Over the last two and half years or so, Anglesey has become a hotbed of environmental action. Maybe it is down to increased awareness of the subject, but Renew Wales, through one of its host organisations, Menter Môn, and local coordinator Jackie Lewis, has been supporting numerous groups on the island to look more closely at their community and their assets. They have learnt and understood more about the consequences of climate change and have then taken action. Here’s some brief stories about what has taken place, why, and what the impact has been.
The Iorwerth Arms in Bryngwran is currently the only community-owned pub on Anglesey. Managed by Bryngwran Cymunedol, it is a real community hub- the pub is a social enterprise, they arrange community events there and elsewhere in the village, host afternoon teas for local groups including a Dementia group and they raise money for good causes. They are also successfully adding to their portfolio of assets for the community by converting outbuildings into three units.
Bryngwran Cymunedol accessed an energy survey of the buildings which led to funding for installation of a solar array, battery, and heating system and they are currently working with Menter Môn on the installation of a EV charging point, which is funded by LEADER.
Benllech Village Green
The Benllech Village Green group is looking at several ways to improve their overall sustainability ‘credentials’. These include:
- improving the energy efficiency of existing community buildings and introduce renewable energy where they can,
- holding environmentally/climate change focussed events- especially linked to growing and biodiversity,
- encouraging healthier lifestyles and reducing car use by offering alternative community travel options and encouraging e-transport,
- buying local, recycled and upcycled products.
They received support from Renew Wales’ mentor Lizzie Wynn to look at planting up green spaces within the village and creating a one-way system towards the beach which encourages cycling and walking (thus reducing carbon emissions and traffic locally). They have also received an energy audit on one of their community toilet/shower blocks.
The Ffrindiau Llanfachraeth Group are bringing various interested parties together to benefit the whole village. A relatively new group, they are keen to make changes that will enhance the area and to learn more about what they can do to help combat climate change. Their ideas include:
- Lowering the village’s overall carbon footprint by installing solar energy in community assets and EV charging points for cars and electric bikes,
- Making better use of the village hall by incorporating it into the proposed ‘Green Space’ as a creative area,
- Re-cycling and Up-cycling schemes
- Re-purposing an unusable piece of land by creating a wetland/marsh area, introducing bee corridors, encouraging planting of trees for red squirrels and other species- encouraging biodiversity in the area
- Creating a memorial garden, making containers/planters and planting edibles- this will encourage intergenerational interaction and improve people’s health and well-being
- Supplying all homes with ‘Climate change awareness information’ to include tips on growing, food recipes, light pollution, energy saving devices etc.
- Ensuring all public footpaths are passable and have interpretation boards positioned outside village amenities.
Ffrindiau Llanfachraeth have received support for their communal green space and are looking for funding from Môn a Menai to complete the project. They are registered with Repair Café Wales with a view to set-up a scheme, they are recruiting volunteers to tidy up the village, and working with Menter Môn on the EV charging project.
Grŵp Llan Ni
Grŵp LlanNi is a newly- formed Not for Profit Company in Llannerchymedd set up to support community projects. Llannerchymedd is situated in the rural heart of Anglesey and has an interesting history which includes crafts as well as significant historical and archaeological heritage. As well as traditional village facilities such as a school, church, pubs, a shop, and garage, it has a social community space incorporating a community garden and privately run café (next to an old disused railway).
The community, via Grŵp LlanNi, has expressed an interest in learning more about EV charging points (cars and bikes) and creating a repair and reuse facility/community hub. They are also keen for opportunities to network with other groups in the area to learn about climate change and to share stories and experiences, with a view to positively contribute to changing attitudes and habits in Llannerchymedd in the future.
Llangefni Town Football Club was established in 1876 and has a large membership of around 220. The Club has objectives that go beyond just football as they are concerned with the population’s well-being more widely. They would like to re-develop and maintain the Cae Bob Parry Stadium for sporting, educational and leisure purposes, and build relationships with local organisations that promote the benefits of sport for the well-being of people with physical, cognitive, or learning disabilities. They want to promote the club’s facilities as wider community assets and a hub that could, in partnership with other organisations, provide space for activities for local young people.
They especially want to improve the energy efficiency performance of the new community building, to hold environmental/climate change focussed events at the ground and reduce the use of car journeys to the club. They also want to look at product purchasing and want to buy local, upcycle, recycle, and become plastic free. Renew Wales has linked them with three mentors- Lizzie Wynn has supported them plan a community garden within the grounds in partnership with Mencap, Cerys Jones from Repair Café Wales who has helped them with the feasibility of running repair events in partnership with Men’s Sheds and Glyn Hudson who has helped them consider all aspects of EV charging points. So great strides have been taken!
The Trustees of Canolfan Beaumaris took over the leisure centre in 2012 due to public sector cuts. They have around 30 volunteers who help provide a safe, up-to-date multi-use facility that is well-used by groups and individuals from the local community and further afield. The centre offers leisure and sport opportunities, and social interaction via meeting rooms and events, a cinema and on-site catering. They have recently acquired the local on-site library and the community centre and now host the local Men’s Sheds project. So it is a very busy venue!
Y Ganolfan is a leader in several initiatives to raise awareness about environmental issues and help make changes in the community; it has installed a solar power system within the leisure centre building; it has installed an EV car charge point in the car park; it has encouraged the centre and local businesses to set up basic re-cycling schemes such as cans and paper; and has been involved in a plastic free initiative and received the accreditation. They received mentoring support via Renew Wales on environmental awareness raising, sustainable planting schemes and guidance on repair and reuse initiative. They are also working on additional EV rapid charging points once a new electricity supply to the library is connected. An electric vehicle has been acquired which can transport wheelchairs, which is of enormous benefit to those who have mobility issues and need to access classes at the centre.
