Swansea Council is seeking to be the first Welsh council to receive accreditation for the work it’s doing to reduce its overall ecological footprint.
As well as decarbonisation, this covers buildings, travel, land use and waste as well as biodiversity and the impact on natural resources.
Alongside other councils, the race is on to be assessed for the new Welsh Government-endorsed One Planet Standard.
This helps organisations create a road map towards net zero carbon with necessary targets and metrics to keep them on their journey.
Andrea Lewis, Swansea Council’s joint deputy leader and cabinet member for climate change and service transformation, is due to speak at COP26 today.
She will be on an expert panel alongside: Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner; Jaco Marais from the Good Governance Institute; Paul Bridle, CEO of Assessment Services; Seb Wood, managing director of Whitby Wood; plus David Thorpe and Virginia Isaac, from the One Planet Centre.
The session is being live streamed from Glasgow and can be viewed on the COP26 You Tube channel.
Cllr Lewis said: “It’s important to have measurable standards and an independent set of eyes making sure that we don’t have gaps in things that we should be focusing on.
“We’ve made a commitment to reach net zero as a council by 2030. We hope that across Swansea we reach net zero by 2050. But this is about changing behaviours, winning hearts and minds, bringing businesses, bringing the public along with us and of course engaging our staff.”
The Standard’s developer, and One Planet Centre CIC founder-director, David Thorpe, will say: “The One Planet Standard helps organisations of all types combat climate change and improve biodiversity by adjusting the complete impacts of their activities.
“The One Planet Standard will assist organisations to use integrated reporting to account for the progress they are making towards achieving the 17 UN sustainability goals.”
The One Planet Standard is supported by many of the top environmentalists in Wales, a nation recognised as a world leader in this field, and by the Welsh Future Generations Commissioner, Sophie Howe, who said: “The Standard aligns and builds on my existing advice in the area of decarbonisation and enhancing nature resilience, and it can help not only the public sector but all organisations in Wales with practical actions towards meeting carbon emission and biodiversity targets.
“The Standard centres around the five ways of working and promotes long-term thinking; it is an easy-to-understand and useful tool that can help address the climate and nature emergencies, prevent the disaster we are currently heading towards and help ensure the well-being of our future generations and the planet.”
Deep in the former coal valleys of South Wales, forged by the finest young minds in the country, a powerful new creature is emerging: Dipsy, the Eco-Cat! She is now on her way to COP26, furious with the lack of progress in the first week to tackling climate change. Dipsy is carrying a sackful of messages from Welsh school children.
How did this happen? Emily Hinshelwood, co-founder of Awel Aman Tawe, explains “I was on a zoom call with 300 children in Pembrokeshire, talking about how we managed to build our community wind farm after nearly a 20-year struggle. Dipsy, climbed on my shoulders during the zoom call and the children loved her. They asked questions about wind turbines and climate change – so I started to draw cartoons showing how Dipsy is finding out the answers.
Jen James, Education Officer for Awel Aman Tawe, said “The children in the Pembrokeshire Schools – Y Frenni, Saundersfoot, Bro Ingli and Gelli Aur really like the cartoons, and have also been drawing Dipsy themselves as part of our Energy Warriors project – this is a music, science and art project being delivered in partnership with EnergySparks, Ynni Da, Sion Tomos Owen. Mr Phormula and TTS Practical Science. We’ve also been working with Caerleon Comprehensive in Newport who’ve been similarly inspired by Dipsy.
Emily added “Wales has a long tradition of powerful cats dating from Cath Palug on Ynys Môn first mentioned in the 13th century. Palug challenged leaders – I loved that story and illustrated Jackie Morris’ beautiful words. Luckily, the messages that Dipsy is taking to COP are already being picked by our climate change policy leaders – Julie James, Welsh Government’s Minister for Climate Change and Poppy Stowell-Evans, Chair of the Youth Climate Ambassadors for Wales have both retweeted Dipsy. But other leaders at COP should bear in mind the legend of Cath Palug if they don’t act responsibly!”
The pressure is on for the politicians to deliver real commitments. Energy Warriors in Welsh schools have already worked with Egni Co-op to install solar panels and are now making further cuts to emissions in schools. Dipsy, with messages from Welsh Energy Warriors, will be on the shoulders of the leaders at COP this week…..
About Egni Co-op
Egni has installed 4.3 MWp of rooftop solar on 88 schools, community buildings and businesses across Wales. It’s now the largest rooftop solar co-op in the UK. www.egni.coop
All the sites are backed by the Feed in Tariff. Egni is refinancing our loan from the Development Bank of Wales with co-op shares as this is at 6% interest whereas co-op members invest at 4% interest. This means that there is more surplus going into climate change education projects in Welsh schools.
