The Western Mail recently carried a feature about the rare whitebeam trees of the Wye Valley, being protected by a partnership of the Forestry Commission, the Tree Council and Dean Green Team. Trees high up on the valley cliffs have been surveyed and more light has been let in to help their survival. There are more than twenty varieties of whitebeam in the valley, six of which in the Symond’s Yat or Doward areas occur nowhere else in the world. One is named after Monmouthshire botanist Trevor Evans.
Monmouthshire CC’s Cabinet is expected this week to endorse a consultation report on the review of the Local Development Plan 2011-2021 – https://democracy.monmouthshire.gov.uk/documents/s12389/1.%20Cabinet%206%20December%202017.pdf. A review of the plan adopted in February 2014 must begin within four years of that adoption and the aim must be to adopt a revised plan before the end of 2021 in order to avoid a policy vacuum. The consultation report provides an overview of changes likely to be needed to the LDP, and stakeholders are invited to comment on these and to suggest additional issues or changes. With a shortfall already in a five-year supply of housing land, housing land allocations are likely to be an inevitable concern. Responses to the consultation will be needed before early February.
The National Park’s ‘Shape My Brecon Beacons’ project, which helps communities to write their own Place Plans, has been selected as a finalist in the Royal Town Planning Institute Cymru National Awards. Community leaders are supported to involve residents and other stakeholders in shaping the future well-being of their town or village, within the context of the Local Development Plan.
The Welsh Government has called on Whitehall to do more to support onshore wind and solar energy. It is one of a number of signatories to a public statement issued today, which urges the UK government to enable onshore wind and solar technologies to compete in Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction rounds. Both onshore wind and solar are currently excluded from bidding in CfD auctions. Other signatories include the Welsh Local Government Association and Community Energy Wales.
The Welsh cabinet secretary for energy, Lesley Griffiths, said ‘onshore wind and solar present the best opportunities to manage the costs of generation to energy bills.
The UK has invested over £9bn in developing the renewables sector and costs have successfully been driven down. However, the rapid changes in UK government policy have decimated large parts of the renewable sector, with potentially valuable developments to Wales stopped in their tracks by UK ministers.’ In 2015 alone, four new wind developments in mid-Wales with an installed capacity of over 300MW were refused by UK government. ‘The bulk of UK government renewables investment is now going to offshore projects outside of Wales,’ said Ms Griffiths. ‘This investment is paid for by Welsh bill payers, amongst others. A policy framework which enables the most affordable projects to continue to form the bulk of energy supply is fundamentally important to delivering our decarbonisation and prosperity goals.’
The Law Commission has finalised for public consultation its detailed and substantive proposals for simplifying and consolidating planning legislation in Wales. It can be accessed at https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/planning-law-in-wales/, where there is also a summary, and the consultation closes on 1 March next year.
A CALM attempt to persuade Newport City Council to change its position and oppose the M4 Black Route has failed. CALM maintain that as well as damaging the Gwent Levels the new motorway will offer no economic benefit to Newport, which will be by-passed, and that it is an outdated response to transport needs.
MCC are holding community engagement sessions on the plan (see Nov 17 post):
- Monday 27 November Caldicot Hub 10.30am – 2.30pm
- Tuesday 28 November Abergavenny One Stop Shop 10.30am – 1.00pm
- Tuesday 28 November Abergavenny Library 1.30pm – 4.00pm
- Wednesday 29 November Monmouth Hub 10.30am – 2.30pm
- Monday 4 December Chepstow Hub 10.30am – 2.30pm
- Wednesday 6 December Usk Hub 10.30am – 2.30pm
Welsh Government figures show that fly-tipping is getting worse – 37% worse in Monmouthshire compared to 80% worse in Newport, hardest hit of the Welsh counties. Waste tipped on farms costs landowners an average of £844 to clear, says the CLA. Fly-tipping of domestic waste has decreased slightly. An Abergavenny man was recently fined £200 plus £2,000 costs for tipping garden waste on the Blorenge.
As the M4 public inquiry draws to a close, the Campaign Against the Levels Motorway is considering post Inquiry campaigning via three subgroups who would like your help:
Direct political influencing – led by Catherine: email@example.com; Making our arguments across Wales – led by Natasha: firstname.lastname@example.org; Local grassroots campaigning – led by Sarah: email@example.com.
The joint Closing Statement of The Wildlife Trusts, Friends of the Earth, CPRW and the Woodland Trust, which is available at: http://tinyurl.com/M4statement.
Following the production of Monmouthshire’s Well-being Assessment in March, Public Service Board partners have been working together to develop the Well-being Plan for the County. This sets out four objectives and steps that the PSB will take to deliver these objectives. The Well-being Plan is now online at www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/our-monmouthshire. A survey to respond is also going online. The partners want to know what people think of the draft Plan.
If you would like to find out more, go along to a public meeting that Transition Chepstow have kindly organised next Thursday, the 23rd, at 7.30pm at the Beaufort Hotel in Chepstow. Hazel Clatworthy will be giving a bit of background on the well-being assessment and what the evidence is showing, and then talking about the Well-being Plan and how you can get involved.