Penysarn Village Hall
The Trustees of Penysarn Village Hall have a responsibility to keep the hall for the benefit of community members in Penysarn and Llaneilian- it needs to be an up-to-date, multi-use facility that can be used by community groups for a variety of purposes and making the hall as energy efficient as possible is a major priority for the group.
Renew Wales facilitated an energy audit carried out by Sustainable Communities Wales which led to funding to fit an air source heat pump and its additions. They will have to wait some time before being able to measure the system’s ‘official’ benefits, but they have started the journey to a cleaner fuel source.
Llaneilian Community Council
Llaneilian Community Council, on the North-East coast of Anglesey is keen to look at a variety of issues. They want to encourage healthy lifestyles by better managing public footpaths and natural habitats, to offer services to encourage e-transport linked to community hubs, to buy local products and recycle as much as possible. However, they also thought about something rather different to most groups, which involved looking at creative and environmental ways to conserve community assets- especially bus shelters. They thought about under-used/disused bus shelter in the area and encouraging cyclists and walkers to use them as picnic areas or stops! The covid pandemic has meant that this has not happened, but they are now re-evaluating their position on budget and will hopefully resurrect the scheme in the future. They received support from Lizzie Wynn who spoke to them about vertical planting and ways of encouraging biodiversity around the shelters.
Members of the village Hall committee in Llanfaelog manage the local hub and garden for community use and are very ambitious to ‘do their bit’. They were keen to look at lowering the carbon footprint of the hall- by installing solar panels on the building and creating EV charging points for cars and electric bikes and looking at bulk buying schemes to include broadband. Additionally, they’ve had support from Renew Wales to create allotments for children to use and further planting work at the community/memorial garden including edible plants. It is very much hoped that this will be an on-going intergenerational activity and will aid people’s health and wellbeing.
Llanfaelog Community Council – Rhosneigr Library
The Rhosneigr Library is managed by Llanfaelog Community Council.
The village is largely made up of expensive holiday and second homes, and so is very dependent on tourism. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the village endured overpopulation, wild camping and some animosity between visitors and the local population led to environmental issues, including excessive traffic and litter. As mentioned above, this group is committed to improving the accessibility of EV charging points for cars and electric bikes and to have energy saving measures undertaken in the building, as suggested by the Sustainable Communities Wales audit. The library has been recognised as an ideal place to base the recycling and upcycling schemes as well as it being a more general hub for raising awareness of local environmental action and activities.
Mencap Mon is a charity supporting people with a learning disability and are currently looking at becoming an active social enterprise. They are considering taking on the running of Melin y Graig, a disused windmill in Llangefni, and a nearby disused residential house. They want to improve the biodiversity and introduce planting schemes in the urban area surrounding it. There are many other ideas and plans including a community café, a local museum, and undercover facilities for families. All this development needs to have sustainability at its heart and so mentoring options are being explored around energy audits and energy saving solutions at their existing hub and the potential new ones, for feasibility of EV charging points, and support with the growing/ biodiversity aspect and the café development, alongside community consultation about it all!
Holyhead Maritime Museum
For Holyhead Maritime Museum the biggest issue is energy bills- costing around £600-£1000 per month. Due to Covid-19 the museum was closed for many months during 2020 and 2021, but energy is a constant concern as they need to keep museum exhibits at the correct temperature and humidity levels for proper conservation of the artefacts whether they are open or not! They have a strong desire to better manage this in the future. Their extensive collections (inside the oldest lifeboat station in Wales) include local and national maritime history and World War memorabilia. The Renew Wales co-ordinator lined them up with Sustainble Communities Wales to undertake an energy audit which offered options for many no-cost improvements, low costs, and some others to consider when funding allows. Also on their agenda is attracting more cyclists and so they are considering cycle racks with EV charge points, and possibly PV panels on the roof if their listed status allows. They are very aware of the wider effects of climate change as tidal erosion and rising sea levels are real issues here and they are located right on the shoreline. This influences their ability to extend the building. They are preparing a new business plan for a funding bid to enhance/extend the museum and are including research into suitable means to reduce energy consumption and waste generation.
Old School, Llanddona
This is another group who have lots of ideas, such as energy efficiency and renewable energy generation, holding climate change-focussed events especially linked to growing and biodiversity, providing a central hub for accessing support and engagement to help build resilience within the community and to encourage healthy lifestyles, reduce the use of cars by offering alternative community travel options. They chose to start with the renewable energy issue and were part of the National Lottery Community Fund’s Climate Action Top-up pilot programme. They had an energy audit which resulted in solar panels being installed on their roof.
Other community groups who have asked for our support more recently are:
Menter Amlwch – who are keen to explore an e-bike scheme, develop a more attractive and useful outdoor area for a care home- possibly some food-growing beds.
South Stack Lighthouse- They want to encourage greater numbers of visitors and that they reach there by walking or cycling. They want to create a stopping-off point near a disused quarry with a seating area and some sensitive planting.
and Hwb Cemaes CIC – it was set up to manage the closed library building and the group want to get to grips with energy efficiency and renewable energy options for the building.
Lots of small changes made locally can help mitigate the impacts of climate change and ‘word of mouth’ has gone a long way to creating a ripple effect on the island. This all adds up to results which will have bigger impacts for future generations, and of course much of the work is on-going. Jackie Lewis has been a key part of supporting and steering the groups towards funding opportunities and the mentoring they needed to move things forward.
As they say “everything has its time” and considering the number of groups taking positive action it appears that now is that time for Anglesey.