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£4.7m funding boost for the great outdoors in Wales

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Projects to improve access to the countryside and boost the sustainability of Designated Landscapes are to receive funding of £7.2m, Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn announced today.

£4.7m has been awarded to National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) to be invested in green infrastructure such as electric vehicles, retrofitting existing buildings with energy efficiency measures, and restoring peatland and woodlands.

£100,000 has also been awarded to Pembrokeshire Coast NPA to allow them to lead on the National Landscape Partnership which will foster a closer working relationship across all Designated Landscapes in Wales. This will help ensure National Parks and AONBs are able to develop more joined-up approaches to the challenges and opportunities they have in common.

A further £1.76m has been awarded to Local Authorities to improve Wales’s network of footpaths and bridleways, making them easier to use and more accessible to all. This is in response to people rediscovering local footpaths and trails as part of their daily exercise during the recent Covid lockdown. £337,000 has also been awarded to eleven projects to improve recreational access to water and £309,000 to community orchards and allotments to support community growing projects.

The Deputy Minister made the announcement during a visit to Moel Famau, in the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB which will benefit from £180,000 from this programme to ease traffic congestion, carry out remedial work to address erosion to paths and surrounding land and reduce light pollution. An additional £54,000 is also allocated to Denbighshire County Council for important upgrades to its network of footpaths and bridleways.

The Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn said: “Our National Parks and AONBs cover a quarter of Wales and are hugely important in helping tackle the loss of biodiversity and climate change.

“While our Designated Landscapes are very special to the people of Wales and attract millions visitors each year, access to local green spaces proved just as important during lockdown and this funding demonstrates that we greatly value our local footpaths and other rights of way.

“Following easing of the lockdown, many of our most popular countryside sites have faced significant pressures from large numbers of visitors. While most have visited responsibly, there have been high-profile cases of illegal parking, littering and unregulated camping which have caused damage to our fragile landscapes. This funding has therefore included projects that mitigate the negative environmental effects of tourism such as erosion, littering and pollution.

“As lockdown has eased, the need to invest in a safe, high quality visitor experience for an increasing number of visitors has been highlighted. This, along with the need to make a contribution to tackling climate change, is a major challenge for our Designated Landscapes.

“This funding will support our National Parks and other bodies to address these challenges and to ensure everyone can continue to enjoy our countryside for years to come.”

Councillor Tony Thomas, Cabinet Lead Member for Housing and Communities, who is also the Chair of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Advisory Committee, said:

“We were delighted to welcome the Minister to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and were equally as delighted to receive funding announced for AONBs and national parks.

“The Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB has always proved popular with visitors and residents, with the stunning scenery, magnificent hillsides and historic towns and villages a magnet for thousands of visitors each year.

“Inevitably with increasing numbers of visitors, we do experience some traffic congestion in our most popular scenic attractions and the sheer volume of people venturing into the hills also have an impact on the quality of footpaths over time. This funding will be used towards projects that will help address these issues and protect our landscape for generations to come.”

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RNIB brings LEGO® Braille Bricks toolkits to children in Carmarthenshire

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CHILDREN with vision impairment in Carmarthenshire are set to benefit from LEGO® Braille Bricks toolkits thanks to the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s (RNIB) work with the LEGO Foundation.

The toolkits have so far been distributed to Ceredigion Council, Swansea Council, Conwy Sensory Support Service, Carmarthenshire Council, Bridgend Council, Neath Port Talbot Council and Rhondda Cynon Taf.

LEGO Braille Bricks introduce a new way to help children with vision impairment develop tactile skills and learn the braille system. The kits are made up of approximately 300 LEGO bricks that are specially moulded so that the studs on top reflect individual letters and numbers in the Braille alphabet. The bricks also feature printed letters, numbers and symbols so that they can be used simultaneously by sighted peers, classmates, and teachers in a collaborative and inclusive way.

