monmouthshire

Environment Partnership Board

 

Working Together for our Environment

 

Notes of Board Meetings

15 January 2014: The meeting discussed the value of the Board in the context of a likely reduction from 9k to 5k annual funding.  The coordination, networking and small partnership project work of the Board was agreed to be valuable, particularly if a Natural Resources Wales representative chairs the Board and has a place on the Local Service Board.  Volunteer capacity building is a new area of EPB interest linked to the Single Integrated Plan (and Whole Place Plans), and MCC Countryside Service is exploring collaborative projects in this area.  It was noted that at a time when volunteering is increasingly necessary the resources available to support and coordinate this are being reduced.  The next round of the Rural Development Plan might assist.  Other matters discussed included:

  • MCC moves to establish a strategic level transport group or forum and work with communities on local transport plans.
  • Plans for a bioblitz in the grounds of Abergavenny Castle and Museum.
  • The imminent adoption of the Local Development Plan and an early start on the next one to meet needs up to 2031; the BBNP LDP has also been adopted and included community led plans as supplementary planning guidance.
  • A possible landscape improvement project to extend the success of water vole reintroduction at Magor Marsh.
  • Solar farm applications and MCC work on supplementary planning guidance for renewable energy.

16 October 2013: A well-attended meeting heard comprehensive presentations on the Single Integrated Plan and Whole Place Plans (Will McLean, MCC), Community-Led Plans (Shirley Hughes, Adventa) and Monmouthshire Action Plans for Sustainability (MAPS) (Eileen O'Haire, RDP Vital Villages and Severn Wye Energy Agency).  Discussion focused on the increasing relevance of communities setting and delivering their own agendas, help from MCC officers and others, and the differences in the success of engagement at countywide, urban and rural levels.  Other matters included:

  • Thanks to Sue Mabberley, EPB Chair since 2007, who is leaving NRW; it was agreed that her NRW successor should inherit the Chair and be a member of the Local Service Board.
  • A successful Compost It event had been held at Chepstow, chaired by MCC Deputy Leader Phil Hobson.
  • Current issues including the M4 consultation (http://www.m4newport.com/), Abergavenny and the National Cycle Road Race in 2014, the possibility of another bioblitz in 2014, and the forthcoming Wye Valley AONB Management Plan consultation.

17 July 2013: Clare Parsons from the Brecon Beacons NPA described their Scrutiny Review of the Inspiration and Benefit of Living in the Park, one of the goals of the Park's management plan.  Despite the difficulties of measurement, it was concluded that 53% were positive in their views and 36% negative, and an Action Plan had been devised by Authority member Margaret Underwood particularly emphasising improvements in communication with the local community and community councils.  Also:

  • The Bioblitz at Caldicot Castle Country Park, a partnership event arranged by the EPB Coordinator, had been enjoyed by the public attending and recorded 214 species; other sites showed interest in similar events.
  • A community composting event is being organised by MCC for 28 September, and MCC's new policy of licensing suitable land for community food growing is progressing, as is a reappraisal of roadside verge management policy with action for pollinators in mind.
  • The results of RegenSW research for Welsh Government on installed renewable energy capacity and NRW research on the cumulative landscape impact of smaller wind turbines would be sought.
  • The scope for partnership environmental projects related to Whole Place Plans, village plans, etc needed consideration at the next meeting.

24 April 2013: Rachel Jowitt gave a presentation on Monmouthshire CC's household waste management review and impending collection changes that are intended to reduce the amount of recyclables in black bags and raise revenue from garden waste bag permits.  Over 70% of black bag contents are currently recyclable, half of this food waste, providing considerable scope for improving the county's 54% recycled rate.  In discussion she admitted that in the future more kerbside sorting was likely to be necessary to meet government targets.  The scope for secondary school use of the One Planet Centre at Llanfoist was also discussed.  Other matters included:

  • The Dig It Monmouthshire event held in April and attended by about 50, featuring a presentation on Incredible Edibles Todmorden and MCC moves towards community group adoption of unproductive council land.
  • CCW (now NRW) support for the Board would continue in 2013/14 but is not assured beyond that; funding the Coordinator might then depend on securing grants for Board partnership projects contributing to the Single Integrated Plan.

