Day: June 3, 2021

Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly report and recommendations published

The Assembly was held virtually over two weekends in March and brought together over 40, randomly selected, demographically representative, people living in the county borough to deliberate the very important question: “What should we do in Blaenau Gwent to tackle the climate crisis in a way that is fair and improves living standards for everyone?”

The Climate Assembly adopted five recommendations relating to transport, housing and green space, which achieved over 80% support. These recommendations were written by the Assembly members themselves and informed by presentations from climate change experts.

You can view the recommendations and the report in full here

This report was drafted by Cynnal Cymru and the Electoral Reform Society Cymru, two of the organising partners of the Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly.

In September last year the Council officially declared a Climate Emergency in Blaenau Gwent. Next week, all borough councillors will have the opportunity to hear from Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly members about their recommendations and consider how they can take this agenda forward.

The Blaenau Gwent Public Services Board, which brings together organisations including the council, health, housing, police and the voluntary sector, have committed to giving a written response to these recommendations at their next meeting in July. This reflects Public Services Board partners’ long-term commitment to Blaenau Gwent playing its full part in taking action to achieve Wales’s target for Net Zero emissions by 2050.

Cllr Dai Davies, the Council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Regeneration & the Economic Development, will be leading the briefing. He says:

“We are absolutely committed as a Council to working with a wide range of partners to do whatever we can to respond locally to this global issue. We recognise the huge challenges that are ahead of us all in trying to protect our environment for the well-being of our future generations. This is why as a Local Authority we declared a Climate Emergency and already started to act through our Decarbonisation Plan. This plan sees us take a more strategic approach towards achieving carbon neutrality by prioritising work in a number of key areas of our operations which, with some changes, can make a significant contribution towards our carbon neutral aim.

“The people at the Climate Assembly were equally passionate about our environment and their recommendations will help to focus our minds even further and tells us what they think is key to tackling this issue. Thank you to everyone who took part for your time.”

The report will also be presented to the Blaenau Gwent Public Services Board, as working with regional partners is key to addressing environmental issues.

Sarah Hopkins, Director, Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales, says:

“The transition to net zero will mean changes to people’s lives so it is vital that communities understand and participate in this journey. Tackling the climate crisis, provides an opportunity to address existing inequalities in Wales and improve lives for everyone. It is really encouraging to see the commitment of Blaenau Gwent Council, the wider PSB and the Housing Associations to listening and responding to the recommendations from the Assembly.

“We hope that other regions in Wales will also adopt similar processes to inform decarbonisation action plans.”

Steve Cranston, Foundational Economy Lead at United Welsh Housing says:

“We are delighted to have been involved in Wales first climate assembly. It shows it is possible to bring a representative sample of people together – and address one of the toughest challenges facing us all – the climate crisis. The Climate Assembly process is one that is respectful of different opinions and builds trust. The top 5 recommendations had overwhelming 80% support from members. This gives these recommendations a weight and credibility that is hard to ignore.

“The process of working together across housing associations, the local authority, civil society organisations and citizens has been a positive one where relationships have been strengthened and trust built.

“The four housing associations who supported the Climate Assembly – Linc Cymru, Melin Homes, Tai Calon and United Welsh – are working on developing a coordinated response to the recommendations. In the key areas of housing retrofit and new build the recommendations will help shape our future priorities.”

The Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly was organised by housing associations United Welsh; Linc Cymru Melin Homes and Tai Calon in partnership with sustainable development charity Cynnal Cymru, Blaenau Gwent Council and ERS Cymru.

The 5 recommendations are:

Transport

  1. Establish an affordable, integrated road & rail transport system accessible throughout BG. A one ticket system that links to bus, rail & cycle schemes – inclusivity for purchasing of tickets (digital or paper). Accessible all hours with safety via lighting, CCTV and to keep maintained.
  2. Establish & improve a safe, easily maintainable infrastructure for walkers & cyclists, for either recreational or work purposes, with access to the public transport network. Including lighting & CCTV & storage for bikes.

Housing

  1. Retrofit Train local tradespeople, create qualifications and upskill local businesses, involve FE colleges and local Universities, future proof it and provide the right courses to enable them to do the work in all green construction.

Green Space and Nature

  1. Implement a programme of woodland preservation and reforestation of BG, using the right tree in the right place for the right reason, increasing opportunities for jobs, biodiversity and connecting woodlands. Making sure the skills are available so we can create green jobs, e.g. saw milling and timber framed housing.

