GLAMORGAN HERITAGE COAST ADVISORY GROUP
Minutes of a meeting held on 17th April, 2015.
Present: Councillor Mrs. A.J. Preston (Chairman); Councillors L. Burnett and R.P. Thomas (Vale of Glamorgan Council), Councillor G. Davies (Bridgend County Borough Council), Mr. B. Acott (Friends of Glamorgan Heritage Coast), Mrs. H. March (Friends of Glamorgan Heritage Coast), Mr. N. Lewis (Glamorgan Wildlife Trust), Mr. R. McLaggan (Merthyr Mawr Estates), Mr. J. Golunski (Dunraven Estates), Mr. R. Facey (Natural Resources Wales).
(a) Apologies for Absence -
These were received from Councillors J. Drysdale, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey and E. Williams, Mr. R. Pratt (Cooke and Arkwright), Councillor A. Morgan (One Voice Wales) and Mr. P. Dunn (Glamorgan Heritage Coast Centre).
(b) Minutes -
AGREED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 12th September, 2014 be agreed as a correct record subject to the following amendment:
Mr. Lewis, Glamorgan Wildlife Trust advised that the Shore Crab mentioned within the minutes was likely to be a Japanese Shore Crab and may have been brought into the area in larvae form in the ballast water of boats in the area, rather than from hot water outlet at Aberthaw.
Councillor D. Davies from Bridgend County Borough Council, asked whether an appropriate officer had been allocated as requested at the Group’s meeting in September 2014. In response, the Operational Manager, Mr. Guy, informed the Group that he was the appropriate officer for any queries from Bridgend County Borough Council in relation to issues relating to the management of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.
(c) Presentation by the Ranger, Ms. Helen Mills – Achievements and Issues Since the Last Meeting –
Ms. Helen Mills, Glamorgan Heritage Coast Ranger, provided the Group with a presentation in regard to the achievements and issues since the last meeting in September 2014.
The weather had been very varied throughout the year with three storms; however a good summer meant that the Heritage Coast had been quite busy, with people visiting people out enjoying the coast. There had been some unusual movement of sand in the previous year and the sand seemed to have returned to the Heritage Coast after the storms. In response to a query Ms. Mills advised that she was not aware of any dredging having taken place at Nash Point.
There seemed to have been an increase in visitors in the previous six months, including out of season, who were enjoying the enjoying the Wales Coast Path.
The problem of littering continued and the team’s approach was to clear it up as quickly as possible in order to encourage people not to litter and to treat the Heritage Coast with respect. In response to a query, Ms. Mills expressed the view that it was a difficult issue to police and that they tried to tackle it by providing environmental education to highlight the importance of conserving the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. A lot of litter had been washed in from the Bristol Channel, including a large number of aluminium cans.
Mr. McLaggan, from Merthyr Mawr Estates, stated that an appalling amount of rubbish had been washed up along the Ewenny and Ogmore Rivers which included cans, plastics and furniture. He advised that they had approached Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in order to try and find a resolution to this issue as it was a serious environmental problem. He further expressed the view that it was hugely expensive problem for landowners and queried if anything could be done via an initiative between the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend Councils. He appreciated that it was a difficult issue to resolve as it was hard for any one organisations to take ownership of the issue. Ms. Mills expressed the view that any joint initiative would need co-ordination between the two Councils and Mr. Guy concurred that it was a very difficult problem particularly as it was difficult to ascertain where the rubbish was coming from, however stated that the vast majority of people disposed of their litter properly.
Ms. Mills stated that there had been flood events which may have contributed to the large amount of tyres that had been washed up the estuary and stated that a campaign would be required which would include advising people not to store materials in flood risk areas. Mr. McLaggan stated that a huge amount of plastic was being washed up along the coast and that the appropriate Authorities had a responsibility for that to tackle the issue correctly. In response Ms. Mills stated that they employed work experience students and volunteers to help clear litter along the coast and that those involved had found it to be an enjoyable experience.
The Glamorgan Heritage Coast team now worked with the Public Rights of Way (PROW) team to carry out access work and the PROW team had employed contractors to carry out cut backs on certain routes.
