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Climate Change Minister Julie James has today (Wednesday, May 25) announced £26m to limit the carbon footprint of tourism in Wales, boost biodiversity and improve access to the countryside so all can enjoy its beauty.

First published:
25 May 2022
Last updated:

The Minister made the announcement as she opened an electric vehicle (EV) network in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park – it is believed to be the most extensive network in any UK national park with 74 charging points.

The Minister explained that the funding would be used to help make tourism more sustainable and Wales’ countryside more resilient following the growth of staycations during the pandemic. 

Some of the ways in which it will be used include:

  • making improvements to transport and tourism facilities, particularly around visitor hotspots
  • improving footpath networks with a particular focus on disability access
  • funding projects that will improve Wales’ National Parks so they can better store carbon and provide better protection for wildlife

The Minister said:

As more people are discovering the magic of the Welsh countryside, we must make sure it can deal with the pressures.

Our vision is of a countryside where communities can continue to work and flourish, where visitors can enjoy whilst leaving only footprints behind, and where plants and wildlife can make a real comeback.

Nature is providing us with the tools to tackle the climate and nature emergencies, whilst still having the power to make us all feel better within ourselves when we connect to it- it’s only right we do what we can to look after it.”

National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty cover 25% of Wales and play a big part in enabling people from all backgrounds to access the countryside safely.

Home to peatlands, farmlands and endangered species, effective management of the countryside is seen as invaluable in tackling the climate and nature emergencies.

During her visit to west Wales, the Minister also met with a disability access scheme on Saundersfoot beach, which provides specially designed wheelchairs so users can navigate the sandy terrain with ease.

She also met a local walking group who say their social meetups to explore their area has improved their mental health.

The Minister added:

Investment in access to the great outdoors is a flagship policy for the Welsh Government for the multiple benefits it provides.

Beyond the economic opportunities of tourism, connecting with nature has been scientifically proven to improve both mental and physical health.

Pioneering projects such as the Wales Coast Path enables walkers to trek its entire 1400km coastline, whilst plans are well underway to create a National Forest for Wales that stretches from the north to the south of the country.

Tegryn Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park added:

This funding has helped us make more electric vehicle charging points available across our National Park, moving us further towards our goal of becoming a net zero National Park.

In turn, this will enable more residents, visitors and businesses to reduce their carbon footprints and support the Authority’s on-going campaign, which urges people to ‘tread lightly’ during their trip to the Pembrokeshire Coast.

Sustainable Landscapes, Sustainable Places is a Welsh Government capital fund for improving access to the countryside and supporting more sustainable and resilient landscapes and communities. Funding is in several separate streams.

Total allocations
Programme 2022-23 Allocation (£000) 2023-24 Allocation (£000) 2024-25 Allocation (£000)
Landscape Fund - Collaborative Projects 250 400 400
Landscape Fund - National Parks  2,400 2,550 2,550
National Landscape Partnership 115 125 125
Landscape Fund -  AONBs 875 1,000 1,000
Sustainable Development Fund AONBs 400 400 400
Wales Coast Path and National Trails 1,425 1,675 1,675
Access Improvement Grant (Rights of Way) 1,685  2,000 2,000
Allotments Development Grant 750 750 750
Total Capital agreed 7,900 8,900 8,900