19 December 2012: Tom Clarke, CEO of Gwent Wildlife Trust outlined the priorities of the Trust, fifty years old in 2013 with 29 nature reserves, 432 active volunteers, 10,153 members and 24 staff.  Among the Trust's current concerns are proposals for M4 relief, the Severn Barrage, waste incineration at Llanwern, the motor racing circuit at Rassau and fracking.  Projects include Living Landscapes restoring and connecting habitats in the Usk to Wye area, the Levels (the recent acquisition of Barecroft Common will enable habitat restoration beyond the Magor Marsh reserve), and the Eastern Valleys, and the Natural Assets programme with MCC and landowners establishing voluntary reserves on small holdings.  He regretted the difficulties of liaison with the Glas Tir scheme for holdings over 3ha.  Linkages with the work of the EPB were noted.  Other matters discussed included:

  • A possible green volunteers event with Tidy Towns, Vital Villages, the National Park and the AONB.
  • A bioblitz event at Caldicot Castle and Country Park.
  • The need to ensure that environmental issues are taken into account in the Single Integrated Plan.
  • The forthcoming review of the AONB Management Plan.
  • A second Eco Open Doors event in April 2013.

23 October 2012: A presentation by the County Council's Waste Strategy and Resources Manager was full of interesting facts on household waste production and recycling.  Now achieving 55% recycling rates, the Council has to reach 70% by 2024/25 and has found that over half the contents of 'unrecyclable' black bags would have been recyclable.  A public consultation on a strategy to improve performance is to start soon, and the Board discussed several relevant issues.  Other matters included:

  • A review of Action Plan progress and the need to retain, amend or delete actions.
  • The prospects of environmental content in the Single Integrated Plan.
  • MCC work on resilience to climate change.

20 July 2012: The main topics were:

  • The future of the smaller Local Service Board and the Single Integrated Plan was described by Will Maclean of the County Council.  A new SIP document will be put forward for comment in September and is likely to focus partnership working on low earnings and the county's larger than average carbon footprint, partly a result of rurality issues.  The SIP will be based on a strategic needs assessment leading to 3-5 priorities; environmental data evidence is needed.  The Board was pleased that Monmouthshire's SIP was likely, like the Community Strategy, to include environmental measures related to climate change and rurality.
  • An EAW presentation on the Water Framework Directive provided interesting information on Monmouthshire issues and partnership working.
  • The Welsh Government consultation on an Active Travel Bill which was broadly welcomed with significant reservations about the availability of resources for delivering the proposals.
  • A Board response to the consultation on a Sustainable Development Bill, also generally supportive.

18 April 2012: A presentation by the Crucorney Energy Group demonstrated the breadth of activity that can be achieved by a community of about 620 households - woodland management, charcoal making, hurdle making, allotments and PV panels on the village hall.  A community electric car is being considered.  Other matters included:

  • Progress on some elements of the Board's Action Plan and continuing concern that the Local Service Board's Single Integrated Plan could sideline environmental issues and the Partnership.  However, the LSB's continuing interest in climate change adaptation and resilience was welcomed.
  • The Community Climate Champions' Eco Open Doors event in March, which had resulted in over 200 visits to 28 properties and positive feedback, including 28 with firm plans to install RE technology.  Meet the Installer events had been less successful.
  • The cancellation, for lack of support, of a Creating an Active Monmouthshire event for volunteers, and the need to rethink and reschedule this for the autumn.
  • The work of CMC2, the County Council's community interest company, currently focusing on renewable energy projects (possibly to include a trade food waste anaerobic digester) and digital tourism.
  • A new Environment Agency Wales funding scheme for improving the water quality of rivers etc.
  • The viability of Monmouthshire GreenWeb if EPB funding is lost in 2013/14.  Business plan consultants have been engaged.

