Day: January 9, 2020

Coleg Cambria Students Join forces With a Wildlife Organisation to Help Save the Red Squirrel Population

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Level 3 NVQ Animal Management learners at Coleg Cambria Llysfasi built feeders and nest boxes for the animals and monitored their progress at enclosures in Clocaenog forest, near Ruthin, during a reinforcement project.

They have been supporting the work of Red Squirrels Trust Wales and Natural Resources Wales, who are fighting to save the species following a century-long decline in numbers.

There are an estimated 120,000-150,000 reds in the UK – and as few as 15,000 in England – since grey squirrels were introduced into the UK from America in the 1870s. Previously, red squirrels were commonly seen throughout the country.

Cambria students have also been helping to save the local hedgehog population in partnership with Hedgehog Help Prestatyn and are exploring a new dormouse project, as the tiny creatures are also disappearing at an alarming rate.

Llysfasi lecturer Kirstie Fraser said the students are gaining vital experience as part of the conservation initiatives, and proud to be playing a part in their survival.

“The Clocaenog project has been a success so far with several captive-bred red squirrels released back into the wild to mix with the remnant population and boost genetics,” said Kirstie.

“They have been brought into the forest from various locations with the help of the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay, and other breeding centres.

“The learners have also built feeder boxes with cameras trained on them so we can follow the squirrels’ progress, and they’ve cleaned and collected branches and greenery for the enclosures.”

She added: “Following health tests, the red squirrels were fitted with radio collars. Students were taught how to track their movements in the forest and then to analyse the data.

“It has been a brilliant project for them, and most importantly in trying to reverse the huge population decline.”

The red squirrel is officially classed as ‘Near Threatened’ in Wales, England and Northern Ireland but is a common sight in forests across Scotland.

The main cause of their demise was the introduction of grey squirrels in the 19th century; this species carries a Parapoxvirus disease, which does not appear to affect their health but does kill red squirrels, and they also out-compete the reds for food and other resources. A loss of woodland has played a major role as well.

Becky Clews-Roberts, who was Red Squirrel Ranger for the Clocaenog forest project, thanked Coleg Cambria for its support of the scheme.

“I would not hesitate to ask them for help again,” she said.

“They are a very hard-working group and take an interest in what they are doing. Many, many thanks to Coleg Cambria Llysfasi for your help.”

To support the red squirrels project and find out more, visit www.clocaenog-rst.org and https://www.redsquirrelsunited.org.uk/[:]

Partnership project to deliver 3,500 healthy homes in Neath Port Talbot

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This January will see the ground-breaking Healthy Homes Healthy People project arrive in Neath Port Talbot. Run by a local Community Interest Company, with the support of a dozen local organisations, the project is set to make a real difference to people who are struggling to pay their bills or heat their homes.

Healthy Homes Healthy People is delivered with financial backing from Wales & West Utilities, the support of Neath Port Talbot Council and a range of partners. Running since 2018 the project has already saved householders in three Welsh counties more than £1.3 million, and is looking to deliver the same benefits for residents in Neath Port Talbot.

Healthy Homes Healthy People is delivered by our team of Community Workers who will be attending events and visiting households across the county. They can offer detailed energy efficiency advice as well as a range of free advice and support.

Help on offer includes; energy efficiency advice, heating measures, home safety advice and improvements, reducing utility bills, advising on benefit availability, making partner referrals and much more besides.

The team will be starting work in Aberavon and Sandfields and over the next 12 months in Neath and Port Talbot are planning to deliver energy efficiency advice to 3,500 homes and carry out more than 300 in-depth face-to-face appointments.

Jonathan Cosson, Director of Warm Wales, talked about the achievements of the project in Cardiff.

“After running the project in Cardiff, we know that our Community Workers are making a real difference. We’ve been delighted with the overall savings achieved through Healthy Homes Healthy People and with the dozens of individual testimonials we’ve received. These comments make very clear how much a saving on a water bill or a benefit referral means to someone on low income.”

With schemes in Cardiff and RCT completed, we have partnered with Neath Port Talbot Council to expand the project. It’s very much a team effort and we’ll be working alongside Welsh Water, Care & Repair, Citizens Advice, Tai Tarian, Coastal Housing, NPT Foodbank, Nest and Thrive, to deliver real benefits to householders.

The project is getting underway in January 2020 with the community team starting in Sandfields East, Sandfields West and Aberavon. The project is also accepting direct referrals from householders which can be made by visiting the Warm Wales website.[:]

RenewableUK Cymru welcomes EDF Renewables plans for 110MW windfarm

[:en]RenewableUK Cymru has welcomed EDF Renewables announcement of a plans to develop a wind farm called Garn Fach, south of Newtown, Powys, in partnership with 14 local farming families.

The project is likely to consist of up to 22 turbines, each producing around 5 MW. That’s 110MW capable of generating enough low carbon electricity for the domestic needs of 66,000 households*. Ahead of submitting a planning application for the wind farm at the end of 2020, EDF R has been carrying out ecological and other feasibility surveys.

Today (Thursday 9th January), EDF R is submitting an environmental scoping report to the Welsh Government and an application to Powys County Council to erect a met mast on site to gather accurate wind speed data. EDF R is committed to an annual community benefit fund for Garn Fach of £5,000 per MW, which could be around £550,000 (depending on the final capacity of the project) per year available for local causes, or £16.5 million over the 30-year lifetime of the project.

The wind farm will also have the potential for local ownership, with opportunities for local people and organisations to invest and have a stake in the project.

RenewableUK Cymru Head Rhys Wyn Jones said “It’s great to see plans announced for a project that could make a vital contribution to meeting carbon emission reduction and renewable power targets in Wales, with all the economic benefits investment that onshore wind brings to local economies as well as consumers. We’re seeing new market opportunities to bring forward onshore wind projects at different scales but to meet our net zero emissions target at lowest cost, we need to see the new UK Government set an energy strategy which supports onshore wind. New projects must be allowed to compete for UK Government-backed contracts to generate power and we need to update our planning rules so that we can use the latest technology and replace older wind farms with new turbines.  Welsh Government also has a vital role to play in ensuring the planning regime underpinning larger renewable energy developments is fit for a new decade”.

* Load factors based on the five-year rolling averages on unchanged configuration basis using Table 6.5 of ‘Digest of UK Energy Statistics’ – latest figures as per July 2019 release[:]

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