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£1.3m environmental project given green light

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A £1.3 MILLION project that promises to boost the well-being of Welsh people, plants and pollinators has been given the green light.

‘Biophilic Wales’ is being led by the National Botanic Garden of Wales and funded by Welsh Government’s Enabling Natural Resources and Well-being Grant.

The main delivery partners in the project are Swansea Bay University Health Board, Natural Resources Wales and Swansea University.

The overall aim of Biophilic Wales is to increase the well-being of people, biodiversity and the environment, throughout Wales, using three interconnected work packages: Inspiring Spaces, Grasslands for Life and Plants for People.

It will result in: the ‘greening’ of vital, outdoor spaces, in places where people can benefit from them the most; the protection and improvement of our most beautiful grassland landscapes; and the celebration of Wales’ natural heritage by protecting some of our most endangered plants.

Top of the project’s hit-list are sites surrounding hospitals, health-centres and mental health facilities, run by Swansea Bay University Health Board – one of the key partners in the project.

The Botanic Garden’s Head of Science and Biophilic Wales lead, Dr Natasha de Vere, said: “We will increase access, biodiversity value and create vital wildlife habitats. We will create inspirational green spaces for people to connect with and benefit from the natural environment. The work we do will be used to develop models that can be applied throughout Wales.”

As Chair of Swansea University Health Board, Professor Andrew Davies has been one of the key figures behind the project.

Professor Davies, who has recently retired from the role, said: “I am delighted with this news, which has grown out of the unique partnership created between Swansea Bay University Health Board and the National Botanic Garden Wales.

“It will bring huge benefits to the well-being of patients and staff, as well as the wider communities, through an increased engagement with the natural world.

“As the first health board in Wales to be awarded Green Flag status, Swansea Bay is very committed to working with nature and developing green infrastructure on its land and many sites, including its hospitals.

“It is well known that engaging with the natural environment helps improve people’s well-being, their quality of life and also helps recovery after illness.”

The ‘Inspiring Spaces’ element of the project will see a transformation of under-used outdoor areas into spaces that are full of wildlife, where people can enjoy and be restored by the natural world.

An army of community groups and volunteers will be recruited to deliver this and all aspects of the work – and they will continue to champion the cause after the project is finished.

Under the heading of ‘Grasslands For Life’, Dr Andrew Lucas, of Natural Resources Wales, says: “This project will revolutionise how we monitor grasslands, enabling us to manage, restore and create sites that maximise biodiversity and ecosystem resilience. We will use innovative soil DNA barcoding to determine the entire biosphere of grasslands, including plants, animals, fungi and microbes.”

This part of the project will focus on grasslands throughout Wales, ranging from amenity grasslands within the Swansea Bay University Health Board estate, colliery spoil sites, to conservation grasslands in national nature reserves all over Wales.

The final component – ‘Plants For People’ – will be a celebration of Wales’ natural plant heritage.

Dr de Vere said: “We will ensure that our nation’s most threatened plants and key grassland species are protected for the future by collecting seed for the National Seed Bank of Wales. We will develop approaches to ensure that Welsh-provenance seed of grassland species is available for restoration and creation projects in the future.

“This exciting project is core to the delivery of the Botanic Garden’s mission. In particular, it emphasises the social role of the Garden and further increases its contribution to the delivery of the Well-being of Future Generations Act.”

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “This project will make a major contribution to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity through collaboration between Wales’ public bodies, communities and world-class academics. It will also benefit the physical and mental well-being of our communities through increasing access to nature-rich green spaces”.

“This is exactly the kind of collective action needed to tackle the ecological emergency affecting Wales’ most precious species and habitats and shows how the intentions of the Well-being of Future Generations Act are being realised on the ground.”

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  1. peter penrose

    September 9, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    If I can’t read a story without a pop-up for Adam’s bloody Autos constantly covering the screen, they why bother to try and read your websie at all?

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Businesses fire safety advice on offer as part of Business Safety Week 2019

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MID AND WEST WALES Fire and Rescue Service are offering businesses fire safety advice as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC’s) Business Safety Week 2019.