Here are recent films made by double BAFTA Cymru winner, Mike Harrison about the largest rooftop solar project in Wales on the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome in Newport and at Merthyr Town Football Club:
The team behind Egni Co-op have also delivered the award-winning Awel Co-op, a 4.7MW community wind farm which was commissioned in Jan 2017. It was funded by a £5.25m loan from Triodos Bank and a £3m community share offer www.awel.coop.
People and organisations who want to help Swansea tackle the climate emergency can now publicly express their aims on a new web page.
Swansea’s new online Climate Pledge Wall
Swansea Council’s online Climate Pledge Wall allows individuals and groups take a swift and simple step to tell others how they’re helping the planet.
Each online pledge from citizens of all ages, businesses, schools and community or voluntary groups will explain how the signatory is playing their part in helping Swansea become greener and carbon net zero.
The council aims to become net zero by 2030 and to make the city net zero by 2050.
Andrea Lewis, the council’s joint deputy leader and cabinet member for climate change and service transformation, said: “To really make a difference and to deliver the Swansea we want for future generations, action is needed from everyone now.
“People right around the area share our ambitions to help the planet and our pledge wall allows them all to tell others how they’re helping.
“I urge local people and groups to make their pledges online and inspire others to take positive action.
“It’s easy to do and will help the whole city become greener and more environmentally friendly at this time of climate crisis.”
Great ideas for individual pledges include changing to a 100% renewable energy supplier, reducing your amount of driving by walking or riding a bike – and shopping locally to cut emissions.
Others include cutting back on flying, reducing energy use at home and work, reusing and repairing goods rather than replacing them – and creating a space for nature in your garden if you have one.
Local businesses and community groups are also being urged to make their pledge setting how they will contribute to a net zero Swansea.
The council is already going greener and has signed a charter on climate action which makes a commitment to take action on climate change, biodiversity and nature.
It has been signed by over 50 councillors. Partners are also signing up to the Swansea Charter – they include the Swansea Council for Voluntary Services, Natural Resources Wales and the Swansea Environmental Forum.
The National Botanic Garden of Wales Regency Restoration project is this year’s Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) People’s Choice. The award recognises civil engineering projects across the globe that have made a positive impact on their local communities.
NBGW Regency Project May 2021 (c) Tim Jones Photography
The project, which took five years to complete at a cost of more than £7 million, is the largest of its kind undertaken in Wales and includes two new lakes, bridges, dams, cascades, a waterfall and an extensive network of paths, all set in 300 acres of wooded parkland.
Ed McCann, 157th ICE President, said: “What a great achievement for all involved in this project at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, which presents civil engineering in a different light – creating and restoring spaces necessary for the local communities to enjoy and promoting active living.”
Mr McCann added: “This year’s shortlisted projects all demonstrated that sustainability and innovation are at the forefront of civil engineering.”
The success of the Botanic Garden’s project involved an impressive number of members of the community across Carmarthenshire, from the council, schools and local organisations to individuals. It also promoted local procurement from the early planning stages, engaging with consultant ecologists, designers and engineers during construction.
Botanic Garden director, Huw Francis said: “We are extremely honoured that the Regency Restoration project won the ICE People’s Choice Award. It recognises the culmination of hard endeavour and highlights the fact that active lifestyles are becoming more popular within local communities. Providing green, well-designed places – such as our garden – are vital for people’s well-being and good mental health.”
NBGW Regency Project May 2021 (c) Tim Jones Photography
The project team behind this winning project included the contractor, WM Longreach, key design and project management from Mann Williams, Nicholas Pearson Partnership LLP, Caroe and Partners Architects and HR Wallingford- Reservoir Engineer.
Director of the principal contractor WM Longreach, Damian McGettrick said: “We are extremely proud to have been part of the passionate, dedicated project team that delivered the Regency Restoration and thrilled that all our efforts have been recognised internationally by the public in this way.”
This year, six shortlisted projects were in the running for the top prize during the worldwide public vote. The Award was last won in 2019 by The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) Hong Kong section project.
The National Botanic Garden of Wales would like to say a huge thank you to all our funders who have supported this project, these include The National Lottery Heritage Fund – and all those who play the National Lottery, Carmarthenshire County Council, Welsh Government, the Richard Broyd Trust, The Waterloo Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Pilgrim Trust, Country Houses Foundation, Patsy Wood Trust, the Monument Trust and the Garfield Weston Foundation.
350m dam under construction (c) WM Longreach
Bridge and crane (c) National Botanic Garden of Wales
A new delivery team has been given conditional planning approval to take forward the transformational Afan Valley leisure resort project which could create hundreds of jobs and provide significant social and environmental benefits for communities in the area.