11 January 2012: The current Rural Development Plan programme - http://www.monmouthshirerdp.org.uk/ - was summarised by a member of the new Monmouthshire Enterprise team before the Board considered inter alia:

  • Proposed revisions to the Board's Terms of Reference (agreed) and a more focused approach to the Action Plan via sub groups.  (The Local Service Board has since required that the Board develop the Outcome Based Accountability approach so that it may be incorporated into a future Single Integrated Plan (SIP))
  • Concern that the Welsh Government's draft SIP guidance fell short of that for Community Strategies and particularly failed to recognise the need to deal with environmental issues.  A Board response is to be made.
  • Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF) bids for an eco-homes open weekend and pilot home improvements at Overmonnow (both subsequently successful);
  • The probability that sufficient CCW funding would be available in 2012/13 for the Board to continue its work.

12 October 2011: Despite expected CCW budget cuts, it was agreed that EPB coordination should continue to be a priority, despite/because of Welsh Government aim to halve the number of partnerships and integrate strategies.  Other matters included:

  • Available evidence (difficulties of measurement noted) suggested that the Local Service Board's 10:10 target had not quite been achieved.  An Action Plan workshop on Changing Climate, Changing Places is to be held.  The Kafka RE project needs a qualitative assessment to check whether front-line practice has changed - still apparently inconsistent planning decisions?  Still more scope for promoting RE schemes.
  • Proposed Single Environment Body for Wales moving forward, but some Board members concerned that this would result in unhelpful delays, lost opportunities and loss of local knowledge.
  • Community Climate Change Champions planned RE event on 19 October and on Eco-homes in March 2012.  Abergavenny has produced leaflet on householders who will show their green technologies by appointment.
  • EPB Action Plan to be rationalised and made more achievable.
  • Wye Valley AONB 40th anniversary events and progress including a Code of Conduct for Canoeists, the Overlooking the Wye Project, a Sustainable Tourism Strategy, a Youth Ranger Scheme, and an application with partners to run a Nature Improvement Area pilot project.
  • Funding approval for the MCC unimplemented consents project (see 13 July).
  • MCC Green Deal progress on RE installations on MCC buildings, community loans and a rent-a-roof scheme.

13 July 2011:  We met at the new 38m Mabey Bridge plant at Newhouse Farm, Chepstow, which already has a capacity to make 450 steel wind turbine sections a year.  The main matters dealt with were:

  • The commitment of the Local Service Board making its climate change subgroup a standing, rather than task-and-finish, group, following up 10:10 campaign monitoring, the Kafka RE project and more work on climate change resilience and adaptation.
  • The EPB's contributions to the Creating an Active Monmouthshire Plan aimed at increasing voluntary activity in caring for green spaces and increasing awareness of the county's biodiversity via an annual 'bio-blitz' event.
  • Difficulties in adapting the EPB Action Plan to the currently favoured Outcome Based Accountability approach.
  • The County Council's pioneering Biodiversity Action Plan for Rights of Way Maintenance and Enforcement.
  • Gwent Wildlife Trust surveys to identify, and give management advice for. Local Wildlife Sites, funded via the Welsh Rural Development Plan.
  • A cross-border response in the AONB to England's Nature Improvement Areas.
  • A possible project looking at the potential impact of unimplemented past consents on more recent EU wildlife designations.
  • The Deposit Version of the Local Development Plan, to be published for consultation in the autumn;  elected members had added the county's first 'green belt' at Chepstow.

