Wales has been battling issues in the environment for many years. One major turning point was in 1966 when a coal mining disaster led to the death of 144 people, 116 being school children. An avalanche of coal from a dumping site slid down a mountain and destroyed a schoolhouse as well as much of a village. Years after the cleanup, Wales still suffers from its environmental issues.
Erratic weather patterns have increased flood problems and have caused billions in damage, natural climate changes have caused issues, and continuous air pollution has resulted in serious health problems among residents. The government is working now to make sustainable changes to combat these problems and bring Wales back from environmental disasters that continue to plague the country.
Read on to learn more about the current issues throughout Wales and how government and agencies are working to provide solutions to create a healthy and natural environment for residents and visitors.
Pollution is something that impacts every country worldwide. You can easily find an essay on air pollution that will define the problem and provide statistical data. Wales is known to have one of the worst air pollution issues in all of the UK, and pollution in Wales presents a large environmental risk to public health.
The impacts of air pollution are estimated to lead to 1,400 premature deaths each year in Wales. There are short and long-term problems caused by polluted air and reports from the World Health Organization show it can make asthma worse, decrease lung function, increase cardiovascular issues, and has a high impact on death rates.
Legal compliance is measured regularly to check air quality across four different zones. Three of these have illegally high levels of NO2, with South Wales being the second-worst zone in all of the UK in 2020. Particulate matter is also measured in air samples, and based on a 2019 World Air Quality Report, there were 40% Welsh locations with levels far above the limit of PM2.5. The main source of pollution is burning solid fuels and exhaust from vehicles.
The Welsh Government is working to combat this issue and adopt strict guidelines for levels of PM2.5. More than 60% of roads in Wales measure this recommended level. Ministers are also working to establish low-emission zones. Wales and its environment battle this poor air quality issue daily, and these pollutants also make their way into the water systems.
2020 offered a Clean Air Plan that provides management initiatives and targets. These include promoting electric vehicle use, investing in better travel infrastructure, and developing an Air Pollution Monitoring Network that will focus on vulnerable members of communities while helping to improve the environment and make use of natural resources.
Flooding has been a major problem in Wales for many years. Despite some measures that have been taken along with new regulations passed, the various losses from flooding are still quite high. In the past 10 years, more than 120,000 homes have been constructed in known flood areas. A committee was created as part of the Environmental Act 2016 called Flood and Coastal Erosion Committee. This advises Welsh Ministers on sustainable management and risk management matters throughout Wales, offering awareness programs and preparation information.
Every year, floods cause billions in damage in Wales. During rainy seasons rivers overflow and cannot be contained, leading to property damage. Wales has many waterways and coastal regions, making it prone to flooding, especially during heavy storms. When damage occurs, homeowners can be forced out for months, even years, and will be at high risk when it comes to re-insuring property.
To combat this issue, flooding is being dealt with by adding sustainable drainage systems. It is important for people to understand the ways flooding can be prevented or damage avoided, so government programs inform developers of risks when developing on flood plains and the environmental risks of doing so.
Flooding remains a constant issue every year. Weather changes bring stronger storms that cause flash flooding and wipe out entire streets. Since 2016, more than 390 million Euros have been invested in managing flood risk, which has successfully reduced risk to 45,000+ properties. With a new National Strategy in place, grant rates will be raised to construct coastal defenses, and there is a new flood management program in place.
Climate change has been a huge issue in Wales and it is being caused by harmful emissions. The government is taking steps to cut down on emissions while improving the economy with better jobs. Research from 2015 by the Energy Saving Trust showed that homes emit the most emissions. A proposed solution is to create energy efficiency programs for residential homes. The goal is to bring all homes in Wales to a Band C, which would cut emissions, create jobs and combat fuel poverty.
By becoming a sustainable nation, it would be low-carbon and efficient with all resources. In addition to making homes efficient, there is also great importance in finding ways to reduce the amount of energy used. Tackling climate change will be an ongoing process; however, the government has already taken some great steps. There is a climate emergency in Wales, and here are some things that are being done:
- Cut Carbon Emissions by raising reduction targets to 50%
- Investing in public transport and other forms of transportation to reduce car usage
- Banning single-use plastics
- More charging points for electric vehicles
- Establishing renewable industries like a new marine energy sector
- Increase use of natural resources