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Sustainability in Neath Port Talbot

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Neath Port Talbot is one of the local authority areas of Wales and is the 8th most popular. They have implemented various strategies and plans to resolve the issues of sustainability. The word ‘sustainable’ also has many different meanings, it can be referred to give a support or relief, to supply with sustenance and nourish, also to cause to continue and to prolong something. All of these are to do with continuity such as ‘prolonging’. The word ‘sustainable’ is also known to be positive which is why many councils such as Neath are now trying their best for local areas to become as sustainable as possible and for them to be known as ‘desirable’.

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There are also key concepts of sustainability that needs to be taken into consideration, they are, the social progress that will recognise the needs of everyone, effective protection of the environment including wildlife, to use natural resources and to maintain high levels of economic growth and to have local employment.

The Neath Port Talbot area stretches from the coast to the Brecon Beacons National Park, the upland areas are cut by five valleys including, Vale of Neath, Dulais Valley, Afan Valley, Swansea Valley and the Upper Amman Valley. The largest town in Neath has a population of 47,020 and followed by Port Talbot with 35,633 altogether including all the separate towns.

The Neath Port Talbot local authority planning officer has outlined that the plan will cover 2011-2026, the original plan has been altered numerous times since the published date (Sept 2011). The Sustainability Appraisal considers how effective the LDP addresses the sustainability issues within the Neath local authority. It is aimed to enhance the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of people and the communities within it, allowing them to have a better quality of life for our generation and future ones. The main aims being to promote social justice and equality of opportunity and to enhance the natural and cultural environment and respect its limits, using a reasonable share of earth’s resources and to sustain the cultural legacy. Other aspects of the plan include protecting our wildlife and countryside allowing them to stay green and not become over polluted, reducing the effects of climate change since if the sea level rises local beaches in Swansea such as Rhossili will become threatened. A big aim is to reduce all types of pollution, this includes noise, air and water, this means local communities that are strong and healthy can be improved more by allowing better access to jobs and services while still reducing the traffic and congestion in the area. Neath Port Talbot (2011) Sustainability Appraisal: LDP Pre-Deposit Plan Interim Report, Neath Port Talbot: Neath Council.

The Current Situation

The Neath Port Talbot county council consider sustainability one of their core principles. The council’s day to day activities focus around the principle of sustainability and how they can make Neath Port Talbot the most sustainable region in Wales. The Neath Port Talbot county council already have numerous schemes which have been implemented across the region to produce a more sustainable area in South Wales.

The Neath Port Talbot council monitor the quality of the air, land and water in the county. They have a team dedicated to monitoring of pollution in the Neath Port Talbot locality. Monitoring pollution is imperative for a more economically sustainable county. The council have developed a local air quality strategy with the key aim being "Air Wise- clean air for everybody" sets out the council’s policy for achieving cleaner air within the whole community. It also links with the councils aims and values and in particular with those relating to "sustainable communities an environment" and the "prosperity for all" which includes improving air quality and regenerating those areas within the community with physical and old industrial environments. The strategy was originally developed in 2000. This plan was developed due to the fact that heavy industry which surrounded the area had temporarily destroyed the environment around Neath Port Talbot, this plan was key in gaining back excellent air quality which in the future will improve the local communities and the future environment.

The council additionally monitor the quality of the water which surrounds the Neath Port Talbot area. High quality bathing waters are important for a wide variety of interests and to support the local tourism industry. The beaches in the area are exceptionally popular during the summer months which generates a vast amount of economic benefits for the area. By monitoring the water quality it safeguards the environment and the tourism industry. Which in the long run makes it environmentally sustainable and economically sustainable. Additionally the council identifies and keeps a register of the contaminated land use in the area. They do this to protect the people that currently live there and also to protect those that live there in the future. Once these contaminated areas have been identified the council then carry out a clean-up operation of that specific area, this ensures that the region stays as environmentally friendly as possible, this will warrant their environmental sustainability. Another step in ensuring environmental sustainability is the new and improved recycling service implemented in July 2014. They aim to make it easier for households to recycle more materials at the kerbside more often. They implemented colour coded boxes for different materials known as recycle plus (+). The council drives to increase recycling by encouraging local communities to get involved. They have also introduced another sustainable scheme across small villages within the borough known as "The Big Bin Swap" which encourages more people to make the switch sorting waste into smaller wheelie bins, in places where recycling rates are low. Replacing bins with 140 litre capacity, to guide locals into seeing the benefits to the environment and also the economy in recycling.

Socially the Neath Port Talbot county council have implemented the Communities First Programme in the most deprived areas in their borough which launched in 2002. They work to address the issues needed to improve the quality of life in the local area. Neath Port Talbot county council focus on four community clusters. They sought to support any activities which involve the local people. They provide some measure of economic, environmental, social or cultural benefits. There have since been many hundreds of projects which have all involved the native communities in the area.

Thinking about the future

Sustainability is one of the councils’ core principles and is specifically addressed in the Single Integrated Plan, this plan sets the framework for all of the councils functions and services. The main vision of this plan is creating a Neath Port Talbot where everyone has an equal opportunity to be healthier, happier, safer and prosperous. The main principles include: • Early intervention • Collaboration and service integration • Community cohesion • Sustainable development- examining the impact of our work on people, communities and natural resources in the area • Reducing poverty

The fundamental reason for the current stress of sustainability in the area and the drive for a better sustainable future are to protect the communities and environment present. The communities and environment are vital yet most fragile aspects of Neath Port Talbot. The development of the third sector to provide services for and within communities themselves will help strengthen the community’s’ capabilities. Additionally, improvements across all housing tenures are necessary to ensure that the communities maximize their full potential. However, the historic heavy industrial past has left the area with one of the highest per capita carbon footprints in the UK. There is a fundamental need to reduce their carbon footprint as far as possible by changing the way the residents are living while at the same time ensuring that they enhance the natural environment and protect future generations.

The local authority is stressing a great deal on the social aspects of sustainability and how the sustainable development will affect the lives and culture of the dwellers. The protection of the welsh language in the communities where the Welsh language is important is necessary in promoting social sustainable development for Neath Port Talbot as it is a primarily welsh language driven area. The focus is also great on the support and funding involved. For instance, the local authority support and promote development of social enterprises and encourage third sector organisations to become grant independent and generate more income through trading and other sustainable income sources. This conveys the need to work more sustainably as well as live more sustainably.

Summary

"It needs to be remembered after all that sustainable development and sustainability were not originally intended as ‘economic’ terms. There were, and remain, essentially ethico-religious objectives, more like ‘social justice’ and ‘democracy’ than ‘economic growth’. And as such, their purpose or ‘use’ mainly to express key ideas about how society – including the economy – should be governed." If the council do not focus and put sustainability as one of their main priorities then the whole climate change situation would get a lot worse, resulting in higher greenhouse gases affecting the environment. Sustainability is not a permanent stop to global warming but it does delay it, for example it delays the sea levels rising meaning cities on the coastal areas of the UK and others across the world will be less prone to the effects of flooding.

References

Sustainability in Neath Port Talbot Wikipedia


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