The adoption of well-loved beauty spot in Carmarthenshire has been given the green light thanks to an innovative partnership between Welsh Water & Llanelli Rural Council – the community adoption is the first of its kind in Wales.
The partnership could attract 90k+ visitors a year by creating a hub for recreation, health and wellbeing at the Swiss Valley Reservoirs in Llanelli. Initial plans include improvements in visitor infrastructure (car parking, toilets, footpaths and a pontoon) and biodiversity enhancements, working with local volunteers. The aim is to reconnect people with water and our beautiful environment whilst protecting, conserving and enhancing the conservation value of the site.
Swiss Valley Reservoirs (Cwm Lliedi) which surrounds the urban centre of Llanelli in Carmarthenshire is already a well-loved local beauty spot, popular with walkers, course anglers, and widely used by families. Concerns about the deteriorating infrastructure around the reservoir led Welsh Water to moot the idea of a partnership with a suitably experienced body such as Llanelli Rural Council in early 2018.
Welsh Water Chief Executive Peter Perry said, “This is a milestone in our efforts to develop this cherished community asset. As a not-for-profit company, we are owned on behalf of our customers – and we want to create a sustainable hub that everyone can enjoy as access to outdoor green and blue space has never been more important. We hope this partnership will provide a real blueprint for other community adoptions in the future. Without the support and enthusiasm of Llanelli Rural Council, the adoption would never have been possible”
Councillor Giles Morgan, local ward member for Swiss Valley added, “The Reservoir is very well thought of by the residents of Swiss Valley, Llanelli and beyond. There is excitement in the community at the prospect of this pioneering adoption scheme between Dwr Cymru and Llanelli Rural Council proceeding. People want the reservoir to have financial investment, but they are also offering to invest their own time to help look after this “jewel” of a community asset. This scheme has the full backing of my community and we can’t wait for it to start.”
The development of Swiss Valley reservoirs for access and recreation will support a green recovery in Wales. It will also support the delivery of The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015 which requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other. By working in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council, Welsh Water believes that Swiss Valley can contribute positively to this vision to meet the recreational, health & wellbeing needs of residents and visitors alike.
Llanelli Rural Council Leader Councillor Tegwen Devichand said today, “We are delighted to be working with Welsh Water by entering into this community adoption agreement, which is the first of its kind in Wales. While the initial agreement covers a five-year period, this is just the beginning as far as the council is concerned. It is our intention to develop the reservoir sensitively over time so that it becomes a popular destination of choice both locally and regionally.
“We are particularly excited by the prospect of not only safeguarding a highly regarded natural local beauty spot but moreover, we plan to add to the current offering by developing a mix of onsite water based activities and other facilities through the provision of licensed course fishing and paddle sports opportunities as well as refurbishing the current toilet block and car park. We believe these initial set of improvements will carry widespread appeal with the local community with them complementing and adding to the current enjoyment of this wonderful natural visitor attraction. Not only this but we intend creating a full time Ranger post to help with the management of the site.”
The ‘wellbeing’ concerns of local people have included quality and availability of play and green areas, level of community involvement in keeping the environment clean; lack of local amenities; and loneliness, isolation and lack of socialization. Keeping the area clean and encouraging greater community involvement in tackling issues are identified priorities through this project.