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Park plans for starry, starry nights

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IN 2012starysky/13, the Brecon Beacons achieved International Dark Sky Reserve status for the whole National Park. On a clear night in the Brecon Beacons, you can see the Milky Way, major constellations, bright nebulas and even meteor showers. It’s enough to make anyone starry eyed.

Now Pembrokeshire’s own National Park Authority has decided to try to create a number of Dark Sky Discovery Sites across the county.

The UK has some of the largest areas of dark sky in Europe. You can find dark skies near where you live, if you can get away from bright lights such as street lighting. That could be in your back garden, a local park, or getting out of town altogether. From a city centre location we might see about 100 stars with our naked eyes, and the further away from the streetlights you go, the better the view becomes. Under a really dark sky we can see over 1,000 stars. We can even see our own galaxy, The Milky Way, stretching across the sky.

Pembrokeshire Cost National Park does not particularly lend itself to being a Dark Sky Reserve or Dark Sky Park because it is relatively small, ribbon-like, and is affected by significant light sources on the Milford Haven. These factors would make Dark Sky Reserve and Dark Sky Park requirements very difficult to meet, and the associated improvement commitments onerous to maintain.

Instead, officers have sought to identify a series of potential Dark Sky Discovery Sites across the National Park. Dark Sky Discovery Sites are small, accessible observation sites with good night sky quality. Proposals for Dark Sky Discovery sites are submitted to and decided by the UK Dark Sky Discovery partnership, which is made up of national and local astronomy and environmental organisations.

There is currently only one Dark Sky Discovery site in the National Park: the National Trust’s car park at Broad Haven South. A spread of Dark Sky Discovery Sites across the National Park could help raise the profile of the Park, not only for stargazers and photographers but as part of more general “Park-at-night” type experiences (wildlife observation, John Muir/Duke of Edinburgh tasks, navigation, bushcraft and so on), potentially out of the main visit or season.

In order to qualify for Dark Sky Discovery (DSD) Site status, the proposed locations need to meet a number of criteria that make them safe and accessible as well as having suitably dark skies, in order to fully suppor t the above aims.

Dark Sky Discovery Sites are places that:

are away from the worst of any local light pollution

provide good sightlines of the sky

have good public access, including firm ground for wheelchairs.

The sites are generally freely accessible at all times The website sets out two clear categories of Dark Sky Discovery sites. The two darkness ratings are:

‘Orion’ sites. At these sites, the seven main stars in the winter constellation Orion are visible to the naked eye. Typically, this means away from, or shielded from, bright lights such as street lights, security lights or approaching car lights.

“Milky Way” sites. At these sites the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye. They are much darker sites found only in more rural areas.

The ten selected sites are: Poppit Sands Beach; Bedd Morris National Park car park; Bwlch Gwynt; Garn Fawr National Trust car park; Rhosfach Common; Abereiddi Bay car park; Martin’s Haven National Trust car park; Kete National Trust car park; Stack Rocks National Park car park; and Skrinkle Haven National Park car park.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. ian campbell

    May 21, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    about time sixty years too late and now ridiculous typical pcnp dragged screaming into the present lying to cover up past bad decisions
    too little too late

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Pembrokeshire Bluetit Chill Swimmers successfully swim the English Channel

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Seven swimmers from Pembrokeshire have successfully completed their first cross-channel swim as a team representing the Bluetit Chill Swimmers.

“We are feeling amazing, elated, epic, achy, and exhausted,” expressed the team.

Setting off from Dover at 2:31 am last Wednesday morning, the women arrived in France at 7:54 pm that evening, after 17 hours and 24 minutes in the water. They swam in shifts of one hour, navigating through pitch-black early hours and encountering choppy seas during the journey. Despite seasickness and exhaustion, they supported each other throughout.

“For me, what was amazing was the constant support,” remarked team member Laura Voller. “Whether it was keeping warm with a blanket, or ensuring someone had food and drink when needed, there was always someone looking out for the team.”

The journey was far from straightforward. At one point, the safety boat’s pilot called swimmer Makala into the wheelhouse, expressing doubts about reaching France given the conditions and progress.

“I had a quick chat with the team and urged us to dig deep,” Makala recalled. “And we did just that.”