13 April 2011:  Dr Nicola Perkins, Director, described recent and planned developments at Mulberry House Environmental Study Centre, the venue for the meeting.  The main other matters dealt with were:

  • Updates on the work of the Local Service Board, its Kafka project, and MCC's Green Deal team.
  • Possible initiatives to replace the Board's Green Energy Area, such as a rural development event in partnership with adventa or a funding fair with GAVO.
  • The Business Breakfast Waste Forum, held in partnership with the Board, which had conveyed valuable information but been poorly attended by the business community.
  • The need to adapt the Board's Action Plan to the Outcome Based Accountability process; a training session is to be arranged and a health-related outcome added to the Plan at CCW's request.
  • The reduction of CCW funding support for the Board from 2012/13.
  • Recent partnership actions to deal with fly-tipping on the A465 north of Abergavenny, in the Bulwark/Thornwell area of Chepstow, and the Chapel Road area of Abergavenny, maintaining the cooperation generated by the Tidy Towns project.

12 January 2011: This meeting focused mainly on:

  • The County Council's new Green Deal programme which brings together the Council's dispersed sustainability functions and especially concentrates on implementing renewable energy technologies, raising income for the Council and creating jobs.  A partnership community energy saving programme will initially focus on part of the Overmonnow ward at Monmouth.  A Green Deal Project Board of experts advises the Council, which is promoting photovoltaics for 'quick wins'.  The Board had some concern that the Green Deal might overemphasise energy matters at the expense of other sustainability concerns.
  • Draft proposals for restructuring the Council's Policy and Partnership Team which could threaten the Council's sustainable development work with communities.  A response was agreed.
  • Environment Agency Wales's staff training on climate change which was considered an excellent model  worthy of adaptation for other bodies.

The meeting also decided that the Green Energy Area at Usk Show would not be repeated in 2011 as there are now other means of promoting the messages; the timing of a paper on climate change for the Local Service Board and the forthcoming requirement that organisations report on adapting to climate change risks to the Welsh Assembly Government; and the Local Service Board's Kafka Brigade action plan on reducing the barriers to micro-renewables.

20 October 2010: The main matters considered were:

  • The WAG consultation on Living Wales - a natural environment framework - an important document, if somewhat challenging for non-specialists.  Board response by 31 December, depending on members' responses.
  • Concern that the new Community Strategy would lose the environmental strengths of the present strategy if it focused on statutory strategies for community safety, health and wellbeing and children and young people.
  • Fly-tipping projects of the Environment Agency on A4042 and, with MCC, at Thornwell, Chepstow.  The Tidy Local Communities project ends in March 2011.
  • Updates on the Usk to Wye landscape project, the Wildlife Trust Orchards and Living Churchyards projects, and their roadside verges project in the Gwent Levels (aimed at extending the range of the rare shrill carder bumblebee).
  • The Local Service Board-led Kafka Brigade project to overcome barriers encountered by renewable energy schemes; case studies have been selected.
  • The new MCC Chief Officer's report on the New Green Deal.  Ms Beirne to be invited to the Board's next meeting. 

7 July 2010: The main agenda item was a contribution to the review of the Community Strategy, expected to be complete by April 2011.  Board members felt that the seven strategic outcomes put forward by the statutory partnerships were too broad, long term and unspecific to Monmouthshire, and did not reflect challenges such as peak oil.  The need for 'continuous sustainable economic growth' was questioned, as was the absence of reference to the rurality of Monmouthshire and the need for effective public transport.  The Board hoped that the best features of the current Strategy would not be lost, and agreed to contribute a paper on climate change adaptation to the September meeting of the Local Service Board.

Other matters considered included:

  • Further work on the review of the Board's Action Plan, particularly enabling progress to be measured via 'milestones'.
  • The need for a Waste Forum meeting; a business waste theme was agreed, but the need to re-establish interaction between the County Council and community groups was raised.
  • Every school now has an energy audit and steps are being taken to train staff and governors.
  • The Green Energy and Climate Change Area at the Usk Show on 11 September.
  • Reconsideration of the Usk to Wye landscape project following an unsuccessful bid for Heritage Lottery Fund support; the added value of the partnership will continue with prioritised actions and EPB administrative support.
  • The welcome WLGA Climate Adaptation Guide for local authorities.

