Two Welsh coastguard centres to remain open, Swansea to close

Milford Haven and Holyhead stations coastguard centres which were threatened with closure have won a reprieve, but Swansea, which was to be downgraded under the original plans, is now to close by 2015. The two reprieved stations were to shut, with Swansea reduced to operating only during daylight hours. But the strong local protests, including lobbying the chief executive of the coastguard service when he visited Milford Haven in February, sparked the policy change.

The Welsh Government said UK ministers would have to “account for any consequences” for sea safety.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said the UK government should perform a “U-turn” on its Swansea decision as it had done on the one for Holyhead and Milford Haven. Campaigns to save Milford Haven and Holyhead stations saw a 20,000 name petition go to Downing Street.

Eleven centres will remain open across the UK.

Source: BBC News

BBC Secret Britain programme – Langdon Bay revisited

The BBC’s recent Secret Britain programme has re-ignited interest in Langdon Bay, a fascinating part of the Dover coastline.  The programme as it’s name suggests, highlights some of the lesser known gems of the British landscape, and includes visits to Cornwall’s ‘secret’ coves, the ‘Cornish Alps’, and Dartmoor amongst other locations.

Of particular interest to us was their visit to Langdon Bay, as we already had a number of images in our Fan Bay/Langdon Bay/Crab Bay page.  We also have 360 degree panoramas of the SS Falcon shipwreck and Langdon Bay searchlight positions.

One of our site visitors Mike Verrall has made a visit to the wreck in the past few weeks and one of his images is shown here.

‘Castle to Castle’ swimmers help raise money for RNLI life

Around 230 swimmers including Television star Steve McFadden led raced across the River Fal on Sunday (6th June) to raising over £10,000 in support of the RNLI’s South West Lifeguard Appeal. Entrants were sent on their way by former Olympic swimmer, Sharron Davies and Laurence Reed from BBC Radio Cornwall.

Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell in the BBC’s EastEnders) said after finishing the swim:

‘It was tough, definitely harder than last year. I pushed it a bit too early and it was very choppy for the whole swim. The sense of achievement when you finish is amazing and I feel great. The RNLI is the most fantastic charity in the world, there’s nothing else like it. I thank all the lifeboat crew and lifeguards for what they do.’

The Castle-to-Castle swim began at Pendennis Point, Falmouth and ended on the St Mawes side of the river. The first man home on the one mile swim was John Parker (Cleveland, Bristol) in a time of 27 minutes and the first female back was 15 year old Nicky Russell (Truro, Cornwall).

Safety cover for the event was provided by the RNLI lifeguard team and the volunteer crews of the Falmouth all weather and inshore lifeboats.

Source: RNLI website – news releases

Increase in ‘excellent’ graded UK beaches

Nearly every beach in England and Wales has met Europe’s highest cleanliness standards this year according to Environment Agency tests.

The tests reveal the quality of water in 97% of bathing sites is of a sufficient standard to be classified as “excellent”.

But the agency says the results were based on early season sampling and could change over the coming months. It says the recent spell of good weather and action to reduce pollution from farms and sewer overflows are responsible for the improved test results.

The Environment Agency tests show a rise in the number it classifies as excellent of almost a fifth, from 76% 10 years ago to the current 97%. Inspectors take weekly water samples at 494 sites to measure pollution levels between May and September each year.

Last week the Marine Conservation Society rated 421 of 769 UK beaches as excellent – 33 more than 2009, but below the 505 rated highly in 2006. Its annual Good Beach Guide revealed more beaches have excellent water quality than last year, but pollution has worsened since 2006.

Source: BBC News website

National Trust Spring bonus

The National Trust’s parks, historic houses, buildings and gardens are opening for free for a weekend in March to give the British public a “spring bonus”.

National Trust properties will be open to the public free of charge on March 20th and 21st this year. People will also be able to park for free at all of the car parks giving  access to miles of coastline and thousands of acres of countryside.

Members of the public will be able to download a voucher from the National Trust’s website, giving them free access to sites and car parks, while existing members will be able to take advantage of a special offer over the weekend.  To download the voucher visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bonus

Source: Yorkshire Evening Post