Ms. Mills informed the Group problems had recently been experienced with drones being flown in the area which could potentially be of concern in terms of privacy and was of the understanding that drones could not be operated within a certain distance of private property. Mr. Guy, Operational Manager for Countryside and Economic Projects, stated that the operation of drones was regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) whose regulations stipulated that they could not be flown over certain areas used for recreation, such as crowded beaches. A representative of the Group advised that drones being used for the hobby purposes were not governed by the same CAA legislation. Ms. Mills was of the understanding that the permission of landowners was required if individuals wished to fly drones over their land.
There had been movement of stones noted in the last year, at Southerndown the movement had been so severe that the clay underneath had been exposed. Signs had been erected to advise people to steer clear of the cliff edge.
There had been cliff falls at Dunraven Beach and near Tressillian which had collapsed part of the Wales Coast Path, which had been rerouted after negotiation with the landowner. In response to a question with regard to the path being the subject of a formal diversion order, Mr. Guy advised that if there was a significant change to the official coast path, it would also need to be in agreement with Natural Resources Wales.
Several school groups had visited the Glamorgan Heritage Coast in the last few months and many were booked in throughout 2015. Ms Mills advised that education was a very important aspect of the work carried out by the Heritage Coast team.
Improvement works had been carried out at Dunraven Gardens, including the walled and Tudor Garden bed, which had been funded by Creative Rural Communities, the Council led Rural Regeneration Partnership.
A large number of guided walks had been carried out by the Glamorgan Heritage Coast team which had been very successful and helped to promote the Council’s Ambassador Scheme.
An open day was due to take place at Slade Farm near Llantwit Major which provided an opportunity for people to see how the work carried out at the farm fitted into the work done along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.
A lot of scrub clearance had been carried out at Cwm Mawr in order to encourage wild flowers, yet it was a very steep area to manage. Many wild flowers could be found along the coast such as Bee Orchids, Pyramidal Orchids, Cluster Bell flowers, and Tuberous Thistles. In addition, pond work had also been carried out and broad bodied chaser dragon flies had been found at Southerndown. A couple of breeding pairs of Peregrine Falcons and Choughs had also been sighted along the Heritage Coast and seemed to be doing well.
Winter and summer habitat management had been carried out, for which a two wheel tractor had been used which was extremely useful for the management of such steep landscapes and was part funded by Natural Resources Wales.
Outreach groups had taken on an area from the Woodland Trust at Monks Wood near Wick, volunteers had started work in this area in 2014 and the Glamorgan Heritage Coast team would continue to assist with this project.
The high brown fritillary butterfly work continued and the management of habitats had also helped to encourage flora and wildlife such as bluebells, purple orchids, adders, Yellow Hammers and the small brown fritillary butterfly.
Some tourist groups come to visit the Heritage Coast from as far away as Kent and the team was aiming to target these types of groups in the future. Some of the benches along the coast path and one of the gates at Ogmore needed to be repaired due to vandalism.
The Group was apprised in relation to the Creative Rural Communities Vale Trails project by and the Heritage Coast team had helped with the interpretation work for these walks.
Trees had been planted at Glas Tir in memory of a member of staff who had passed away in 2014.
In conclusion, Ms. Mills acknowledged the assistance provided to the management of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast throughout the year by various organisations including the Friends of Glamorgan Heritage Coast, Natural Resources Wales, Dunraven Estates, volunteers, landowners and local people.
(d) Presentation by Senior Rural Regeneration Officer, Nicola Sumner-Smith – Glamorgan Heritage Coast and the Rural Development Plan for Wales –
Ms. Sumner-Smith thanked the Group for inviting her to speak and gave a brief overview of her role within the Rural Regeneration Team, which supported all aspects of rural life across the Vale of Glamorgan, including many activities along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.
The Group was apprised in relation to the funding for Creative Rural Communities (CRC), Article 33 provided the funding from 2004 to 2007 and from 2007 to 2014 by the Rural Development Plan (RDP) and the team hoped that the CRC would continue to be funded by the RDP from mid-2015.
The Group was apprised about the work carried out by the team across the Vale of Glamorgan which included the following:
The installation and management of brown and white signage across the Vale of Glamorgan.
Improvement works funded by Article 33 at the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Centre, the installation of benches along the coast path and interpretation work.
Improvements to community facilities, such as the St. Donats Arts Centre and a community centre in Llantwit Major.
