow the three main towns to use their annual free parking day allocations during December if they wanted to as this month is usually excluded. We hope as many people as possible will take advantage of these extra days and support the pop up shops and our local town centre businesses during the festive season.”

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Carmarthenshire

Scrub removal at Pembrey will improve dunes for biodiversity say environment body

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Scrub provides a splash of greenery in our sandy spaces, but too much scrub smothers the sand dunes and has a devastating effect on the specialist plants and invertebrates which live there according to Natural Resources Wales

This winter the Welsh environment body will be removing non-native, invasive plant species from areas of dune at Pembrey to help wildlife thrive.

The coast around Pembrey is home to 20% of all the plants in Wales and features a large sand dune system. Sand dunes are listed as the habitat type most at risk of biodiversity loss in Europe.

The Dynamic Dunescapes project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and delivered in Wales by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), is working at Pembrey with Carmarthenshire County Council’s Outdoor Recreation Service to improve the condition of these dunes for wildlife.

Some non-native plant species, like the dense scrub plant sea buckthorn, are invasive and they are growing quickly in this dune system – spreading further across large areas of dune each year. Many of the dunes’ rare and specialist wildlife needs bare sand or low grassland habitat to survive and gets lost under or outcompeted by scrub. If scrub growth is not controlled, it will cause species like lizards, orchids and dune pansies to suffer and disappear from our sand dunes.

Scrub removal in specifically chosen locations will help to restore the habitat types that these species need, and this work will play a part in ensuring the dunes at Pembrey have a healthy, biodiverse future. Improving the ecological condition here will increase this coastal landscape’s resilience to other threats, such as extreme weather events and changing conditions brought on by climate change in the future.

The first phase of this work is to take place in Pembrey Country Park around Car Park 8 and the second will take place on the foredunes in front of the Welsh Government Woodland Estate which is managed by NRW. It is scheduled to begin in the last week of November and will last for two weeks. There will be a temporary closure of Factory Road outside the Country Park for one week – reopening on 5th December.

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Ruth Harding, Senior Environment Officer at Natural Resources Wales, said: “Sea Buckthorn control is important to improve the dune grassland habitats at Pembrey. Carmarthenshire County Council and Natural Resources Wales have carried out this type of habitat management over a number of years which has resulted in restoring the area to a dune grassland rich with different species of plants. You can best enjoy this during the summer months within the Pembrey Burrows and Saltings Local Nature Reserve. As part of Dynamic Dunescapes, we are now continuing this work, which will result in an overall increase in dune grassland habitat.”

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for leisure, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said: “Whilst scrub is a valuable habitat it does need management to maintain it in good condition for wildlife. Cutting back the scrub will ensure it does not spread into areas where is not wanted and or where it can destroy other habitat.”

Dynamic Dunescapes is not the only project working to restore Pembrey’s important sand dunes. The EU LIFE-funded Sands of LIFE project, managed by (NRW), has also been undertaking sand dune management to improve conditions for wildlife in recent years. The two projects work closely to build on and support each other’s work.

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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