The campaign runs from 9th – 15th September with the aim to provide those, who are responsible for businesses and public buildings, with information and advice to reduce the number of fire incidents and false alarms in the workplace, both of which impact business safety and productivity.

The week encourages all businesses to double check they have taken the steps required by law to protect their business and employees from fire. Advice will also be given on preventing arson attacks, reducing false alarms, and if needed fire safety advice for premises with sleeping accommodation.

The lead up to Christmas can be a busy time for businesses so the NFCC and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service ask people to take the opportunity now to review risk assessments and escape plans. Preparation also needs to be considered as they may take on extra stock and new or seasonal staff.

Statistics show that in Wales during 2017 – 18 there were 11,005 fires with 6,372 being deliberately set and the figure for false alarms being 14,739. From these figures, a total of 3,190 fires were recorded to be in Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service with 1,520 as deliberate and the figure for false alarms being 4,939.

David Hancock, Head of Business Fire safety, for the Mid & West Wales Fire & Rescue Service, said:“It’s vital that businesses have robust arrangements in place to protect their premises, staff and visitors and to ensure they have prepared themselves to be able to continue operating after a fire or similar event. During Business Fire Safety Week we are keen to engage with business owners and provide practical advice that will help with preparations for emergency incidents.”

Chair of NFCC’s Protection and Business Safety Committee, Mark Hardingham said: “Fire can have a devastating effect on small and medium size businesses. The NFCC is committed to supporting business and linking them to their local fire and rescue service who can help and advise them on reducing their fire risk. “We encourage business owners to get in touch with their local fire service and find out about the help available so business can flourish and support the UK economy and local community in a safe and sustainable way.”

Swansea Bay Business Fire Safety Team will be at the Village Hotel, Langdon Road, Swansea on 9th September at 10:00 until 13:00 , to give general advice on Fire Safety and information on:

• Preventing Arson
• Reducing False Alarms
• Preventing Common Causes of Business Fires and
• Protecting Sleeping Accommodation

On the morning of 11th September 2019, Carmarthenshire Business Fire Safety Team will be at Parc Pemberton, Llanelli between 10:00 and 12:30 and in Parc Trostre Retail Park, Llanelli in the afternoon between 13:00 – 16:00, to give general advice on Fire Safety and information on :-

• Preventing Arson
• Reducing False Alarms
• Preventing Common Causes of Business Fires
• Protecting Sleeping Accommodation
· Business Continuation Management
· Waste Management

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Becoming Deputy Chief Constable ‘a huge privilege’

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CLAIRE PARMENTER has been announced as the new Dyfed-Powys Police Deputy Chief Constable, describing it as a ‘huge privilege’.

DCC Parmenter, who grew up in Llanelli but now lives in Carmarthen, has worked her way through the ranks since joining the force as a PC 26 years ago.

She said: “Becoming the Deputy Chief Constable within my home force is a huge privilege for me, I hope this will inspire other officers and staff to achieve whatever they want across the service.”

Her policing career began in Ammanford in 1993, having just completed a BA (HONS) degree in Education at Cardiff.

“I was thinking of a career in teaching or policing, and decided to do my degree before making the choice,” DCC Parmenter said. “Policing was always in my heart, so when it came to it, it was an easy decision.”

As well as serving in a variety of uniform roles, DCC Parmenter has undertaken a number of secondments across UK Policing and beyond.

These include a role as national field officer with the National Policing Improvement Agency, becoming operational Chief Inspector in Avon and Somerset Police, and contributing to the national implementation of neighbourhood policing, for which she received a chief constable’s commendation.

She was promoted to Superintendent in 2010 and became lead for the Joint Emergency Services Group in Wales, leading and developing a number of blue light collaboration and resilience programmes, working closely with Fire and Rescue, Welsh Ambulance Service Trust and Welsh Government.

“I’ve always tried to look at the wider landscape of policing and how we work with partners to improve services to our communities,” she said.

“These secondments have given me exposure to different ways of working and has broadened my outlook.”

