Neighbouring Newport is consulting on a strategy designed to pull together actions aimed at reducing Transport pollution – more cycling and walking, more EV charging points, planning policy, etc. It can be viewed at http://www.newport.gov.uk/en/Transport-Streets/Sustainable-travel.aspx.
This is the name of a pilot project that will provide the Monmouth area with information and ideas to encourage more bees, butterflies and other insects to populate and pollinate the town’s gardens, meadows, hedgerows and verges. Funded by the Welsh Government with EU money, the project will run until June 2020, via a partnership including Bee-Friendly Monmouthshire and the County Council. Follow @natureisntneat on Twitter and Nature Isn’t Neat on Facebook. There is a survey at www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/nin/ and contact NiN@monmouthshire.gov.uk to keep up with the project activities in the coming months.
The prospect of a shake-up in Welsh planning law appears to come a little nearer with the Welsh Government’s interim response to a 2018 Law Commission report. The urgent need to simplify and consolidate planning law is confirmed, reducing delays and costs that some may find unaffordable. A phased introduction of a Planning, Land and Building Code would bring all the relevant legislation in a single place. The response is at https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2019-05/interim-response-to-the-report-on-planning-law-in-wales.pdf and a detailed response is due by the end of November.
On 16 May Monmouthshire County Council will consider a motion from Liberal Democrat Cllr Jo Watkins of Caldicot to declare a Climate Emergency and reduce its own carbon emissions to zero before the Welsh Government target of 2030. The full motion is at https://democracy.monmouthshire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=143&MId=3758.
First Minister Mark Drakeford has backed the work of deputy transport minister Lee Waters (once with Sustrans) with WLGA to look at what needs to happen to make 20mph the speed limit in all residential areas across Wales. While this regulation alone would have safety benefits, it raises questions about education, enforcement and changes in road design if the benefits are to be maximised.
This week the Welsh Government declared a Climate Emergency to strengthen and galvanise action at home and internationally, from our own communities, businesses and organisations, to Parliaments and Governments around the world. Lesley Griffiths has now welcomed advice from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) which updates the 2017 advice, reconsiders the emissions reductions possible in Wales and makes recommendations intended to ensure Wales is able to fulfil our global responsibilities. The Committee recommends that emissions of greenhouse gases in Wales can and must fall by 95% over the next 30 years if we are to make our fair contribution to the UK’s commitments made in the Paris Agreement. This would cut long-lived greenhouse gases to below zero and effectively end Wales’ contribution to rising global temperatures. In galvanising action from all levels of Government, communities and sectors, Welsh Government will take a lead and meet the calls for action of people of all ages concerned about the impacts of climate change. They will deliver on the commitments set out in A Low Carbon Wales, as the 100 policies and proposals are vital steps in Wales’s low carbon journey. We will also seek to build on the action we have already taken, for example upscale the level of building retrofit in Wales and deliver on our ambition for a carbon neutral public sector by 2030. WG have agreed to review their 2050 target and report back to the National Assembly before setting the third carbon budget by the end of 2020. The Committee’s advice is available at https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/net-zero-the-uks-contribution-to-stopping-global-warming.
SEWBReC will be running a BioBlitz with the Living Levels Project team, and would like to invite recorders of all abilities to join them. The event is taking place at Caldicot Castle on Friday, 17 May 10am – 3pm. They will be showcasing the LERC Wales App plus looking for species in the various habitats in the country park. You can view a species list for the site here. If you are interested in attending you can drop in at any time during the day, or feel free to get in touch with SEWBReC for more information
With the First Minister’s decision on the M4 relief road now expected early in June, CALM are encouraging campaigners against the road to do all they can to influence the Government, especially in the context of the latest IPCC report and Extinction Rebellion protests. Meanwhile the Director of CBI Wales is suggesting that concerns about the cost might be dealt with by smart automatic tolling of those choosing to use the road. Mr Drakeford’s decision will be followed by a six week opportunity to seek a judicial review and Cabinet spending approval will also be required.
The Welsh Government has published its response to the Chapter 4 Access proposals that were outlined in the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources consultation. The Government will progress significant changes to access rights and facilitate an assumption of non-motorised multi-use on access land and the public rights of way network. This will provide users such as cyclists and horse riders with many more opportunities to access the outdoors near to where they live in line with the goals set out in the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015 and complementing the provisions of the Active Travel (Wales) Act and the Environment (Wales) Act. An independent Access Reform Group will develop ideas such as allowing cycling and horse riding on footpaths.
The next round of expressions of interest in the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Management Scheme opens on 21 May. It is widely open to organisations that operate principally in a rural area and are engaged in agriculture, forestry or other land management, and aims to support collaborative landscape-scale projects delivering action that improves our natural resources in a way that delivers benefits to farm and rural businesses and rural communities. It will also support and facilitate coordination with other schemes to undertake the vital action needed to improve the resilience of farm and rural businesses and rural communities to climate impacts. Partly EU-funded, the scheme closes in 2020.