Reflecting on the challenging nature of channel swimming, Bluetits founder Sian Richardson noted, “It’s not glamorous; it’s about getting things done. We pushed ourselves to the limit. Despite fatigue, seasickness, and hunger, spirits lifted towards the end.”

Eva Rees, who made landfall in France, described the moment as a profound privilege. “To be the one landing the team was incredible,” she said. “I felt their support every step of the way.”

The Bluetits hope their achievement will inspire other cold-water swimmers worldwide to take on similar challenges. “Even if you think swimming isn’t for you, it’s achievable,” they affirmed. “We’re just ordinary people, but together, we’ve shown our endurance.”

Beyond their feat, the team aims to raise funds for water safety training across the global Bluetit community of 150,000 members and to equip the team with a portable defibrillator for events. They have already raised over £2,500.

To sponsor them, visit bluetit-channel-relay-swim.raiselysite.com/donate or click the link above.

Additionally, Jess is fundraising for Kidney Wales, while other team members are supporting Paul Sartori.

The team expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support and positive feedback on their videos during the swim, which bolstered their spirits throughout the challenging journey.

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‘A long way to go’ to eradicate racism in Wales

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WALES still has a long way to go to eradicate racism, a Senedd committee warned.

Jenny Rathbone led a debate on an equality committee’s report, entitled “Action, not words” following an inquiry on the Welsh Government’s anti-racist Wales action plan.

Ms Rathbone, who chairs the committee, said racism remains an all-too-familiar part of the day-to-day experience of far too many Welsh citizens.

She warned governance arrangements set up under the plan, which aims to make Wales an anti-racist nation by 2030, are far too complicated and risk being overengineered.

Ms Rathbone raised concerns about access to language interpretation in the health service, with family members, including children, too often being relied on as translators.

“It really is a breach of a person’s human rights not to have proper interpretation,” she said.

Ms Rathbone raised a Royal College of Nursing survey which found nearly half of Asian and black respondents had been bullied by colleagues, compared with 38% for white staff.

Turning to education, the Cardiff Central MS warned that many schools and colleges do not have anti-racism policies nor escalation mechanisms.

She said: “Race Council Cymru told us that many people from ethnic minority backgrounds don’t have confidence that education settings have effective policies to prevent racist bullying or micro-aggressions, and that these are dealt with effectively when they do occur.”

Ms Rathbone called for a consistent, pan-Wales approach to reporting anti-racist incidents in education similar to the Datix Cymru reporting system in the NHS.

Altaf Hussain, for the Conservatives, told the chamber Wales is among the most tolerant nations but, sadly, racism still exists.

“It is not the overt kind that is prevalent in our nation; it is the more covert structural racism,” he said, adding that the hidden nature of structural racism makes it difficult to tackle.

Mr Hussain, who represents South Wales West, warned that only a tiny percentage of teachers are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

“Last year, only 0.2% of the newly-qualified teachers were black,” he said. “Just 44 out of the nearly 1,500 newly-qualified teachers had a BAME background.

“How can we possibly hope to put an end to racism, discrimination and, ultimately, hate crime via education and celebrations of diversity if our teachers are not representative?”

Sioned Williams, Plaid Cymru’s shadow social justice secretary, warned of an “action gap”, saying progress on race-based prejudice and inequality has been too slow.

She said witnesses flagged funding as a barrier, quoting Ceri Harris, Betsi Cadwaladr health board’s head of equality, as saying she has had to beg, steal and borrow for initiatives.

Turning to criminal justice, Ms Williams said people from ethnic minority backgrounds are over-represented at all levels of the system.

She said: “In 2021, 51 out of every 10,000 black people in Wales were in prison, compared to 14 white people, and more black people were also under the care of probation services.

“The length of sentences is also longer for black people than white defendants. In the same way, the limited data available confirm high levels of disproportionality in the use of stop and search by Welsh police forces.”

Jane Dodds warned people from ethnic minority backgrounds continue to face disparities in housing, education, employment, health and justice despite pockets of progress.

The Mid and West Wales MS welcomed the ambition of the anti-racist action plan, stressing that it needs to “dismantle Wales’ racist framework”.

Ms Dodds said: “Complacency remains the enemy of progress and the committee’s report highlights the formidable challenges that the Welsh Government needs to surmount.”

The Lib Dems’ leader in Wales criticised ministers’ response to recommendations, accusing the Welsh Government of appearing to abdicate its role in improving strategic equality plans.