The kits are being brought to the UK by RNIB, which worked with the LEGO Foundation to develop and test the Braille Bricks and will distribute toolkits to schools and home-schooled children in Carmarthenshire from September.

RNIB Director of Services, David Clarke said: “We are excited to bring the LEGO Braille Brick toolkits to UK classrooms to help children learn how to read and write braille in a fun and engaging way. Braille is an important tool and these inclusive toolkits will make a real difference to children with vision impairment, allowing them to play and interact with their sighted classmates.”

RNIB has also trained teachers and support staff working with children with vision impairment in the teaching concept. Although the toolkit is intended as a playful introduction to braille for younger children aged from four up, it has also proven to have learning opportunities and benefits for children in secondary school.

Senior Play & Health Specialist at the LEGO Foundation, Stine Storm, said: “We are thrilled to launch the first wave of the LEGO Braille Bricks program and get the toolkits into the hands of children. With LEGO Braille Bricks, students and educators can tailor their activities in countless different ways to meet their needs and learning goals in a fun and inclusive manner. The possibilities for learning through play are endless, and we look forward to seeing how LEGO Braille Bricks can inspire children of all ages along their journey to learn braille.”

The UK is one of several countries that LEGO Braille Bricks will launch in this year. The toolkits, or sets of bricks, are not on general sale and can only be ordered by heads of service from local sensory services. Heads of service can also nominate an education professional from schools for children with vision impairment, or a QTVI (qualified teacher of children and young people with vision impairment), to place an order on behalf of their area. For more information visit www.rnib.org.uk/legobraillebricks

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Police appeal for witnesses after 20-year-old pedestrian tragically killed on A40

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is appealing for witnesses to a fatal road traffic collision on the A40 west of Carmarthen on Saturday (Sept 26) in which a 20-year-old man, a pedestrian, lost his life.

The police have asked The Pembrokeshire Herald to publicise this appeal.

A spokesman for the police told this newspaper: “At around 9.40pm, a white VW Transporter was in collision with a pedestrian on the A40 westbound, near the junction of Llangynog, Carmarthen.

“The pedestrian, a 20-year-old male, died as a result of his injuries.

“It appears the pedestrian had left his vehicle, a black Seat, following a single-vehicle collision further along the westbound carriageway shortly before.

The police have asked that if anyone has any information on either or both collisions, or may have been travelling along the A40 at the relevant time, please contact the serious collision investigation unit, quoting reference DPP-20200926-339.

This can be done by email: contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, by phone on 101 or by text: If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Tir Coed build outdoor classroom for Cross Hands Primary

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The local charity Tir Coed teamed up with Cross Hands Primary School to design and install a locally
grown woodland shelter to enable primary school pupils to benefit from outdoor lessons-even when
the rain pours!

Last year Cross Hands Primary School received funding from Carmarthenshire is Kind for their
intergenerational project. The project brought the schoolchildren together with older people in the
community. Through intergenerational activities, everyone involved increases social connectedness,
reduces social isolation, learns from one another and has a great time!

Before the lockdown, Tir Coed was contracted to lead a group mainly made up of parents from the
school on a shelter-building course. The attendees would gain knowledge and skills and the children
and the older people would be able to use the shelter, a third generation now included in this
fantastic project. The plans, however, had to change due to restrictions and in an effort to have it
ready for the children when they returned to school, three intrepid Activity Leaders braved the wet
August weather to build the beautiful shelter .

Studies have shown that being in the outdoors significantly reduces the risk of spreading the Corona
Virus. With this addition to their already impressive outdoor area, it is hoped that more learning can
take place outside the classroom. Deputy Head, Emma Walters said, “It looks amazing! I am very
impressed with the shelter and I cannot thank Tir Coed enough for organising this. Additional
covered space in the outdoors will mean that we can take more learning into our lovely nature
area.”

If you would like to find out more about the work of Tir Coed or have a project you would like our help
with you can contact Nancy, the Carmarthenshire Coordinator: carms@tircoed.org.uk

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