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15/05/2020

Changes to Welsh green regulator’s remit announced

Words: Roger Milne
Tree planting / iStock-845218618

The Welsh Government has set Natural Resources Wales (NRW) a number of new and repurposed priorities to target renewable energy, flood alleviation, tree planting and biodiversity.

These are set out in a letter from environment and energy minister Lesley Griffiths to the green regulator.

In it, she stresses its pivotal role in supporting the transition to renewable energy.

“I want to see NRW build on this work to develop a positive approach to both enabling and delivering renewable energy development, on and offshore, in line with the government planning frameworks, including the marine plan. 

“This should also include delivery of our renewable energy targets and policy on increasing local ownership of energy generation which means investing in the skills required for the green economy, to promote growth and inspire innovation.”

The minister urges NRW to “maximise the delivery of its new flood programme in the coming year, including more emphasis on natural alleviation measures in collaboration with local authorities and the public”.

In terms of tree planting NRW is now expected to “adopt a proportionate, evidence-based approach to verifying proposals for planting and for processes to be tailored towards accelerating progress in delivering new woodland in a way that meets or exceeds government targets”.  Woodland cover is set to increase by 4,000 hectares annually soon.

NRW will also be expected to work closely with ministers on the creation of a national forest. This will involve improving access to and restoring some of the country’s ancient woodland, as well as identifying “exemplar sites” to form part of the initiative.

Griffiths stresses that the green regulator has a key role in halting and reversing the decline in nature.

“I would like to see NRW make strides to restore its own Natura 2000 sites and to take forward the planned programme for restoration of degraded peatlands to create healthy functioning wet bogs,” she writes.

Image credit | iStock

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