She added: “By rejecting the need for concrete timelines and binding commitments, the government further undermines confidence and risks allowing this blight to fester.”

John Griffiths focused his contribution on the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma community.

Warning their voices too often go unheard, the Labour backbencher stressed the need to combat discrimination against all sections of society in Wales.

Mr Griffiths, who represents Newport East, raised the children’s commissioner’s concerns about an unacceptable level of bullying faced by Gypsy and Traveller children.

He told the Senedd: “The level of exclusions is way beyond what we see for the rest of the population. That community is not represented amongst teaching staff

Mr Griffiths raised concerns about a lack of any spending from a Welsh Government pot specifically for sites for the Gypsy, Traveller community in the last financial year.

Responding to the debate on June 12, Lesley Griffiths said significant structural foundations have been laid for long-term change and tangible progress has been made.

The social justice secretary told the chamber a refreshed anti-racist Wales plan will be published this year, with goals and actions spanning the whole of government.

Ms Griffiths pointed out that Wales was the first UK nation to make the teaching of black, Asian and minority ethnic histories mandatory.

She added that the Welsh Government is also considering the recommendations of the children’s commissioner’s report which put a spotlight on racism in secondary schools.

In closing, Ms Griffiths said: “I’m committed to tackling systemic and cultural racism in all forms as a priority. What we need to do is absolutely use every lever available. We all need to take a leading role in eradicating racism here in Wales.”

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Stunning mural by local artist graces Tenby’s oldest pub

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THE WELL-LOVED Coach and Horses pub, Tenby’s oldest establishment, now boasts a stunning new mural by renowned local artist Lloyd the Graffiti.

The artwork, completed on June 12, has quickly become a beloved fixture in the heart of the town, capturing the admiration and praise of residents and visitors alike.

The mural, which features a vivid depiction of the iconic Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, pays homage to his legendary visit to the pub in 1953. According to local lore, Thomas became so inebriated during his visit that he left his manuscript for “Under Milk Wood” on a stool. Lloyd’s artwork brilliantly captures this slice of literary history, merging it with a vibrant portrayal of Tenby’s charming streetscape.

The mural’s unveiling has sparked an outpouring of positive reactions on social media, highlighting the community’s appreciation for Lloyd’s exceptional talent and the mural’s contribution to the town’s cultural landscape. Guy Manning commented, “Love it, absolutely wonderful!” JenksArt added, “Well done buddy! You smashed that about time Tenby had something like this in the heart of the town.” Amanda Absalom-Lowe expressed her admiration, “Lloyd you are such an amazing artist honest to go how do you just do it!? What a talent you have in this world and show it to the world!! Amazing.” Local residents have also been sharing their joy at seeing the mural come to life over the past few days: Sarah Bolwell shared, “So amazing! We’ve loved watching this progress over the last few days, what a brilliant addition to the street.” Kath Brown humorously recounted, “Whoop whoop you finished it! Well done, it’s been a real treat to watch the progress and heckle you as we’ve gone in and out!”

Anna Davies, a top fan, declared, “Wow that’s amazing it’s absolutely awesome such talent Lloyd the Graffiti Dylan Thomas lives on in Tenby for everyone to admire and talk about.” Other reactions included Nicola Newell: “Amazing,” Danielle Coles: “Brilliant,” Cheryl Hunt: “Stupendous,” Theresa Evans: “Shouldn’t they have a Welsh flag out the front?” Hazel Phillips: “Amazing,” and Penny Rossiter: “This looks amazing.”

Lloyd the Graffiti’s mural has not only enhanced the aesthetic appeal of the Coach and Horses pub but has also reignited the town’s enthusiasm for public art. Many residents hope this will be the first of many such projects, bringing more color and creativity to Tenby’s streets. As the mural continues to draw attention, it stands as a testament to the vibrant artistic talent within the community and the timeless allure of Dylan Thomas’s legacy. Visitors to Tenby are encouraged to stop by the Coach and Horses pub to experience this remarkable piece of art firsthand.

For those interested in seeing more of Lloyd’s work or commissioning a piece, he can be contacted through his social media platforms, where he regularly shares his latest projects and artistic endeavors.

These stunning pictures were taken by Gareth Davies Photography, Tenby.

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