The team had worked with a number of organisations to deliver the ‘Explore and More’ touch screen kiosks which had been installed across the Vale of Glamorgan. The kiosks showed interactive films which aimed to raise the profile of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast and provided the viewer with information relating to the history of the county. A number of U-Turns had also been installed and enabled users to access information about a variety of locations in the county.
The last three years of the Rural Development Plan had seen the team involved in quite extensive improvements to the infrastructures across the rural Vale of Glamorgan, which included the installation of stepping stones, footpath, bridge and pathway improvements. Further work had been carried out to create the NC88 cycleway between Llantwit Major and Ewenny, historic stone stiles had been installed extensively across the Glamorgan Heritage Coast and the team had supported a variety of local businesses.
The team had been launched the “Pub is the Hub” scheme which provided support to rural communities by making basic services available at rural pubs and grants had been issued to meet the needs of local communities. In response to a question about the success of this scheme, Ms. Sumner-Smith advised that this was being evaluated.
Funding had also been provided to facilitate the improvement works at Dunraven Gardens for the walls, a summer house and the Tudor border.
In 2012 the team piloted a project known as Perfect Pitch, which allowed local landowners to set up temporary camp sites and coincided with the opening of the Wales Coast Path and the National Eisteddfod in the Vale of Glamorgan. The team had worked in conjunction with the Planning Department on the project which had been very successful. A number of the pilot campsites had now become permanent, which included campsites near the Three Golden Cups Pub in Southerndown and one at Monknash, the team continued to support the development of campsites in order to provide budget accommodation in the rural Vale of Glamorgan.
The team had supported six coastal activity projects, which had been well received and included the following:
Dylan Jones photography ramble course
Glyn Evans Photography carriage rides
Wild Spirit Bushcraft/Beach Wild food foraging courses
Oakwoods Bespoke Journeys
Through the Looking Glass – Pyramid Stained Glass course
Out to Learn Willow – Introduction to Willow courses.
The Rural Regeneration Team was working in partnership with the Tourism Team and had secured CRT funding to support the tourist information provision project. Nia Hollins, Principal Tourism and Marketing Officer would be leading on the project and had been working with the accommodation sector in order to set up tourist information hubs across the Vale of Glamorgan which would function as mini tourist information centres. This approach was more sustainable as they were located at existing businesses in the Vale of Glamorgan. The project also offered a service which distributed tourist information for local businesses free of charge. The aim of this project was to promote the Vale of Glamorgan as a tourism destination, rather than tourists only using the county as a base in which to stay.
The Group was provided with information in relation to Vale Ambassador Programme. Vale Ambassadors were individuals who lived in the county and wanted to share their local knowledge and had written ‘blogs’ on a variety of topics of local interest such as history, food, folklore, myths and legends. The Ambassadors were all listed on the Vale of Glamorgan Website. The Rural Regeneration Team was also working with two other partners, the Vale Tourism Association and More to the Vale who were interested in taking on the Ambassador Programme.
The Group was provided with an overview of the Vale Trails, a series of 10 walks at various locations in the Vale of Glamorgan. Several of the walks were along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast and the walks had recently been repackaged to include more specific information in order to make them more appropriate and appealing to visitors. Ms Sumner-Smith provided those present with packs which contained a variety of information on the work carried out by the team including the Vale Trails and Augmented Reality.
An Interpretation Strategy for the Glamorgan Heritage Coast had been developed in 2013 and a steering group had been established which included members of the Group. The Interpretation Strategy consisted of 3 tiers and the Group was informed that the Creative Rural Communities budget had been able to fund some of the implementation, such as the Ambassador Scheme. Static interpretation points had been installed at seven locations along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast which provided information on area. A website for the Glamorgan Heritage Coast had also been developed which provided information on the history of the area, activities and information of local interest.
The Team had formulated 12 Family Activity Tracker Packs and created augmented reality digital interpretation which provided a new and innovative way to interpret the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. The digital app provided people with 3D models of historical buildings and audio commentary which could be downloaded prior to visiting the area, feedback received so far had been encouraging. In addition a children’s game ‘Wreckers Run’ had been created which could be downloaded onto electronic devices. The Glamorgan Heritage Coast App was due to be launched shortly and provided people with information on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast and included a digital version of the Vale Trail walks and the Family Activity tracker packs. The team has also in the process of creating e-Tourism information points which would be piloted shortly.
