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Energy saving consultancy helps leisure firm reduce carbon footprint

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Almost 500 tonnes of carbon a year have been saved thanks to energy-saving measures at Swansea leisure facilities.

Freedom Leisure, the not-for-profit charitable leisure trust which operates leisure centres in Swansea as well as dozens of other local authorities across the UK, has been working in partnership with an energy saving consultancy to deliver a number of projects to minimise the environmental impact of its leisure centres.

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Award winning consultancy and industry leader, Leisure Energy has been supporting the not-for-profit organisation with projects across the UK.

Amongst recent projects was a programme of energy saving measures implemented
across the community leisure facilities in Swansea, South Wales.

Operated by Freedom Leisure, on behalf of Swansea Council, the facilities have benefitted from significant energy savings and a reduction in carbon of almost 500 tonnes per year. This is equivalent to taking 100 cars off the road per year or saving the entire energy use of an average house for almost 40 years.

This success is being replicated across the Freedom Leisure group, with the organisation
able to reduce its carbon emissions by 841 tonnes (CO2) and also reduce both its gas (-
5.1%) and electricity usage (-9.2%) during 2019-20. However, the organisation is now
looking to boost these efforts even further.

The recent award winning project at The Stour Centre, Ashford, is testimony to this. The
carbon reduction project at the Freedom Leisure centre was delivered with support from
the Public Sector Decarbonisation Grant and will result in carbon emissions being halved
at the centre. The project has been recognised with multiple industry awards, including
Energy Managers Association: Energy Management Consultancy Partnership 2021; and
New Civil Engineer: Best Use of Technology: Carbon Reduction (TechFest 2021).

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The LC is one of the leisure centres in Swansea to have benefitted from the energy reduction programme (Image: Freedom leisure)

Working on behalf of Freedom Leisure, Leisure Energy have played an instrumental role
in the delivery and success of these projects.

Neil Bland, Managing Director – Leisure Energy said: “Leisure energy have been working with Freedom leisure for about 6 years, helping with their energy efficiency, sustainability and decarbonisation pledges. We recently helped Freedom Leisure reduce the carbon footprint of the community leisure facilities in Swansea by nearly 500 tonnes per year. Our most recent project has also won two prestigious awards for decarbonisation, again – showing that Freedom Leisure are at the forefront of carbon reduction in the Leisure sector.”

Ivan Horsfall-Turner, Chief Executive Officer of Freedom Leisure added: “Minimising environmental impact is a priority for Freedom Leisure right across our organisation. We are totally committed to being socially and environmentally aware, delivering a sustainable service for local communities – the success and recognition of these recent projects in Swansea and Ashford are testimony to that.”

Freedom Leisure say that these awards follow the recent appointment of a new Sustainability and Environmental Manager. Angela Brown was recently appointed to the newly created
role in a bid to secure its commitment towards a greener future. Brown has joined the
Senior Leadership Team and Freedom Leisure say she will play a key role in driving the sustainability and environmental efforts at all levels across the group.

(Lead image: Freedom Leisure)

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Environment

The Welsh National Survey for Otters shows partial decline of otter populations in Wales

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Natural Resources Wales, Cardiff University and a host of volunteers have repeated the Welsh National Survey for Otters for the first time since 2010.

Using the same methods as previous surveys to ensure results were comparable, a total of 1073 sites were visited, with signs of otters found at 756 sites, showing a substantive decline in their populations for the first time since the 1970s, from around 90% occupancy in 2010 to 70% in 2015 to 2018.

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Reasons for the decline are unclear and further work is planned by NRW and CU to investigate likely reasons for this.

Dr Eleanor Kean, who led the research for the Cardiff University Otter Project, said: “Cardiff University Otter Project (CUOP) surveyed national survey sites across six river catchments and noted a decline in otter signs. Natural Resources Wales collaborated with us to organise surveys of the remaining sites across Wales to complete a sixth Otter Survey of Wales, with the help of volunteer surveyors.

“Declines were not universal, with the worst affected regions being the Conwy, Loughor, and Teifi catchments. Smaller declines were evident on most other catchments, while only a few, such as the Severn, seemed to have stable populations”.

Liz Halliwell, Team Leader for Terrestrial Ecosystems and Species at NRW said: “Monitoring otter population status is important with respect to conservation of this much-loved mammal. As well as this, as top predator of our freshwaters, the otter can be an important biological indicator of the health of our rivers and wetlands.

“In Wales as in much of the UK, the otter is a largely nocturnal animal and is rarely observed in the wild, but it is possible to detect its presence by searching for its distinctive droppings – spraints- and footprints.

