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Knelston schoolchildren join beach clean to celebrate Port Eynon beach becoming smoke free

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Local school children from Knelston Primary have joined a beach clean to celebrate Port Eynon joining a Smoke-free campaign.

The campaign encourages visitors to not smoke on the beach via a voluntary smoke-free initiative, which seeks to reduce cigarette litter and protect the environment.

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The campaign was launched by ASH Cymru, a health organisation that raises awareness around the harms of tobacco in Wales. Port Eynon is Swansea’s third beach to join the voluntary initiative, which will be sign-posted at the beach’s main entrances.

The campaign has been welcomed by local school children, who have joined ASH Cymru and Swansea Council in a beach clean. The clean has been organised to raise awareness of the environmental harms of cigarettes litter, in a bid to protect the coastline for future generations to come.

Cigarette butts remain a big problem in Wales, with the latest Marine Conservation Society survey revealing that Welsh beaches held the highest amount of cigarette butt litter in Great Britain.

The survey found an average of 64.2 cigarette butts per 100 metres of Welsh beach in 2021, a stark rise from 9.5 in 2020, and 32.6 in 2019.

On a global scale 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are discarded each year, making cigarette butts one of the most littered items on earth.

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Cigarette butts take up to 12 years to breakdown and as they do they leach nicotine and heavy metals before turning into microplastic pollution. In addition, studies examining the toxicity of cigarette butts have found them to contain approximately 4000 harmful chemicals, which can ultimately seep into the environment.

Research has shown that one cigarette butt left to soak in water for 96 hours will release enough toxins to kill half of the salt and freshwater fish that are exposed to it.

In addition to environmental benefits, research has shown that smoke-free spaces can reduce exposure to second-hand smoke, and can have a positive influence on social norms. In light of this, ASH Cymru believe that the new smoke-free initiative will create an environment that is safer and ultimately cleaner for visitors.

ASH Cymru’s CEO Suzanne Cass commended the local school’s involvement, marking how children can help shape a greener society.

She said: “We are delighted that local children recognise the importance of protecting the environment, which in turn will aid wider efforts to create a healthier and greener Wales.

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“It is ultimately our children who will reap the benefits of today’s initiative. Our efforts now can hold a big impact for their future”.

Mr Philip Jenkins, Headteacher of Knelston Primary, highlighted the importance of educating children about the harms of cigarettes.

He said: “It is important that we voice that cigarettes can not only harm our health, but can also harm our natural surroundings.

“Our children will go on to be the next custodians of Wales, and we must educate them for this responsibility. It is up to us to ensure that our children become ethically informed citizens of not only Wales, but also the world”.

To date, Langland Bay, Caswell Bay and Little Haven in Pembrokeshire have joined the ASH Cymru Smoke-free Beach campaign. It is thought that the addition of Port Eynon, one of the Gower peninsula’s most popular sites, will encourage other beach authorities to take similar green steps.

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A spokesperson from Swansea Council said: “The Council fully supports initiatives to protect the coastline for future generations to come.

“We hope the voluntary initiative will encourage visitors to take the small steps needed to make a big difference in protecting our local environment”.

On a national scale, the Welsh Government has recently committed to reducing the environmental impact of smoking. The commitment was recently relayed in the new Tobacco Control Strategy for Wales, which aims to create a healthier smoke-free nation by 2030.

Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle, is overseeing the new strategy, and praised the roll-out of the new Smoke-free initiative.

She said: “It is great to see so many young people involved in today’s beach clean, and in turn support the new initiative.

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“As I’ve highlighted in the foreword to the new Tobacco Control Strategy for Wales, we must all come together to help limit the harmful effects of smoking. Initiatives such as this bring us one step closer to becoming a healthier and more environmentally conscious nation”.

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Environment

Cadle Heath is alive with the sound of critters

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From endangered bats to moths, beetles and unusual critters, a Swansea suburb is giving locals an opportunity to discover exactly what’s living on their doorstep.

The Cadle Heath BioBlitz event funded by the Swansea Nature Partnership on Saturday, May 14, is a day packed with scavenger hunts, guided walks, opportunities to learn about the wildflowers, bugs birds, reptiles and mammals and help to gather important nature data by recording the unusual species living in this urban heath.

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This nature reserve is one of Swansea’s best kept secrets and stretches from behind Swansea Community Farm on Carmarthen Road, to popular shopping-destination, Pontarddulais Road Retail Park.

The event, which is organised by Swansea Community Farm, South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre and Penderi Green Regeneration project, will take place between 10am and 3pm at the farm. Followed by a bat walk at 8.30pm, giving people the chance to listen for the elusive, red-listed, Lesser Horseshoe Bat in its natural habitat.

Kate McCabe from Pobl, leading on the Penderi Green Regeneration Project, said: “This is an exciting event for us. Cadle Heath is one of the best examples of urban heathland in the country and we are proud to have such a rich, exciting space for nature in the heart of Swansea’s Penderi region. The fact that the heath is home to a red-listed bat species is something we should be really proud of and something we should protect and celebrate.”