DCC Parmenter returned to uniformed policing in 2012 and took up the role of Superintendent of specialist operations.

She later took over as BCU Commander for Carmarthenshire and Powys, and later took up the post of Chief Superintendent Head of Uniformed Policing for the force.

She is an accredited Strategic Firearms and Gold Public order commander and has won a Stonewall National award for her support of LGBT staff.

A mother of two, DCC Parmenter’s drive and dedication has not only led her to become a chief officer, but has also had a positive influence on her teenage daughters.

DCC Parmenter said: “My youngest daughter is 14 and she’s also keen to join the police. It’s nice to know that she looks at my career positively and can see how policing can make a real difference.

“I’m very proud to be a chief officer in the force I am from. Being able to effect the delivery of services in my home area, and to serve people in the area I live ensuring the best possible service, is a huge privilege.”

Looking ahead, DCC Parmenter’s aims are to keep delivering across Dyfed-Powys Police, and to ensure the force continues to improve and innovate.

She added: “I know Dyfed-Powys communities and staff very well, and I think we have got all the ingredients to be an absolutely outstanding force. I look forward to being a part of the chief officer team to deliver that.

“I’m really grateful to our staff and colleagues across the force, who have supported me throughout my career.”

Chief Constable Mark Collins said: “Claire has shown outstanding commitment to our communities over many years and I am delighted to have her as my Deputy Chief Constable.”

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MP calls for ‘fair funding’ for Wales

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PLAID CYMRU Treasury Spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP, has called for a radical rethink of how the nations and regions of the UK are funded through the establishment of an independent Office for Fair Funding.

Writing in Wales on Sunday, Mr Edwards said he would propose legislation – in the form of a 10 Minute Rule Bill – in Westminster which would establish the new expert-led, independent body.

The organisation would have a statutory obligation to deliver geographic wealth convergence, as well as for deciding on funding settlements for the devolved nations and regions of the UK.

Recent international data has shown that the largest difference in economic prosperity in Europe was between Inner London, the UK’s richest region (with a regional GDP average of 614% of the EU average), and West Wales and the Valleys, the UK’s poorest (with a regional GDP 68% of the EU average).

Disputes between devolved government and Whitehall relating to how nations are regions were funded could also be resolved by the independent body, Mr Edwards suggested.

For example, the dispute over HS2’s consequences for Welsh funding could be examined by the Office.

The greater the spending on HS2 the greater the proportional fall in funding Wales will receive.

This is due to ‘comparability factors’ – the measure Westminster uses to decide how much spending by a Whitehall Government Department relates to issues that are devolved.

Scotland and Northern Ireland get a score of 100% on the HS2 comparability factor, whereas Wales gets a 0% score (as confirmed in the British Government’s Statement of Funding).

This leads to a counterintuitive scenario where, as the Department for Transport’s budget increases to meet the spending requirement of HS2, Scotland and Northern Ireland will receive corresponding uplifts in the money it receives.

Whereas Wales’s overall comparability factor will proportionally decrease, meaning Wales will receive a smaller slice of the overall funding.

This will also mean that as spending accelerates on HS2 during the construction of HS2 the proportional disadvantage for Wales increases.
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP, Jonathan Edwards said: “For decades, British Governments – red and blue alike – have tinkered around the edges of the broken economic system without challenging its fundamental problems.

“That is why, as a first step in rebalancing things, I am proposing a new law that would establish an independent Office for Fair Funding. The independent, expert-led organisation would be legally bound to deliver a fairer economic balance between the nations and regions of the UK.

“London and the south-east of England continue to act as a black hole, sucking in talent and investment from the rest of the UK. Things have got so bad that recent data has shown that the inequality between London and Wales was the worst in Europe.

“These inequalities have disfigured the UK economy to the point where we no longer have a ‘UK economy’ in any meaningful sense.

“The Office of Fair Funding is not a silver bullet. There is little hope on the horizon of a fundamental shift away from the over-centralised British State, but it could be the first step on the much-needed journey towards a fairer, more equal economy.”

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