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“Otter populations across Britain have been gradually recovering from significant declines in the 1970s. The clear message from this report is that we cannot be complacent about the ongoing recovery of the otter in the UK. To understand the reasons for the decline, we are working with otter and freshwater habitat experts to review the situation.  We also have an extensive River Restoration Programme in development which will bring benefits to many riparian species including otters.”

The Mammal Society, Environment Agency and Natural England, with support from a number of water companies, will be initiating the sixth national otter survey of England in 2022. 

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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Environment

Recycled paint tins turned into bench for housing association’s haven scheme

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Neath Port Talbot housing association, Tai Tarian’s paint suppliers Crown Paints have donated a bench with a difference to a Haven scheme in Crynant, made entirely out of recycled paint cans!

While the housing association recycle their paint tins with Derwen Recyling in Neath, Crown have their own ‘Can Back’ scheme allowing all paint tins returned to the business to be recycled.

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The nationwide service has saved an estimated 8000 tonnes of paint cans from going to landfill by turning them into outdoor benches, planters or picnic tables, to be enjoyed in local communities.

Playing their part in a sustainable planet is a big priority for Tai Tarian so being gifted a bench transformed from recycled materials for Llwynon residents is fantastic.

As an added bonus the bench is located in the scheme’s biodiverse garden space, the pride and joy of many of the residents.

Esther Harris Operations Manager at Tai Tarian said: “After being customers for many years we were delighted when Crown asked us to nominate a community space that could benefit from one of their recycled benches.

The pandemic has been particularly tough for our Haven residents with their communal areas closed until quite recently. Their wonderful garden space is a real community hub at the scheme so the bench will enhance that outdoor area, allow them to socialise together and improve wellbeing.”

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Glen Cooper, Specification Technical manager at Crown added: “Crown Paints have always been proud to be a strategic supply partner to Tai Tarian and that our recycled plastic benches are a physical representation of the commitment that both businesses have to Sustainability, also people can actually use and see the commitment and effort both businesses have on recycling. The placing of this bench in a communal garden space adds the dimension of wellbeing into the environmental mix. The benches have a lifespan far in excess of a traditional timber product and we hope many people will use it to enjoy being in the fresh air for decades to come.”

(Lead image: Tai Tarian)

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Environment

Government to give free tree to every household in Wales to tackle climate change

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Every household in Wales will be offered a free tree to plant as part of the Welsh Government’s commitment to tackle climate change, Deputy Minister Lee Waters promised today.

The bold new policy will give people the chance to choose a tree of their own to plant or opt to have a tree planted on their behalf.

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Speaking at a visit to a major Coed Cadw woodland creation project in Neath during National Tree Week, the Deputy Minister for Climate Change confirmed the Welsh Government had partnered with the Woodland Trust to deliver the campaign.

The first trees will be available to collect from March, from one of five regional community hubs that will be established. The Welsh Government aims to set up a further 20 hubs across wales by October 2022.

Earlier this year, the Deputy Minister for Climate Change led a deep dive exercise into tree planting and timber, which identified a set of actions the Welsh Government needed to take forward to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change.

The Deputy Minister said: “Trees are amazing – they save lives by keeping our air clean, they improve people’s physical and mental health, they are essential for tackling our nature emergency, improving biodiversity and, of course, in tackling climate change.

“The deep dive made it clear to me that everyone will have a part to play if we are to be successful in tackling climate change and realising our ambitions to create a National Forest for Wales.

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“I am therefore pleased to announce we have partnered with the Woodland Trust to deliver a campaign that will provide every household in Wales an opportunity to plant a free tree in Wales.

“This will enable people in Wales to further understand and experience the many benefits that trees can provide, not only to the environment but also to people’s health and wellbeing.”

The Deputy Minister made it clear that everyone in Wales could benefit from the campaign.

“We understand that not all households will be able to plant a tree themselves, but will still be keen to get involved,” he explained.

“That is why we will make an option available to ‘plant a tree for me’, which will allow for people to opt to have a free tree planted on their behalf at locations across Wales via the community hubs and volunteers.

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“Instruction and guidance, including the location of community hubs near you and how to claim your tree, will soon be available through various information webpages but also locally on the ground via a network of volunteers in every area.”

Natalie Buttriss, Coed Cadw Director said, “We are delighted to be working with the Welsh Government in this great community tree giveaway to get thousands of native trees in the ground.

“While tree-planting is only one way to help tackle climate change, it is a simple and enjoyable way for every single person in Wales to have the chance to plant a tree and watch it grow.

“This project will be open to all types of people living in Wales and we hope it will inspire many individuals and local community groups to become involved. We want people from all backgrounds to be part of planting the National Forest for Wales.”

The Deputy Minister also revealed that a consultation would launch early in 2022 on plans to create a National Forest for Wales.

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