Natural Resources Wales’ latest flood risk maps can be viewed at Flood Map for Planning (naturalresources.wales) It accompanies a revised advice note, Technical advice note (TAN) 15: development, flooding and coastal erosion | GOV.WALES, that makes it clear that new developments of homes, the emergency services, schools, and hospitals, must not be located in areas of high flood risk without strong flood defences. If a local planning authority is minded to approve any scheme against this advice, ministers will be notified and able to decide the application directly.
The new flood map identifies four types of flood zone, with each zone having particular advice in TAN 15 for proposed developments. The zones are based on current risk levels with the addition of allowances for climate change. The map will be updated in May and November each year to reflect the latest modelling and data on flood risks. For all development in areas of low risk and areas protected by strong flood defences, and for less vulnerable developments in areas at high risk, securing planning permission will be dependent on passing acceptability tests set out in TAN15.
Several community groups will be pleased to learn that the Welsh Government has taken issue with Monmouthshire County Council’s Preferred Strategy for its Replacement Local Development Plan. Responding to the recent consultation, WG’s Chief Planner has said that the strategy’s scale of growth is not, as required, in general conformity with Future Wales: The National Development Framework. The response points out that the strategy proposed almost 5,000 more homes 2018-33 than the government’s mid-range projection, and according to county council figures this would mean no need to allocate any more housing land.
As Monmouthshire’s strategy planned to allocate new land for over 3,600 more homes, the difference between the bodies is large. Meetings and deliberations are planned before planning officers make recommendations on how the county council should proceed. The council could defy the WG response and continue on its present course in the hope that the Inspector will eventually agree with them. But if the Inspector supports the government or a compromise well short of MCC’s plans, there would be an even more embarrassing waste of time and money and a late need to rethink the plan. The sooner the difference between the bodies is reduced to a reasonable level, the better.
It is noteworthy that Cardiff City Council, at an earlier stage in its new Local Development Plan, is moving towards lower growth despite being a growth area in Future Wales, unlike Monmouthshire.
Speckled Wood Wildlife https://www.speckledwoodwildlife.co.uk/ , run by Nicky and Roo Perkins, specialise in Birds, Butterflies, Dragonflies and Moths with the aim is to increase people’s awareness of the nature on their doorstep, and run courses suitable for all levels. based in Pontypool, they offer Zoom-based evening courses blended with field trips around the South East Wales/ South West England region. They are happy to offer free Zoom or in person talks on a variety of subjects. They are on Facebook at – https://www.facebook.com/SpeckledWoodWildlife
Welsh rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths has refused plans for a 150 hectare solar farm between Cardiff and Newport that would have powered 32,000 homes for 40 years against the advice of an inspector, citing harm to the Gwent Levels designated landscape.
Following a hearing, Inspector Hywel Wyn Jones recommended the scheme for approval. Griffiths was satisfied with many of the inspector’s findings, agreeing that the scheme complied with green wedge policy and would have an acceptable impact on nearby heritage, archaeological and coastal designations. She was also satisfied that the scheme would be compliant with flood risk policy, and that biodiversity enhancements could be secured by planning condition.
However, she did not agree with the inspector regarding the scheme’s impact on the Gwent Levels, a nearby designated landscape of historic interest. Contrary to Jones’ recommendation that the harm he had found to the landscape should attract only moderate weight, Griffiths found an “unacceptable” impact. Although she acknowledged “the need for renewable energy in order to combat the climate emergency” and the strong support for low carbon energy generation in the Future Wales 2040 plan, she noted that the appeal scheme would be in situ for 40 years. “This is the equivalent of two generations, a significant period during which an appreciation of the outstanding historic quality of the landscape would be affected”, she ruled. Concluding that the scheme’s adverse impacts outweighed its benefits, she rejected the application.
Monmouthshire County Council is updating its action plan to reduce its impact on climate and is keen to receive ideas on working with communities to cut carbon emissions. Monmouthshire’s action plan followed its declaration of a climate emergency in 2019, and committed the council to cutting its own carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 while working with residents and organisations to help reduce climate change. Despite good progress – including encouraging active travel and recycling, switching to renewable energy, purchasing electric vehicles, installing energy-saving measures and changing its management of green spaces – the council recognises it needs to intensify its actions if it is to meet carbon reduction targets.
Residents and organisations can assist the council to develop its climate action plan by participating in an online survey – shorturl.at/ekpET – or attending a drop-in session at Abergavenny Library on Monday, 20 September from 2pm to 5pm where the council will display its plans for the future and receive ideas to enhance them. The council will also run a stall from 10am to 4pm at the Monmouth Climate Futures Festival on Sunday, 26 September where contributions from the community will be welcomed.