With a recycling rate of 72.7% against a Welsh Government target of 64%, Monmouthshire was fourth in the league of counties for July-September 2021. Rhondda Cynon Taff, Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan did better but Torfaen and Caerphilly were below the Welsh average.
Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, has reminded Chief Planning Officers that where Best and Most Versatile (BMV) agricultural land is identified within a proposed solar PV array development, considerable weight should be given to protecting such land from development, because of its special importance, and that, unless other significant material considerations indicate otherwise, it will be necessary to refuse permission. Much of Monmouthshire farmland is in this category.
The Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales would like you to join a national conversation about the way Wales is run. They have been asked to look at how Wales could be run differently, while remaining an integral part of the United Kingdom. They have also been asked to consider other options to strengthen Welsh democracy both within and outside the United Kingdom. The Commission’s task includes reviewing current arrangements, looking at who has power over what, the current rules for how Wales is run, and whether these are the best ways of organising things. Have your say: the constitutional future of Wales | GOV.WALES provides more information. Users of this website may want to think particularly about environmental governance.
The Commission wants to maintain an ongoing conversation with citizens and stakeholders, and will be receiving views up until the summer of 2023. But they want your input to help shape their work programme, so please respond as soon as you can. To feed into thetr interim report in the autumn/winter of 2022, they will need to receive contributions by the end of July 2022. Please send these to: ConstitutionCommission@gov.wales.
An independent commission is being set up to assess tidal renewable projects in the Severn Estuary, including a barrage which could generate 7% of the UK’s electricity needs. The commission has been given the go-ahead by the Western Gateway, a cross-border partnership stretching from Swansea in the west to Swindon in the east – covering a population of 4.4 million. The public-private partnership is seen as creating an economic powerhouse on a footing with the more established Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine in England.
The last proposed barrage scheme, from a company called Hafren Power, proposed a 18 kilometre barrage from Lavernock Point in the Vale of Glamorgan to the Brean Peninsula on the English side of the estuary in Somerset. It had little support from then the Cameron Government. However, with the Welsh and UK Government seeking to reach net zero by 2050 – and the recent government agreement between Plaid Cymru and Labour seeking to bring that 15 years forward in Wales – a barrage could now be in a better position to get government backing in terms of energy security and its mitigation against rising levels on both sides of the estuary from climate change. But it could take 15 years to achieve the potential of up to 7 per cent of the UK’s total energy needs.
There seem to be many online consultations and surveys of late but this one from Natural Resources Wales is different. NRW in collaboration with the Welsh Government has recently launched Nature and Us: a Wales-wide conversation about the future of our natural environment. The Nature and Us website directs you to the survey and there are webinars too, starting on 23 March. The survey is in two parts, the first of which takes just a few minutes to complete and submit online. The second part provides an opportunity to tell them a bit more about what is important to you and the changes you think Wales needs to make.
MCC planners have written to interested parties to tell them that it will now be late Summer 2022 before a report on options for progressing the Replacement Local Development Plan is presented to the Council for a decision on how to proceed. This follows major concerns that were raised by Welsh Government officials in response to last summer’s consultation, which were discussed at a special Select Committee meeting in December.
The Welsh Government officials, like several local community organisations in the county, considered that MCC’s proposed level of growth did not conform with policies in Future Wales: the National Plan 2040.
The results of both the first and second calls for Candidate Sites put forward by landowners or developers are now available at Monmouthshire Replacement Local Development Plan Second Call for Candidate Sites Register – Monmouthshire. Comments on these will not be accepted at this stage; they will be assessed and available to comment at a later stage.
Local businessman, Ben Jones, apparently with the support of the Gwent Wildlife Trust, has written to the Abergavenny Chronicle about his proposal for an 80 acre wetland nature reserve on County Council land adjoining the waste transfer site at Llanfoist. Welsh Water are already interested in the possibility of using the reserve to extra cleanse storm surge water from their treatment plant. Ben and the Trust are seeking volunteer support initially to persuade MCC to back the plan and eventually to help manage the reserve – contact email@example.com.
On 19 January Monmouthshire County Council’s Cabinet adopted the Usk (& Woodside) Improvement Masterplan jointly commissioned by MCC and Usk Town Council in 2018. It is available here.
This news item from a Royal Town Planning Institute weekly bulletin relates to the difference of interpretation of ‘Future Wales 2040’ between its Welsh Government authors and Monmouthshire CC’s preferred Replacement Local Development Plan strategy. Several local groups are resisting MCC plans to accelerate housing growth with no assurance of jobs, while developers may point to housing pressure ignored by the Welsh Government. An MCC scrutiny committee discusses the matter on 14 December.
Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales is introducing a new Eco Literacy course, Nabod Natur – Nature Wise and is able to offer up to 150 free online training places for community or voluntary groups in Wales that would like to protect and restore our natural environment. The Nature Wise programme will teach attendees about how our natural environment operates, the threats it faces, and how we as individuals and organisations can all help nature thrive. The course will operate remotely and will be available monthly from October 2021 with a total commitment time of 5-6 hours.
Regarding the free places, they are especially targeting individuals and organisations who are not currently doing environmental work, such as faith groups or those working in the arts or social projects. However, all community and voluntary groups in Wales can sign up for free at: cynnalcymru.com/naturewise-free.