14 April 2010: A discussion on the presentations at the February meeting centred on the barriers to the development of renewables, such as planning and licensing requirements, species protection and requirements that authorised contractors be used.  Some felt that these constraints deterred many vital small developments, but others felt that the negotiating process in an area where gaps in scientific knowledge invoked the precautionary principle worked well if time-consuming.  More guidance/encouragement is needed, and the Local Service Board is starting a project that will establish conflict facts and, if necessary, take these to WAG.  The EPB Action Plan will be amended to provide advice etc that will supplement the forthcoming Local Development Plan.

Most of the remainder of the meeting reviewed the Board's Action Plan; a revised version will be available on line in due course.  Among the matters arising were:

  • The need for the Waste Forum to consider business waste.
  • A Transport Forum should be held in the autumn of 2010.
  • The need to strengthen the training content of the plan and to make better connections with the Health and Wellbeing Partnership. 

17 February 2010: This meeting was focused on the National Park's Green Valleys Project and the work of Transition Chepstow and Transition Monmouth.

  • Grenville Ham's presentation on the grant-winning Green Valleys Project described how it was a community-owned project aiming to be self-financing within three years.  At present it is focusing on low risk, high return projects, mainly small hydro-energy projects on mountain streams.  The new feed-in tariff scheme unfortunately requires accredited installations, where many locations require tailor-made solutions.  Other project work includes allotments, a biodiesel club, community woodlands, and work in the uplands to prevent carbon-releasing erosion.
  • Marcus Perrin described Chepstow's aim of making the town the most insulated in Britain and initiatives such as fruit and nut tree planting, promoting fabric bags and inputting to the Local Development Plan.  They had unfortunately failed in the British Gas Green Streets competition and, with MCC, the Low Carbon Communities Challenge, but still hoped to make progress in some of the areas submitted.
  • Simon Brown spoke for Monmouth, which had similar projects to Chepstow.  A community orchard is being planted and they have worked on carbon calculation, not very successfully, with schools; now to focus on businesses and other organisations.  Also unsuccessful with grant bids.
  • Mary Kelly described the work of Abergavenny Climate Action which has only just been formally launched.
  • Discussion centred on the difficulties of achieving behaviour change;  social marketing has a lot to offer.  A 'sharing event' was suggested to help groups work together.  Also need to emphasise the Peak Oil dimension when Climate Change is having a bad press.
  • The 10:10 campaign work of the the Local Service Board, focusing on partners' awareness and energy use in buildings, the County Council, implementing their 2008 strategy, Environment Agency Wales and CCW (travel reduction), were also reported.  Gwent Wildlife Trust has achieved Green Dragon Level 2 but have difficulty in going further.
  • George Ashworth of MCC is to be vice chair of the Board.

13 October 2009:  Unfortunately illness prevented a talk on the Brecon Beacons National Park Green Valleys Project.  However, it was agreed that the next meeting should focus on energy matters including this project and local Transition Town projects.  Other matters included:

  • Sue Mabberley of CCW was elected chair for a further two years;  consideration will be given to the election of a vice chair.
  • MCC has registered interest in the Low Carbon Communities Fund and meetings will be held to assemble a bid on behalf of one or more communities in the county.
  • The Usk to Wye Campaign ecological connectivity partnership is to make a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund which could lead to the appointment of a development officer.
  • The Waste Forum in July and continuing controversy;  Cllr Eric Saxon clarified the position of MCC.
  • Schools have been offered sessions on energy use and Owl energy monitors;  MCC leisure centres are now the subject of energy audits, second only to schools as energy users.
  • On a trial basis all MCC Cabinet reports will include a section on sustainability implications, based on a checklist similar to that trialled by the Board in recent years.
  • Several sources of advice on the biodiversity impact of renewable energy schemes, and research commissioned by the Bat Conservation Trust.
  • The success of the Climate Change and Green Energy Area at the Usk Show.
  • Advice for Communities First groups undertaking environmental projects that may be useful more widely.