The Group were also provided with information in relation to upcoming projects. The Big Lottery funded the two year Coastal Communities Project which would be led by the new Coastal Communities Project Officer. The project included the installation of five new storage facilities for hire at the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Centre and the improvements and reinstatement of the slipway at Dunraven Bay and a programme to support and encourage entrepreneurship around coastal activity and sport.
The budget for the overall Development Plan from 2015-2020 was £1.82m and the way that funding was allocated had changed in that the team would no longer hand out grants but instead would now be dealing with and commissioning projects. The Rural Community Development Fund totalled £57m for the whole of Wales and would fund projects, this budget would be administered directly by Welsh Government, but Creative Rural Communities would need to consider all applications for the Vale in relation to the fit to the local strategy before approval.
AGREED - T H A T Mrs. Sumner-Smith be thanked for her very informative presentation.
(e) Verbal Update on Current Issues - Mr. Bob Guy, Operational Manager - Countryside and Economic Projects -
The Group was provided with an update on the restructure of the Countryside Service and copies of the new establishment for the Service were circulated at the meeting. There had been a long consultation and re-design process involved with the restructure of the Service and Mr. Guy confirmed that the new structure was now in place. The new structure brought together all the Countryside and Environment Teams, including the Country Parks, Commons, Heritage Coast project, Landscape Architecture, Ecology and Public Rights of Way with the aim of providing a more integrated service.
The new structure included a Countryside Service Team Leader role, held by Steve Pickering, who was present at the meeting and introduced to the Group. One of the objectives of this role was to facilitate the integration of the service. The Rangers and Assistant Rangers would now work as a single unified service with just one Site Ranger specifically allocated to each of the main countryside sites, which would enable flexibility across the service in order that other staff could be allocated across the different sites as required. A new post of Commercial Opportunities Officer had been created; one of its main responsibilities would be to enhance the commercial activities across the countryside sites.
The Group was informed that Natural Resources Wales had been provided with more funding for coastal access programmes; therefore the Vale of Glamorgan’s Coastal Access Programme would be getting a significant investment. The Group was provided with a summary of the approved and unapproved investment work coastal access projects. The cost of the approved projects totalled £17,500 in 2015/16 and £19,500 in 2016/17. There would also be additional funds to maintain the Wales Coast Path. Mr. Guy advised the Group that if there were any queries in relation to these projects they should contact either himself or the Public Rights of Way Officer.
The Group was informed that a request had been received that a representative be sought from the Vale of Glamorgan Tourism Association to the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Advisory Group. Mr. Guy expressed the view that the request highlighted a gap on the Group from the Tourism Sector, and such representation would fit well with current priorities.
Following consideration of the request, the Group
AGREED - T H A T a request be put to Cabinet to recommend to Council that a representative be sought from the Vale of Glamorgan Tourism Association for the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Advisory Group.
Reason for recommendation
To enable a representative from the Vale of Glamorgan Tourism Association to be appointed to the Group.
(f) Matters Raised by Bridgend County Borough Council -
Councillor G. Davies advised the Group that a small car park had opened at Newton Beach which was privately run and operated on a pay and display basis.
(g) Matters Raised by Natural Resources Wales -
Mr. Richard Vesey, from Natural Resources Wales informed the Group that they had been carrying out work with the National Botanic Gardens of Wales and worked closely with Dunraven Gardens to augment the works that had been carried out at the gardens and thanked the Glamorgan Heritage Coast for their assistance.
(h) Matters Raised by The Friends of Glamorgan Heritage Coast -
Mr. Acott, Chairman of The Friends of Glamorgan Heritage Coast, informed the Group that they had called a meeting to consider the future of the Sea Watch Centre to see what could be done with the building.
Mr. Acott also asked about the progress of Footpath 55. In response Mr. Guy advised that they were currently in consultation on the draft Order.
Following the close of business, the Assistant Democratic Services Officer informed the Group that at its meeting on 26th January, 2015, Cabinet had resolved to prohibit the release of Sky Lanterns from all Council land, including schools, with immediate effect. Cabinet had further resolved that the prohibition on the use of Sky Lanterns would also apply to events organised by third parties that are held on Council property and that information be supplied to the media and details of the prohibition displayed on the Council’s website.