Chris James from Welsh Government joined Environet to host a webinar to discuss the need for this consultation and what kind of information they’re hoping to gain from consulting with the people and organisations of Wales. Watch the recording here.
Chris was able to provide insight into the background, an overview of the purpose of the consultation exercise and take participants through the various sections of the consultation document.
There are lots of challenges facing Wales, especially in light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Many of the key pieces of environment related legislation are EU directives. Areas including biodiversity, farming and forestry, fisheries, air pollution, waste and climate change. It is now the job of the UK Government to translate EU legislation into British law.
In Wales various Acts including the Planning (Wales) Act 2015 and the Environment (Wales) Act 2016, set out Wales’ approach to the planning and management of natural resources in a new joined up and proactive manner. The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 gives us a new approach in policy design and implementation – looking more holistically at measures and regulatory approaches to ensure integrated consideration is given to economic, social, cultural and environmental issues.
On August 21 Welsh Government published their Natural Resource Policy which provides a national evidence base on how natural resources are being managed and highlights the key challenges for Wales with regards to the sustainable management of natural resources. The policy seeks to ensure that risks to the natural resources of Wales are mitigated but also that the opportunities that they give us are maximised effectively in terms of well-being.
The consultation document – Taking Forward Wales’ Sustainable Management of Natural Resources – sets out a number of specific proposals in specific areas such as forestry, water and wildlife; it also seeks general views on whether there are potential new opportunities in terms of regulatory approach related to the sustainable management of natural resources. The proposals seek to work in contribution to the delivery of the goals of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 and ensure that any new policy is holistic in approach to the sustainable management of natural resources.
The consultation also looks into the regulatory framework and the application of designations such as National Parks, SSSIs and AONBs; with the recognition that some policy was created reactively and in isolation from social and economic policy. Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs has highlighted to need for a holistic and integrated approach and realignment of different policy areas.
Chris went on to explain that, once the consultation period has closed, Welsh Government will analyse the results and the policy framework surrounding the sustainable management of natural resources. The next stage will then to determine as to whether new policy or amendments to existing policies are required in order to ensure that the regulatory framework is unified with a purposely designed approach.