8 July 2009:  The main matters considered were:

  • Progress on the Local Development Plan.  EPB members welcomed the emphasis on sustainability and commended the consultation process to others consulting the public, had reservations about the ease of using the MCC web site, considered the 'candidate sites' system confusing for the public, and welcomed an energy study to be carried out in the autumn.
  • The work of the Local Service Board on climate change and the possibility of a joint LSB/EPB event on zero/low carbon living.
  • Updating on Action Plan projects including the Usk to Wye landscape project which is now being formalised, the Waste Forum planned for 9 July and related issues, MCC's adoption of a Carbon Management Plan which aims to reduce carbon emissions by 25% 2007-2012, and the Climate Change and Green Energy area at Usk Show on 12 September.

29 April 2009:  Subject to some alterations, the Board's Environmental Objectives and Action Plan 2009/10 was agreed and will shortly be available here.  Other matters considered were:

  • Progress on the Usk to Wye landscape campaign following an EPB-supported conference in March.
  • The need for a Waste Forum to respond to today's launch of WAG consultation on a waste strategy for Wales.
  • Measures to communicate green information to schools.
  • Progress on energy efficiency and the case for a county Forum of Transition groups.
  • Delays in progress on the Regional Transport Plan, pending consultation on a WAG national plan this summer.  Four Monmouthshire Safe Routes schemes have WAG approval.
  • Transfer of the EPB's Green Energy Area from Monmouth Show to Usk Show.
  • The recent Local Service Board Climate Change conference and its outcomes, possibly including a Local Delivery Agreement project.

10 December 2008:  Much of the meeting was devoted to discussion of the need for a concise environmental policy statement or non-statutory strategy for the county, and an action plan in accordance with the Community Strategy.  Initially a review of relevant lower-order statutory strategies and plans will be conducted to test a process for assembling an overall strategy.  Other matters discussed included:

  • Involvement in a Local Service Board Climate Change event being planned for March 2009.
  • The likelihood of a Waste Forum being held to tie in with a consultation on WAG's new Waste Strategy, expected in Spring 2009.
  • The potential of voluntary groups to extend the labour-intensive Zero Waste approach to more communities.
  • The growth of MCC and community energy-saving and renewable energy activity; the need for an advice note on avoiding any adverse impact on wildlife by small wind and hydro schemes will be explored.

24 September 2008:  Matters considered included:

  • The future of the Board's Monmouth Show Green Energy Area - whether to combine with 'Countryside Matters' as a 'Green Living' area; whether a presence at Usk Show would be feasible.  Coordinator to investigate options.
  • The draft Regional Transport Plan:  The Board was generally supportive but felt that cross-border public transport needed more attention and that projects such as Connect 2 at Monmouth needed specific mention; some members strongly opposed to M4 relief road, without which more money would be available for sustainable transport; a local transport plan for the county and an annual forum were needed.
  • The new Tidy Towns initiative (in Monmouthshire to be known as Tidy Local Communities - TLC) to be run by RCA in association with Keep Wales Tidy.  Members concerned to avoid damage to protected species.
  • An update on energy efficiency incentives and reports on grants for hydro power in the Wye Valley and the Big Green Challenge in the National Park and its margins.
  • A draft action plan for the Board and the need to extend its content.

