20mph Pilots for Monmouthshire

Welsh Government plans for a default 20mph speed limit on Welsh roads have moved a step closer as eight pilot areas to trial the change have been confirmed. The pilot areas include Abergavenny and Severnside and will have a phased start from this summer until the end of the year. They come ahead of the planned national rollout for April 2023, and will help develop enforcement arrangements and overcome unforeseen issues before the full rollout.  The pilots will focus on community engagement, meaning that as well as developing enforcement arrangements they will communicate the value of the new speed limit, making the case for reduced speed leading to more cohesive and safe communities.  The County Council made bids for the pilots and will implement them.

MCC Sessions for Local Food Growers

Monmouthshire County Council is to host a series of online discussion and information sessions aimed at small community growers, market gardeners, allotment holders and traditional farms in addition to businesses interested in using local produce. Featuring key speakers, the first session will be held at 4pm on Thursday 18th February and it will open discussion on key aspects of food development in the county. The meeting will be held via the Microsoft Teams communication platform.

Businesses and producers interested in participating in the first session should contact Monmouthshire’s Rural Food Development Officer, Deserie Mansfield – DeserieMansfield@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or telephone 07816 066046 by 12noon on Thursday 18th February.

A Legal Commitment to Reach Zero by 2050

Welsh Government has set out its legal commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, but is pushing to “get there sooner” as it gets ready for COP26 (26th United Nations’ Climate Change Conference of the Parties) in November. The move comes following a recommendation by the independent Climate Change Committee (CCC), that revealed net zero emissions, previously thought unachievable and unaffordable by experts, was now possible with ambitious policy and a ‘Team Wales’ effort.  The new evidence from the CCC says greater reductions within the industrial sector will help achieve this goal, as a large proportion of Welsh emissions come from a small number of big emitters, such as Port Talbot steelworks.

The report also highlights the need for everyone in Wales to do their bit to drive emissions down, with more than half of the recommendations being partly or fully driven by societal or behavioural changes.

Welsh Government has already announced a suite of measures this year to respond to the climate emergency and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.  These include plans on achieving cleaner air, putting an end to harmful agricultural pollution, a decisive shift away from fossil fuel extraction and towards green energy, working towards a net zero public sector in Wales by 2030, and going beyond recycling and making Wales a zero waste nation.

The Minister’s statement is at Written Statement: Wales’ pathway to achieve net zero emissions (9 February 2021) | GOV.WALES

NRW Shows Us the Way

Natural Resources Wales has launched a ‘milestone’ report: the State of Natural Resources Report 2020 is the evidence base that assesses how sustainable is the management of natural resources in Wales, building on the first report in 2016.  It suggests that redesigning the energy, transport and food systems of Wales could help society to live within its environmental capacity and address the pressures causing the nature and climate emergencies.  By re-assessing the individual actions we take, making pro-environmental behaviours the easiest choice, and taking opportunities for systems change through policy development, the report aims to present real opportunity for change.

These changes could include:

  • Reducing food waste
  • Promoting sustainable agricultural and agroecological practices that work with nature
  • Better urban design and planning such as connecting green spaces
  • Setting aside more space for nature
  • Moving towards low carbon and renewable energy
  • Redesigning the transport system as a whole, around sustainable options

The report is at: https://naturalresources.wales/evidence-and-data/research-and-reports/state-of-natural-resources-report-sonarr-for-wales-2020/?lang=en.

White Paper for Clean Air

The Welsh Government has put out a clean air white paper for consultation, which includes proposals for a new air quality target setting framework alongside plans to improve the local air quality management regime. It also includes plans to introduce a new dedicated charging scheme for trunk roads, further anti-idling guidance and the power for local authorities to increase the amount of fixed penalty fines for idling. The paper is at https://gov.wales/white-paper-clean-air-wales-bill  and comments are needed by 7 April