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49 Welsh locations crowned among best beaches in the world

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KEEP WALES TIDY has today announced the Wales Coast Award winners for 2024, spotlighting the 49 coastal sites achieving the high standards required to receive a prestigious Blue Flag, Green Coast or Seaside Award.

With more and more local authorities and organisations facing pressure on reduced budgets, it is heartening to see so many continue to prioritise the delivery of the exceptional standards required to achieve these awards in the stunning coastal areas which surround our beautiful country.

Blue Flag is managed internationally by FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education) and is one of the world’s most recognised awards for beaches, marinas and boats. The programme’s mission is to promote environmental education, sustainable development of tourism, environmental management systems and ensure safety and access for beach users.

The 24 Welsh beaches achieving this accolade must adhere to specific criteria related not only to water quality, but also information provision, environmental education, safety, and site management in equal measure.

Alongside the 24 Blue Flag awards, 13 beaches in Wales were awarded the Green Coast Award which recognises their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty. Green Coast Awards are ‘hidden gems’ along the Welsh coastline, exceptional places to visit and enjoy diversity and rich coastal heritage.

In addition, a total of 12 beaches, including Aberporth and Rhyl Central, also achieved the Seaside Award for the standard of their facilities and water quality.

This continued recognition of our stunning Welsh coastline is due once again to the huge effort of staff and volunteers at sites across Wales, and a shared drive to protect and preserve our natural landscape in the face of increasingly challenging circumstances.

Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies, said: “Wales boasts some of Europe’s finest beaches and water quality, and the global recognition of our coastline is a true reflection of the dedication and hard work of so many people, today we celebrate the announcement of 49 winners for the Wales Coast Awards 2024.

“With 24 Blue Flag awards, 13 Green Coast Awards, and 12 Seaside Awards, I commend the dedication to preserving our pristine coastal environments.

“As we celebrate in this achievement, let us also heed the call to protect and preserve our coastal treasures. Let’s ensure that we leave nothing but footprints, allowing these breathtaking spaces to be enjoyed for many generations to come.”

Owen Derbyshire, Keep Wales Tidy Chief Executive said: “We’re delighted to see another successful year of Coast Awards here in Wales, with 49 stunning locations recognised among the world’s best.

“Achieving these prestigious awards means meeting rigorous standards put in place to ensure the safe enjoyment of visitors now and in years to come. This success is testament to the hard work of all involved in maintaining and enhancing the natural beauty of our Welsh coastline.”

A full list of awards can be found on the Keep Wales Tidy website here

Community

Urgent warning: Flash rips at Newgale

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BEACHGOERS at Newgale Beach are being warned to exercise extreme caution due to an increase in flash rip currents, which have led to numerous rescues in recent days. Lifeguards have reported a spike in dangerous currents, prompting a strong advisory for visitors to heed safety guidelines.

On Tuesday, RNLI lifeguards at Newgale Beach were involved in a series of dramatic rescues. With surf conditions of 1-2 feet and shifting sandbanks at low tide, an abundance of rip currents formed, creating perilous conditions for swimmers and surfers. Lifeguards rescued six people and assisted a further eight from rip currents, while also offering preventative advice to hundreds of beachgoers.

Senior Lifeguard George Morgan stressed the importance of visiting lifeguarded beaches, especially with World Drowning Prevention Day approaching on 25 July. “Yesterday’s events highlight why it’s crucial to follow our advice. We conducted six rescues and assisted eight more people, but also provided preventative advice to hundreds,” Morgan said.

The conditions at Newgale are particularly hazardous due to the interaction of surf, wind, and tides with the sandbanks, creating unpredictable flash rip currents. These currents can change location daily, making them impossible to predict. Lifeguards have to regularly move the safety flags and dynamically assess the beach.

Lifeguards advise swimming and bodyboarding only between the red and yellow flags, and surfing, kayaking, and paddle boarding between the black and white flags. These flagged areas are patrolled by lifeguards from 10 am to 6 pm. A red flag indicates an unsafe area, typically due to rip currents.

Tuesday’s incidents began shortly after midday when a flash rip current appeared at the north end of Newgale Beach. Lifeguard Jake Rogers rescued two bodyboarders and assisted three surfers out of the rip current. Later, he helped two more bodyboarders who were struggling to return to shore.

Lifeguard George Morgan, operating a Rescue Water Craft (RWC), guided people to stay within the flagged areas. He spotted two bodyboarders being swept out to sea and assisted them with the help of Lifeguard Travis Christopher-Mullins. Later, Jake Rogers, while patrolling on the RWC, assisted a surfer and two swimmers caught in rip currents, ensuring their safe return to shore.

