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.
A draft application for a large solar farm at Penpergwm, north of A40 near Abergavenny, is attracting considerable attention. Unlike most planning applications, its size is such that it will be made to the Welsh Planning Inspectorate who will make a recommendation to the Welsh Government on whether this project meets national planning policy for renewable energy projects. Full details are at Penpergwm Solar Farm | The Proposal and views are wanted by 25 August. There is a webinar tonight at 7pm and on 5 August at 1pm – Penpergwm Solar Farm | The Process – and you will need to register.
Following their consultations on Options earlier this year, Monmouthshire CC have started statutory consultations on their Preferred Option for the Replacement Local Development Plan. Their final strategic preference is little different from their initial preference in January, but it is important that you respond at this formal stage. This is the last chance for you to oppose or support their strategy for encouraging more development in the county – the next stage, later this year, will be adding the details. The deadline is 31 August.
The Welsh Government has announced a freeze on new road-building while a review of highway schemes across Wales is carried out. Deputy minister for climate change Lee Waters told the Senedd this week that reaching the goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 would require a huge effort: ‘In the next 10 years we are going to need to more than double all the cuts we have managed over the last 30 years if we are going to keep temperature rises within safe limits…..Transport makes up some 17 per cent of our total emissions and so must play its part.’ The decision does not appear to favour a Chepstow by-pass unless other measures demonstrably cannot deal with the town’s traffic pollution.
Following an earlier consultation Monmouthshire CC is now seeking views on the final Active Travel Network Maps for the county’s towns and larger villages. Go to Have Your Say Today – Teithio Llesol Sir Fynwy / Monmouthshire Active Travel – Commonplace. The maps will help in determining priorities for investment in cycling and walking facilities, a policy priority of Welsh Government likely to receive more as funding for new roads seems likely to recede. The consultation deadline is 31 August.
The Welsh Government has removed the route corridor protection for the abandoned M4 Relief Road, enabling planning authorities and those interested in enhancing the wildlife future of the corridor to review their intentions for the area. This decision also defies any moves by the UK Government to reverse or overrule the Welsh Government’s decision not to proceed with the Relief Road.
As the Climate Change Committee (CCC) says that action in the UK to improve its resilience to the climate crisis is ‘failing’ to keep pace with the impacts of a warming planet, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford this week set out his administration’s programme for the next five years – one which has many green commitments. CCC’s evidence shows the gap between the level of risk the UK faces and the level of adaption under way has widened, and that even action now to achieve the Paris agreement temperature goal for 2050 and as part of the levelling-up agenda will not stop climate change and the rise in sea levels.
Drakeford has insisted that climate change and the environment will be at the heart of the new government, stressing that his administration had created a “super-ministry” under Julie James with Lee Waters as her Deputy, which for the first time has brought together transport, planning, housing and energy. Welsh Government – Programme for Government sets out across-the-board commitments to address well-being objectives for the next five years. Welcome though many of the intentions are, the Programme illustrates how much we must rely on UK Government action to address the CCC concerns.
The County Council is advertising for a full-time position described as ‘an exciting role to join MonLife and contribute to shaping the Active Travel agenda right across Monmouthshire. This role will play a key part it coordinating projects and areas of work across a number of services to deliver outcomes aligned with our strategic focus for Active Travel’ – Project Support Officer – Active Travel – Monmouthshire. The post supports the Active Travel Officer and the closing date is 30 April.
MonLife is part of Monmouthshire County Council and delivers leisure, youth and outdoor education, green infrastructure and countryside access, play, learning, destination management, arts, museums and attractions.