In a Western Mail feature yesterday, Diane McCrea, chairman of NRW, welcomed the accreditation of a restoration project at Wentwood Forest under the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy initiative. QCC will create a Commonwealth-wide network of indigenous forest conservation projects, helping to address climate change. NRW is collaborating with the Woodland Trust, the local community and other stakeholders at Wentwood to restore the woodland to a more natural state with many well-being benefits. Conifer planting dating back to the 1800s will be gradually converted to native broadleaves.
The deadline for commenting on Monmouthshire’s draft Well-being Plan is near – 7 February. Go to www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/our-monmouthshire to learn more – there is even a survey to assess how happy you are!
Monmouthshire Meadows Group inform us that on Sunday 18 February, there is a Local Wildlife Site Landowner Morning run by Gwent Wildlife Trust, at Llanishen Village Hall, from 9.30am to around 1pm. All MMG members are welcome to attend, whether or not you own a designated Local Wildlife Site, and it looks like an interesting programme with speakers on otters, orchard conservation, adders, and the UK National Tree Seed Project as well as general updates on the LWS scheme. The programme is on the MMG web site here including a link to the directions page on the hall’s web site. There’s no fee but please book in advance by contacting Andy Karran, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01600 740600.
If you didn’t catch MMG’s chair on TV the other week the programme is still available to see on iPlayer (for a week or so before it disappears) www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09m8ldd
Bridges Community Car Scheme in Monmouthshire are crowdfunding and looking for volunteers to expand this vital community service. The local community transport scheme uses volunteer drivers to help people from Monmouth and the surrounding areas to get out and about. Most of their passengers are elderly and live alone, sometimes in isolated locations. Many have mobility and other health issues and for some, financial factors limit their capacity to get out and about. Please take a look at their crowdfunding page to find out more details about the scheme. Bridges would be very grateful for any pledges of time or money you can give. If you are a local business and would like to sponsor the scheme, please contact Gill on 07557008743 to find out more details about the scheme. Bridges would be very grateful for any pledges of time or money you can give.
A busy time for CALM as the M4 Relief Road inquiry nears its end. They have emailed every AM with a Statement of their reasons for opposition (see www.savethelevels.org.uk) and urged their supporters also to press their AMs. Press publicity has understandably provoked very mixed responses and CALM urge anyone opposed to the road to join in the online debate (eg by registering with www.walesonline.co.uk). Also see https://twitter.com/CalmCampaign. CALM believe that even if the inquiry Inspector supports the road the political will to meet the rising cost may not be there.
From NRW: ‘As set out in our last update in December 2017, we have set up an online survey to better understand the ways in which you would like to be kept informed of what’s happening during the Area Statement process. Through completing this survey it will enable us to better understand your areas of interest with which you would like to be more closely engaged, and the people in your organisation that need to be involved. We will use the information to plan and target our communication and engagement around Area Statements. With respect to handling personal information please see our Privacy Statement – http://www.naturalresourceswales.gov.uk/about-us/contact-us/request-information/privacy-statement/?lang=en. Please ensure that this survey is completed for or on behalf of named individuals, unless you would prefer us to contact a central mailbox. There is no limit to the number of contacts per organisation. This Survey will be live until Friday 9 February and identical surveys are available in either Welsh or English.’ Here are the links to the surveys: Welsh: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/DatArdal/, Engish: https//www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/AreaStat/
The M4 Relief Road, still being considered at a public inquiry, is expected to cost more than £1.4bn once VAT is taken into account, a senior Welsh Government official has told AMs. Simon Jones said it was not yet clear what VAT would need to be paid. Welsh Government recently announced it had committed to spending an extra £135m to improve Newport Docks – pushing costs up 10% to £1.3bn. Labour Llanelli AM Lee Waters (once with Sustrans) feared costs could rise to as much as £1.5bn.
Newport City Council is consulting on its city centre master plan at http://www.newport.gov.uk/en/About-Newport/City-Centre-Masterplan.aspx. It is not very detailed. It is also reported that the Terry Matthews of the Celtic Manor Hotel may be considering hotel use of the empty Chartist Tower.
You may be unaware of an exciting and supportive programme being developed for our communities. The Be. Community Leadership Programme funded through the Rural Development Programme offers a suite of free training courses, online learning and networking opportunities for community volunteers doing great things. They are working with a number of partner organisations to offer a flexible range of skills and knowledge development, whilst demonstrating exactly what support is on offer in Monmouthshire and rural areas of Newport.
The developing programme, which as yet has no specifically environmental content, is at http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/community-leadership-programme.
Natural Resources Wales’ latest funding update is here: https://naturalresources.wales/media/683624/funding-update-december-2017-english.pdf