“Cadle is in such a highly populated part of Swansea that it is often overlooked, and people don’t often realise the hidden haven that exists for local wildlife. This family-friendly event will really bring the area to life, giving people a unique opportunity to really explore the area with the guidance of passionate scientists and nature experts.”

Katharine Aylett, from Swansea Community Farm, said: “We are proud to be hosting such an important and exciting event for the area, and to be partners of Pobl’s Penderi Green Regeneration Project. At Swansea Community Farm, we know the positive effect activities like this have on the community and local wildlife; it’s about raising awareness of the natural world and bringing people together, outdoors. 

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“The Penderi Green Regeneration Project itself, is vital to the area and is already having a clear impact on this part of Swansea. We’re looking forward to working with them on future events and initiatives.”

The Penderi Green Regeneration Project is an initiative to support local people in their desire to improve green spaces in their area which will help boost health and wellbeing. Through a series of physical and educational opportunities, the initiative will bring the wider neighbourhood together to regenerate green spaces in the Penderi area of Swansea.

Funded by UK Government, under the Community Renewal Fund (CRF), Pobl Group is able to deliver the Project with the help of key partners, Swansea Environment Centre, Room To Grow and the Conservation Team at Swansea Council.

For more information on the free event, visit: www.swanseacommunityfarm.org.uk

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Environment

First Minister celebrates 10 years of the Wales Coast Path

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The First Minister will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Wales Coast Path with a visit to meet volunteers and walkers.

A year long programme of events and activities celebrating the Wales Coast Path will take place throughout 2022, including walking festivals, virtual challenges and art installations.

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Since its opening in 2012, the Wales Coast Path has established itself as a beacon of our nation’s natural beauty.

The 870 mile path guides walkers along Wales’ picturesque coastline, weaving its way past a hundred beaches and sixteen castles.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The coastal path is one of the crowning glories of Wales and one of the proudest achievements of devolution.

“I would like to thank all those involved in the management of the path. Particularly the staff and volunteers, who are out in all weathers, working hard to maintain the path to such high standards.

“If I had to choose my favourite stretch of the path, the portion between Pendine and Amroth would be a candidate: starting in my own home county of Carmarthenshire, and ending in Pembrokeshire. It may not be the most well-known part of the path, but it offers huge variety: some challenging climbs, outstanding variety of flowers, secret coves and plenty of historical interest”.

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The Welsh Government will build on the successes of the first ten years so that more people are able to enjoy the path, from more backgrounds, more easily, and with more benefits for local communities, businesses and the environment.

The Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS, asked Huw Irranca-Davies, MS for Ogmore to undertake a review of the Wales Coast Path.

A small group, drawn from academia and the public, private and voluntary sectors was established to undertake the review.

The Group reflected on the key achievements over the last decade and identified how to maximise opportunities for the future.

Their report has been published on the Welsh Government website today (11 May).

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The review recognises the potential value and challenges of the Wales Coast Path. It contains 19 recommendations for the Welsh Government to consider when developing its future strategic approach to the path.

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Dyfed Powys Police

Man banned from driving for 12 months for fishing offence

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A man from Merthyr Tydfil who travelled to the River Loughor, near Llanelli to fish using a barbaric and illegal method, has been banned from driving for 12 months as part of his sentence.

Vu Quang Tien pleaded guilty to an illegal fishing charge and also to a charge of obstruction of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Fisheries Enforcement Officer on 26 April at Swansea Magistrates Court.

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Mr Tien and two other anglers were witnessed by NRW Fisheries Enforcement Officers deliberately using the illegal foul hooking method of fishing – also known as snatching – at the river Loughor on 15 August 2021. NRW officers attended the site after several reports of illegal fishing were made to NRW’s 24/7 incident call centre by concerned members of the community.

When approached and questioned by NRW officers, Mr Tien and his accomplices showed significant hostility and reluctance to share identification documents which eventually had to be extracted by use of reasonable force.

All of Mr Tien’s fishing tackle and fish, along with his associates’ fishing tackle was seized by NRW Officers at the time of the incident. The district judge on the day at Swansea Magistrates Court gave permission to NRW to confiscate these items permanently from each of them.

The District Judge disqualified Mr Tien from driving for 12 months due to seriousness of the incident, and the premeditated and deliberate action of travelling such a distance to commit the offence.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £2,334 in fines, NRW costs and a victim surcharge.

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Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “We would like to again thank Dyfed Powys Police, the local communities and also the law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities.

“Foul hooking is a truly barbaric form of fishing carried out by a small minority of anglers in Wales, who have no regard for fish welfare.

“NRW and the Police take these incidents seriously as do the courts.

“Hopefully, the small minority of anglers who may in future, think of using any illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines and driving ban in this case issued by the courts.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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