18 June 2008:  A well-attended meeting considered a wide range of matters including:

  • The work of the Monmouthshire Local Service Board and its Community Strategy: It was felt that the role of the LSB needed clarification and the EPB will ask how comments made on the draft Strategy are to be dealt with.  The LSB's intention to refresh Open Strategy was welcomed (see note of EPB meeting on 11 January below).  In order to assist its input to the Community Strategy, the Board will assemble an Environment Action Plan bringing together the main intentions of its partners and others.  The EPB also considered its response to a 'fit for purpose' questionnaire issued by the LSB, usefully identifying areas for improvement.  
  • Progress on the Council's Energy and Climate Change Strategy, the results of which are now posted elsewhere on these EPB pages.  MCC aims to reduce its carbon emissions from buildings by 40% in five years.
  • The likelihood that a consultation event later this would consider the draft Regional Transport Plan, local needs and demand for an annual consultative Transport Forum.
  • The need to review the form of the Waste Forum, possibly as an annual event.  County Council and Monmouthshire Community Recycling representatives gave detailed reports on waste management progress, including the current pilot of co-mingled collection and the need for a fair comparison of this with the black box system.  WAG policies are expected to be clearer in September.
  • The Board will have an improved Green Energy Area at the Monmouth Show on 28 August.

11 April 2008:  Much of the meeting was concerned with the Board's response to the Local Service Board's draft Community Strategy.  A report of the EPB 5 April workshop on the subject was received.  Members were generally pleased that the Strategy had focused on the need for short-term action to tackle climate change and issues relating to access to services and facilities including transport, but felt that Sustainability should be a key focus and regretted that the LSB had not adopted the 'overarching' approach to the Strategy.  A full response will be submitted before the end of April.

Other matters included:

  • MCC progress with workshops (internal and community) developing Climate Change and Energy action plans.
  • The concerns of some members about MCC's Medium Term Waste Strategy and the role of the Waste Forum.  A meeting is to be arranged with MCC.
  • An environmental education showcase to be held at Gilwern on 25 April.
  • Progress on village hall energy audits and action arising from these.
  • Concern that the MCC 'Open Strategy' is not adequately resourced or user-friendly and therefore its potential is wasted.

11 January 2008:  The main agenda item was County Council waste management policy, introduced by Cabinet Member Eric Saxon.  Most of the Council's consultative plans to minimise waste going to landfill were welcomed, noting that MCC is one of the leading Welsh authorities for diverting biodegradable waste from landfill.  Members were surprised to learn that 36% of household waste, by weight, is food and green waste.  Concern was expressed that residual waste seemed likely to be incinerated in a regional energy-from-waste plant rather than rely on solutions based on other methods, but it was noted that no decision had been taken.  Members questioned a WAG waste collection target which conflicted with the preferable option of home composting.  The MCR Zero Waste project at St Arvans achieves 95% participation, and there are now encouraging results in Abergavenny's Communities First area.  The importance of taking every opportunity for public education was stressed.

Other environmental matters included:

  • MCC has succeeded in a prosecution for fly-tipping, a substantial fine being imposed, and is using road planings for rural footpath improvement.
  • The Board will assist the arrangement of a Local Development Plan workshop and possibly another on the new Community Strategy.
  • MCC consultants will be holding community workshops on the Climate Change Strategy in the Spring.
  • A meeting for anyone involved in education for sustainable development is planned for 25 April - contact: ColetteMooney@monmouthshire.gov.uk.
  • Energy audits for first village halls completed for Rural Community Action.
  • Further consideration of the possibility of repeating the Green Energy Area, possibly at the Usk Show in 2008.
  • Agreement that the Board's coordination arrangement with Monmouthshire GreenWeb be extended to 2008/09.
  • The Gwent Wildlife Trust has raised funds to purchase Wyeswood Common, adjoining their Pentwyn Farm reserve, and now seeks funds for land management.