Housing New Build

  1. Ensure that all new build properties are built using the latest sustainable technologies (e.g. Glanffrwd development as a template), employing local builders and providing a variety of accommodation types appropriate for all inc. homeless/single occupancy up to large families.

Empowering Change: New Eco-Literacy course launches on World Environment Day

At Cynnal Cymru we have always championed individuals and organisations that take action for sustainable development. We know there is no single solution as to how we can arrive at a more equal, abundant and sustainable future, which is why the array of different actions that we come across, from different sources and sectors, both excite and reassure us.

It is this faith in the ability of people to identify solutions that fit within the context of their own lives that has inspired our latest training course – Nabod Natur: Nature Wise – which was recently piloted with a range of organisations including Swansea Council, Mind Cymru and Welsh Government.

Aimed at explaining the global nature crisis that we are facing in an accessible way, the course provides an overview of the intricate way that ecosystems function to sustain life. It then explores the links between human activity and the disruption in natural cycles that we are experiencing – with climate change and declining wildlife being increasingly evident results.

The course also covers national and international frameworks for nature recovery as well as practical steps that are being encouraged or pioneered. Most important to us, the course creates the space for participants to apply course knowledge and concepts to their own lives, identifying the ways most useful and beneficial to them to act for nature recovery in their organisation, at home and in the community.

Launching a course like this is no easy thing with so many expert organisations already existing in ecology, education, behaviour change and action planning – in fact, everything that Nature Wise covers. Our aim was to bring together all these aspects and we are delighted by the reactions of our pilot attendees As an early participant identified: “You have empowered people to change and in today’s world that is a marvellous result.”

Nature Wise launches on 5 June: World Environment Day
First Open Course: 20 and 22 July: 2 x online sessions with optional self-directed study in between. Total time commitment 5-6 hours. Cost: £85 per learner with discounts for group bookings
To discuss bespoke training for your organisation or to book onto the first open course please contact training@cynnalcymru.com

Give nature a helping hand. Hundreds of new free garden packages available to communities

Last year, more than 500 gardens were created, restored and enhanced through Local Places for Nature. Community groups and organisations of all shapes and sizes got involved – from disability charities and youth groups to social enterprises and carer groups. 

Applications have now reopened, and communities are being urged to get involved early to avoid missing out. You can choose from small-scale fruit and herb, pollinator and urban gardens, or larger-scale wildlife and food growing gardens.   

Deputy Chief Executive for Keep Wales Tidy Louise Tambini said: 

“Over the past year, more people than ever have come to appreciate the value of nature on their doorstep. But urgent action must be taken to give reverse its decline. That’s why we’re so excited to reopen applications for Local Places for Nature.  

“Thanks to the ongoing support of Welsh Government and our partners, hundreds of new gardens will be taking shape across the country over the next few months.” 

The initiative is part of a wider Welsh Government ‘Local Places for Nature’ fund committed to creating, restoring and enhancing nature ‘on your doorstep’. 

Minister for Climate Change Julie James said:  

The pandemic has given us all a greater appreciation of nature and the way in which it underpins our health, economy and wider wellbeing. 

“The environment will be at the heart of our new government’s decision making, so I am delighted that we can continue to support our communities to do their bit to help out our plants, birds and pollinators across Wales. I encourage you to get together to take advantage of this funding so you can give nature a helping hand.” 

Hundreds of free garden packages are available. To apply, visit the Keep Wales Tidy website www.keepwalestidy.cymru/nature  

Award-winning refill campaign awarded £49,999 to help fight plastic pollution in Cardiff

Environmental organisation City To Sea has been awarded £49,999 from the Landfill Disposals Tax Community Scheme (LDTCS) to help cut plastic pollution in Cardiff. The funding, which will be administered by the WCVA over the next two years, will help to reduce single use plastic waste by growing the number of businesses offering refill and reuse options across the city.

The LDTCS funds projects within five miles of certain waste transfer stations or landfill sites. In Cardiff, it will fund the expansion of City To Sea’s Refill campaign, via their multi-award-winning app which connects people to places to eat, drink and shop with less plastic.
The app already connects conscious consumers with more than 1,800 businesses accepting reusables and providing free tap water refills in Wales – including museums, bars, galleries, and supermarkets; as well as smaller, family businesses, local cafes and restaurants.

But it’s hoped that the expanded campaign will increase the number of locations and types of businesses listed on the app in Cardiff, helping to make re-use and refill the new social norm. Customers will be encouraged to use the app to find out where to refill everything from their water bottle, coffee cup, and lunch box, to household cleaning products and toiletries.

