TWO valley areas in Carmarthenshire stand to benefit from a wider investment project across South Wales valleys council leader Emlyn Dole has said.
The Gwendraeth and Amman valleys were finally added to the Welsh Government’s Valleys Taskforce during the summer.
The task-force’s seven priorities include housing, transport, business support and employment opportunities.
Another of the priorities – called valleys regional park – aims to maximise the social, economic and environmental potential of the valleys’ natural and cultural heritage.
Funding for this priority has been allocated to create new discovery gateway sites, focusing on things like new mountain biking and play areas.
Now, Carmarthenshire council has formally signed up to the valleys regional park scheme, following a decision by the executive board.
“The intention is to benefit as much as possible economically, environmentally and culturally,” said Cllr Dole, who will sit on the valleys regional park board.
There are no financial implications at this stage for the council.
Cllr Dole said he was pleased the two valleys had been incorporated in taskforce, which was set up in 2017, but added that he had had to “fight” to get them recognised.
The Plaid leader said: “It has been a battle with certain Assembly ministers. There were were periods when we thought we were in, but we were refused.”
He said he was grateful to the relevant minister – taskforce chairman and deputy minister for economy and transport, Lee Waters – for adding the Gwendraeth and Amman valleys.
The Valleys Taskforce incorporates 13 counties, broadly replicating the footprint of the South Wales Coalfield.
There is an action plan up until 2021 with, among other things, £10 million pledged to bring empty properties back into use.
Cllr Glynog Davies said inclusion in the taskforce was a very welcome development for members, like him, who represented the Amman or Gwendraeth valleys.
“We do realise that there are some very disadvantaged areas in the Amman Valley and I am hopeful we will be able to benefit from what is proposed here,” he said.
Mr Waters said the Valleys Taskforce was modelled on how parks and the landscape had been supported in Stuttgart, Germany.
The task-force’s priorities, he said, complemented the more economy-focused city deals in the Cardiff and Swansea Bay regions.
“It’s about connecting people with their local environment,” said Mr Waters.
The Llanelli AM said while the Amman and Gwendraeth valleys had missed out on capital funding for discovery gateways, there were “off the shelf” initiatives they could access as well as funding for “community connectors” – people who encouraged the use of the outdoors.
He added: “I would hope there is additional funding after 2021 for the next phase.”