The new team led by the Salamanca Group, a privately-held merchant banking business and home to experienced investors with a proven track record in delivery, were granted permission to progress the project to its next stages by members of Neath Port Talbot Council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday.
Now named the Wildfox Resort Afan Valley, the adventure resort will encompass a hotel, hundreds of lodges, cafes, bars and facilities for skiing, hiking, cycling and other outdoor pursuits.
Martin Bellamy, Chairman and CEO of the Salamanca Group confirmed: “We are creating a new team with the expertise, finance and capability to deliver the Wildfox Resort to achieve positive social and environmental benefits for local communities. We appreciate the complexities of this project, the frustrations and disappointments of the past and understand what is required to turn it around.”
Neath Port Talbot Council Leader, Cllr Ted Latham, said: “This is an exciting proposal with potentially huge benefits for our residents in the Afan Valley and for the County Borough as a whole.”
Peter Moore, who developed Center Parcs in the UK, said: “I am delighted to be working with the new team to bring this project forward and remain passionate about the potential of the resort.”
Karen Jones Chief Executive of Neath Port Talbot Council, added: ‘The council has been working with the applicant and their agents for some time to ensure sufficient information was submitted to enable the council’s Planning Committee to thoroughly assess the proposed development. As part of this process, officers have been providing advice and guidance and I now look forward to working with the new delivery team to ensure benefits associated with the proposed development are maximised and potential impacts minimised.”
The planning committee’s resolution follows a period of uncertainty after the original decision to grant planning permission in March 2019, including significant matters of concern raised in the national press and on television concerning a director of Afan Valley Ltd.
The company subsequently went into administration, but with the support of Council Members and Officers, positive discussions with Peter Moore and Duff and Phelps (who were appointed administrators and interim managers of the leisure resort project) led to the submission of the new business plan, and at its Tuesday meeting, the council’s planning committee passed a further, final resolution confirming it was content the Wildfox Resort Afan Valley development is deliverable.
Neath Port Talbot Council’s Bay Technology Centre, sited on one of Wales’s premier business parks in the heart of South Wales, is on schedule to be completed in December of this year.
The £7.9m three-storey office and laboratory space, located at the M4-side Baglan Energy Park in Port Talbot, will host different size units for start-up companies, indigenous businesses and inward investors looking for a base to set up and grow their operations.
The centre, being built by contractors Morgan Sindall Construction, will offer 2,500 square metres of mixed use space for flexible office and laboratory work as well as a reception area and spectacular atrium on the first floor.
Innovative design and use of materials, including specialist photovoltaic panels made to look like cladding, will provide a sustainable building which is energy positive. The design also means the ‘thermal mass’ of exposed precast floor slabs can store and transfer heat from the building providing a cost effective heating solution.
Outside will be a new car park for staff and office users, as well as a cycle shed to encourage use of environmentally friendly transport methods. Landscaping will also be carried out to install a mix of grass and wildflowers to the site. Following ecological assessment, construction has been timed to avoid disrupting local wildlife and ensure the site’s biodiversity is protected.
The initiative has been part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Welsh Government and UK Government through the recently approved £58.7m Supporting Innovation and Low Carbon Growth Programme, part of the £1.8bn Swansea Bay City Deal regional investment project.
Neath Port Talbot has an increasing number of ongoing developments being progressed supporting Innovation and Low Carbon Growth, including SPECIFIC, (an innovation and knowledge centre), the Hydrogen Research Centre, The Flexible Integrated Energy Systems Project (FLEXIS) and the TWI Technology Centre (Wales).
The area has strong links with and access to academia (at HE and FE level), with a number of established innovation research centres with national and international links, specialising in hydrogen, energy systems, life sciences and manufacturing; covering a range of areas from composites, propulsion, material engineering, training and skills, metallurgy and coatings, and, state of the art non-destructive testing (NDT) methods with cutting-edge inspection technologies.
The Bay Technology Centre comprises:
Ample car parking.
Easy access to M4, road, air, sea and rail networks.
High-specification security access system.
Access to on-site conference facilities, meetings rooms and break-out areas.
NPT Council economic development support, for networking, growth and investment.
Innovative ecosystem with collaborative space.
Energy positive design.
Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainable Development, Cllr Annette Wingrave, said: “We are close to completing a state-of-the-art, hybrid building the design of which ties in perfectly with the council’s Decarbonisation and Renewable Energy (DARE) Strategy for a cleaner, greener future for everyone.
“We look forward to working closely with start-ups, indigenous businesses, inward investors and others looking to move into the Bay Technology Centre.”