Hannah Osman, Refill Wales Manager at City to Sea said, “We are thrilled to have been awarded this LDTCS Grant and will be working closely with communities and businesses in the Cardiff region to tackle the mountain of avoidable single-use plastic created every day. The long-term ambition is that the expanded Refill campaign will result in the Cardiff region being weaned off its reliance on single use plastic. Consumer demand will drive sustainable innovation in the sector, impacting behaviour change within businesses and reducing the amount of plastic waste flowing into our rivers and oceans.”

WELSH BUSINESSES GET BEHIND REFILL AND REUSE
As a result of public health concerns during the pandemic, many cafes and retailers in Cardiff temporarily stopped accepting reusables and increased their use of single-use plastic. This is despite experts stating that reusables are perfectly safe to use, and only 5% of customers feeling that single-use items are safer than reusables.

So ahead of the first ever World Refill Day (16th June) City to Sea is encouraging a new wave of signups to the Refill app. They are welcoming businesses who already allow customers to bring their own containers or offer packaging- free options, or those who are looking to trial a refill service for the first time. Businesses are invited to use the app as a free marketing platform to drive footfall and increase sales.

New to the app this year is Kemi’s Café in Pontcanna. Patrick Nevins, who runs the popular independent café with his mum, Kemi, said “As a business, we are happy to help our customers reduce their reliance on single use packaging. We now offer free tap water refills and also allow customers to bring their own reusable coffee cups.”

Also recently signed up to the app is the Waterloo Tea chain of teahouses, which recently announced plans for a sixth site on Whitchurch Road. Founder Kas said “Our sites in Penylan, Lakeside, Roath and the city centre have all been added to the Refill app; we display our sticker to let customers know that they don’t have to buy bottled water, they can refill their reusable water bottles with us for free. Next month, on World Refill Day, we will also be launching a new discount scheme for people who use their own takeaway coffee cups.”

Both businesses – alongside many others around Cardiff – can be seen adding Refill window stickers to their shop fronts in a new film aimed at driving business sign-ups, available via this link. Other forward-thinking businesses in the food-to-go or retail sector are invited to share their involvement on social media using the hashtags #ReturnToRefill.

Jo Morley, Head of Campaigns at City to Sea said, “The pandemic unfortunately led to a huge increase in single-use plastic, but as move towards a sense of normality, we need to ensure we don’t see a repeat of the scenes of last summer where our beaches, parks and beauty spots were covered in pointless single-use packaging. Refill provides a simple way for businesses and consumers to take action to turn the tide on plastic pollution – as we prepare for the first ever World Refill Day (16th June), it’s time to get reusables back on the menu!”

Any business can sign up as a Refill Station and add their own details by registering for free on the app at refill.org.uk/get-the-refill-app/.

BETTER FOR THE PLANET, BETTER FOR BUSINESS
5.5 billion plastic bottles escape household recycling collection every year. They are littered, landfilled or incinerated (creating toxic fumes in the process).

Offering refills is an easy way to help reduce this figure, and over 120 health experts from eighteen countries have signed a statement assuring retailers and consumers that reusables are safe during COVID-19.
The health experts emphasise that disposable products are not inherently safer than reusables, and that reusable systems can be utilised safely during the pandemic by employing basic hygiene.
But offering refills also has a positive impact on business. According to research[2]:
• 66% of people said they would be likely to make a purchase from a business whilst refilling.
• 65% would be likely to return to make a future purchase.
• 64% would choose to make a purchase from a participating business over a competitor.
• 7 out of 10 people would view a business more favourably if it provided refills.

HOW TO ENJOY A NO-CONTACT REFILL
Reusables can be used safely and accepting them doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact it can be super simple. Here’s how cafes and other businesses can offer a no-contact refill:

  1. Customers place their clean reusable bottle or container (lid off) onto a designated spot and steps back two metres.
  2. The server refills the container without touching it. The customer replaces the lid and takes away the container.
    Or;
  3. Using a clean napkin, the server takes the customer’s container and fills it from the tap. The server replaces the bottle on the counter and disposes of the napkin.
  4. Customers celebrate reducing the prevalence of single-use plastic – diolch!

[1] [4] Brita/You Gov – https://resource.co/article/study-finds-45-cent-fall-purchases-bottled-water-go

[2] Water, Water Everywhere (2018) Moving on from awareness to action on single use plastic bottles. Keep Britain Tidy & BRITA: http://www.keepbritaintidy.org/sites/default/files/resources/Water%20Water%20Everywhere%202018%20Report%20WEB.pdf

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