ENVIRONMENT: Innovation grows support to improve county environment

New life has been breathed into Denbighshire’s natural surroundings thanks to an innovative and forward thinking approach.

Denbighshire County Council has helped deliver the planting of over 18,000 trees, the reduction of coastal flooding for 1,650 properties and the enhancement of biodiversity in the County, with 60 sites being managed to create wildflower meadows.

The Council’s Corporate Plan 2017-22 included a focus on the preservation of the natural environment and also paid particular attention to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity within the county.

Denbighshire County Council also declared a Climate Change and Ecological Emergency in July 2019 and committed to seeking to become a Net Carbon Zero and Ecologically Positive Council by 2030.

Managed wildflower meadows include highway verges, footpath edges, cycleways and amenity grasslands, and along with 11 roadside nature reserves, equate to about 30 football pitches worth of grassland.

As well as protecting wildflowers, the meadows are also boosting habitat available for our declining native insects. The project has also been funded by Welsh Government, through the Local Nature Partnerships Cymru ENRaW project.

In 2018 the Council also gained Bee Friendly status from the Welsh Government, a scheme which aims to make Wales a pollinator-friendly country.

A local provenance tree nursery has recently been set up at Green Gates farm on the edge of St Asaph, aiming to produce 5,000 trees and 5,000 native wildflower plants a year, with the hope to expand in the future.

The site features a newly planted species rich hedge, a large native wildflower meadow, and a great crested newt hibernaculum designed to support local wildlife. It also contains a rain garden and large wildlife pond, installed as part of a sustainable drainage system designed to boost biodiversity and reduce flooding.

Cllr Tony Thomas, the Council’s lead member for Housing and Communities, said: “The Wildflower Meadows project plays an important part in our commitment to biodiversity and supporting the preservation of native flowers and insect population across the county.

“We are really grateful to the support given by all volunteers towards the project and the work of staff in helping it grow strong.

“We are also proud to have established such an important facility at St Asaph which will assist us in maintain the improvement of our local environment.”

The Green Infrastructure project, funded through the Welsh Government Project Transforming Towns funding, has developed and improved green spaces in and around Rhyl town centre, to create new habitats, and provide ‘green corridors’ linking the town centre to biodiversity rich areas such as Brickfields Ponds, Rhyl Cut and Glan Morfa.

The Council has worked with Balfour Beatty to develop land at the Morfa, a 35-acre wetland in Prestatyn. Three ponds were created at the site opposite the Morfa Woods with the aim to protect and support local biodiversity, invertebrates, mammals, birds and plant life. And the new-look site has already been visited by Egrets and Mallards.

The East Rhyl Coastal Defence Scheme, a £27million project funded by the Welsh Government and Denbighshire County Council, also commenced in April 2020 to protect 1,650 properties in East Rhyl from coastal flooding.

The Council has also secured £1million of Welsh Government grant to carry out natural flood management work in the county. In addition, we’ve received around £4million of Welsh Government grant to develop a business case for potential coastal defence schemes at Central Rhyl and Central Prestatyn, which if constructed would protect a further 2,800 properties.

To tackle the county’s carbon footprint, an Electric Vehicle P

ublic Charging Pilot has been developed. This will provide fast charging points in eight public car parks across Denbighshire for use by the public and support the transition for people to an electric car.

Denbighshire is also hosting the only North Wales pilot of a Welsh Government funded zero emission green taxi scheme. The project has four Nissan e-NV200 Dynamo pure electric Hackney licensed carriages available to all Denbighshire dual licensed taxi drivers (subject to meeting criteria).

We currently have 13 all electric vehicles in the fleet with seven twin port chargers to support re-fuelling. These are a mix of small to medium vans and support service delivery from Highways and Environment to ICT and Housing services.

There are plans to substantially increase the percentage of zero emission vehicles within our fleet with 8 vehicles already ordered from manufacturers and several more planned. These include two electric refuse collection vehicles to support our recycling team, a five seater electric car to support the homelessness team and an all-electric all-terrain vehicle for use in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) at Loggerheads.

A green project delivered at Ysgol Dinas Bran and Llangollen Leisure Centre has seen a 150Kw array of solar panels installed on the school roof which will generate electricity for the school onsite using the sun’s energy.

Other work includes heating control upgrades and LED lighting. The project is expected to reduce the school’s carbon emissions by 73 tonnes per year.

Cllr Brian Jones the Council’s Lead Member for Waste, Transport and the Environment, said: “We are proud to see the commitment and dedication to delivering our aim to become a Net Carbon Zero and Ecologically Positive Council by 2030 through fantastic projects already completed and ongoing.

“Going forward as climate change becomes even more important, we will continue to work hard to ensure the Council is maintaining the reduction of its carbon footprint and increasing biodiversity in the county.”

You can find out more about the Corporate Plan 2012-2022 here www.denbighshire.gov.uk/corporate-plan-ambition-achievements