5 October 2007:  Among the matters discussed and conclusions were:

  • An update on the County Council's measures to tackle fly tipping led to criticism of the Council's own practice of depositing highway materials in rural lay-bys, especially in the National Park.  The matter will be raised with the Highways Section, together with the scope for reusing waste materials.
  • The Green Energy Area was considered successful and worth repeating if funding can be found.  A better position on the showground is wanted.
  • The County Council's Climate Change Strategy had been welcomed in a Board response and it was hoped that the Board might play a part in taking forward community-related aspects of the Strategy.
  • The National Park's Planning Advisory Note on solar and other renewables has encouraged more planning applications.
  • Concern was expressed that energy efficiency standards in larger developments that are 'self-certified' under building regulations may not always be adequately enforced.
  • Rural Community Action in partnership with the SE Wales Energy Agency are hoping to introduce a scheme to help village halls save energy.  Another SEWA project could promote energy efficiency at a community level in Monmouthshire.
  • The role of the Council's Open Strategy project in the review of the Community Strategy was discussed and the Partnership's input was examined 'live'.  It was agreed to respond to a WAG consultation on new Community Strategy guidance asking for stronger emphasis on Sustainable Development and WAG's own Environment Strategy, questioning the emphasis on collaborative projects seemingly at the expense of others, and stressing the need for adequate resources to assemble the Strategies.
  • A meeting of relevant partners will be arranged to consider the scope for a project relating to biodiversity and landscape.
  • The difficulties and controversies of increasing use of biodiesel were discussed; a local voluntary project based on researching the availability of used cooking oil seems unlikely to proceed.
  • It was hoped that MCC's appointment of a Transportation Strategy Manager would enable progress on transport matters, including a Transport Forum or Conference.
  • The likelihood that Chepstow Town Council would lead a Transition Town project encouraging self-sufficiency and less reliance on fossil fuels.

Green Energy Area, Monmouth Show 2007

6 July 2007:  The main matters discussed and conclusions were:

  • The Board's energy efficiency sub group should become more involved in the wider community actions of the forthcoming MCC climate change/energy efficiency plan.  This would also be a topic for a Transport Forum if this is established.
  • Following St Arvans' success, it was noted that other communities in the AONB could apply for Sustainable Development Fund grants for projects to minimise waste.  Monmouthshire Community Recycling are now focusing on the Communities First area of Abergavenny.
  • The Board learned about the Bryn y Cwm Forum waste management proposals and that a Regional Waste Plan review would be available for comment in the autumn.
  • Several member organisations are now looking into the use of biodiesel for their fleet vehicles; the EPB and the AONB have grant-aided a green energy area at Monmouth Show (30 August); SWALEC are seeking a (gas-using) community of about 500 houses for a community-led energy reduction project.  (A Vale of Glamorgan community was subsequently chosen.)
  • The education for sustainable development sub group is gathering information on existing provision - contact ColetteMooney@monmouthshire.gov.uk.  Over half of Monmouthshire schools are now registered as Eco-schools, three with green flag awards.
  • The Board will consider holding a public event in 2008 with a planning and sustainability theme linked to the Local Development Plan process.
  • The Board will have a seat on the new Local Service Board steering joint action on public sector projects across Monmouthshire.

13 April 2007:  The Board's business was largely consideration of the results of the Waste and Energy Workshops held on 19 March.  The main conclusions of the meeting were:

  • The Board should be represented at the Council's mainly internal Climate Change Workshop on 18 May, which would be considering energy efficiency measures.
  • A sub group would consider the value of planning for ecological connectivity corridors as a response to climate change.
  • More guidance was needed on the incorporation of Board projects into the Council's Open Strategy process.
  • The Waste Forum should play a role in community consultation on the Council's forthcoming review of its Waste Strategy - to be discussed with Cabinet Member.
  • The success of the St Arvans zero waste project was welcomed and the potential of this growing to become a low carbon community is to be investigated.
  • Monmouth Friends of the Earth are considering a biodiesel club based on recycled cooking oil.
  • Consideration will be given to partners arranging an energy zone, with advice and suppliers, at Monmouth Show.
  • MCC would consider an agreement whereby Monmouthshire GreenWeb would provide coordination and other services for the Board.  

For further information contact the Board's Coordinator - GreenWeb's Sue Parkinson

 

 

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