Near the end of their shift, Lifeguard Cai Owen rescued two bodyboarders who were caught in a rip current and far out of their depth, bringing them safely back to shore.

Stuart Penfold, Lead Lifeguard Supervisor for North Pembrokeshire, offered crucial advice for those caught in a rip current: “Don’t swim against it or you’ll get exhausted. If you can stand, then wade instead of swimming. If possible, swim parallel to the shore until you’re free of the current, then head back to shore. Always raise your hand and shout for help.”

Penfold also encouraged beachgoers to approach lifeguards for guidance if they are unsure about water safety. He emphasised that several beaches in Pembrokeshire, including Newport Sands, Poppit Sands, Whitesands, Newgale Central and South, Broad Haven, Freshwater West, Tenby North, Tenby Castle, Tenby South, and Saundersfoot, are patrolled daily from 10 am to 6 pm.

Safety Tips:

  • Swim only in areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Be aware of changing conditions and unexpected currents.
  • Avoid swimming after hours or in unpatrolled areas.
  • Share this safety information with others.

Newgale Beach, while a stunning destination, currently requires heightened vigilance and caution.


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Community

Call for landowners to check for ash dieback

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WORK has been carried out across Pembrokeshire to manage trees affected by ash dieback.
Ash dieback is one of the worst tree disease epidemics the UK has ever seen and there is no treatment option.

Trees affected by the disease become brittle over time with branches breaking away.
If they are not dealt with, trees are weakened and may become susceptible to secondary pathogens which may result in total failure, presenting an immediate danger to the surrounding area.

Cllr Rhys Sinnett, the Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services, said: “Like many areas of Wales and the UK, ash dieback is prevalent in Pembrokeshire.

“It is always a shame when a tree has to be removed but this work is important for public safety.

“The Council is also highlighting important action that needs to be taken by private landowners.”

Through highway inspections, the Authority has identified trees on private land that could impact on the highway and therefore require attention.

Private landowners have a duty, under the Highways Act, to manage trees on their land that may impact on the public highway.

The Council’s Streetcare Team continues to contact private landowners to identify trees that fall within the higher category of decay.

In order to assist with this issue the Council is requesting that private landowners check their ash trees for any sign of the disease and take appropriate action.

This is especially important at this time of year, as lack of leaf growth and decayed branches will be signs of diseased trees that landowners will need to check and take action if necessary.

The Council advises that an arborist or qualified person is used to assess trees and review safe felling operations and ensure consents are in place to remove any identified trees.

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Community

Conservation area consultation for Cresswell Quay approval expected

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PLANS to hold a public consultation on making one of south Pembrokeshire’s most scenic estuarial villages, home to a CAMRA award-winning pub, a conservation area are expected to be backed by the national park.

At the July 24 meeting of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park’s meeting approval is sought to initiate public consultation for designating Cresswell Quay as a Conservation Area.

Cresswell Quay, home to the Cresselly Arms, is “one of the most scenic villages within the National Park and is highly significant as a very early coal port, retaining several buildings of architectural importance,” a report for members states.

There are some 500 conservation areas, defined as “areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance” across Wales, 14 in the national park.

The report for Park members adds: “The designation of a conservation area at Cresswell Quay would recognise the special architectural and historic interest of the village and would ensure that future development either preserves or enhances the character and appearance of the conservation area.

“The designation would introduce controls over the demolition of buildings which would require conservation area consent and affords greater protection of works to trees. Officers consider that part of the special interest of Cresswell Quay is the relationship between the village, the estuary and its wooded setting, which is unusual in a Pembrokeshire context.”

It adds: “To date, the Conservation Areas within the National Park have been designated inhouse. However, Cresswell Quay is the home of the Buildings Conservation Officer and to avoid any potential conflict of interest or wider public misconception, the public consultation will be undertaken by Linda Jones of Babb Architects, Whitland and Emily Holder, Conservation Assistant, supported by members of the Strategic Policy team.”

Initial engagement with key landowners and the three community councils of the area has already taken place, and a public drop-in event – if consultation is backed – is planned for early August.

Further information on the consultation will also promoted at events including the Pembrokeshire County Show and Martletwy Show.

Earlier this year the Cresselly Arms won the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) pub of the year award for the whole of Wales.

The Cresselly Arms averaged 89 points out of a maximum 120 after surveys were conducted across the country by members of other branches.

The recommendation before Park members seeks approval for a formal consultation, as well as drafting a conservation area appraisal and management plan.

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