The Welsh Government has approved a huge solar farm south of the former steelworks at Llanwern, Newport. The Gwent Farmers Community Solar Scheme, where 250,000panels will power 15,000 homes, is the first renewable energy ‘development of national significance’ to be approved under new procedures.
Many Welsh planning authorities have found that they are failing to meet the Government’s expectation that they have a five-year supply of available housing land, despite adequate unused allocations in Local Development Plans. This year the Government allowed councils to disregard the ‘considerable weight’ to be attached to this consideration when dealing with applications for unallocated sites – especially helpful where the LDP revision process is underway, as in Monmouthshire. In September the county council decided that ‘appropriate weight’ should be given to this consideration, and defined a list of ‘ground rules’ to be satisfied.
Since the beginning of August Monmouthshire CC has approved in outline or detail land for about 600 homes, 240 of which have been on unallocated land. Over 100 of the latter at Raglan were considered to satisfy the new policy despite strong counter-arguments. The county must now have a five-year supply, provided that developments proceed to detailed approval quickly. There are more applications on unallocated land to be decided, but we must hope that any substantial releases are only made via the LDP revision that will have to provide for our needs up to 2033. No doubt that will also prove controversial but at least it will be the outcome of a careful process with which all can engage.
A Select Committee of MCC is to consider a new Litter Strategy and Action Plan for Monmouthshire. The report – https://democracy.monmouthshire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=139&MId=2624 – refers to the increased expectations of the public for dealing with litter and changes in the type of litter. Last year, for the first time in ten years, there was an increase in street litter, and budget cuts are likely. At this stage councillors are asked for their views on options for action.
GAVO are holding a Big Lottery Funding Surgery (Awards for All and People and Places programmes) at Bulwark Community Centre, Chepstow, on Tuesday, 13 November (10.00am – 4.00pm). Booking required by 8 November – contact email@example.com.
Ex-Sustrans AM, Lee Waters has criticised the decision to remove Severn-crossing tolls because this is expected to increase motorway traffic by around 25%. He believes the scrapping of tolls by the UK Government is to make sure the Welsh Government presses ahead with the controversial M4 Relief Road.
This Public Health Wales resource has been created to support actions that address and enhance the health and well-being opportunities afforded by the natural and built environment. The resource focuses on six priority areas: walking and cycling infrastructure, green and blue spaces, food growing and retail, local community, health, and care facilities, air pollution, and building design.
The Campaign Against the Levels Motorway will soon be submitting its petition – http://action.wildlifetrusts.org/page/30798/action/1 – to the Welsh Assembly, and campaigners are urged to email Carwyn Jones – https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-proposed-m4/. The recent warnings from the IPCC may encourage you to act, as many are.
Welsh Government Secretary Lesley Griffiths and her UK and Scottish equivalents have written to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) asking for advice on when they should achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions from across the economy. The governments also want advice on:
- Whether the government should review its 2050 target of cutting emissions by at least 80 per cent relative to 1990 levels to meet international climate change targets set out in the Paris Agreement.
- How emissions reductions could be achieved in industry, homes, transport and agriculture.
- The expected costs and benefits in comparison to current targets.
The letter follows the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) warning that governments must act now to avoid disastrous climate effects. It also marks the first Green GB & NI Week. The committee has been asked to submit its evidence by the end of March 2019.
Monmouthshire CC would like your views on their proposals for the Cross area of Caldicot: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/2018/10/15/monmouthshire-county-council-is-seeking-views-on-proposals-for-the-cross-area-of-caldicot-town-centre. By 26 October please.
Today’s Western Mail Country and Farming section highlights the acrimonious debate over the post-Brexit future of the Welsh countryside. Wildlife groups have generally welcomed the Government plans to stop direct subsidies and to pay farmers for ‘public goods’ such as habitat improvement. Farming groups want the retention of some direct support for food production, their key role, and resent the implication that many farms can only be viable with new roles. They are suspicious that a partnership approach will be led by environmental interests. Plans to greatly increase tree-planting at the expense of food production, to lower carbon emissions, are a further concern – on a day when an IPCC man said that his top priority would be that we stop eating meat.