At a recent meeting CALM, the group that opposed the M4 Relief Road, expressed concern that the Burns Commission needed to be more effective at engaging with the public while preparing its proposals for transport in the M4 Corridor. CALM fears that a Conservative government in Wales might reintroduce the Relief Road project and is seeking confirmation that the Black Route is no longer protected and that land bought for the road is being sold. CALM is also exploring the possibility of strengthening protection of the Levels by a stronger designation than SSSIs.
While the National Trust aims to plant perhaps a million trees in Wales by 2030, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is looking to plant tens of thousands of new oak trees across South East and South-Central Wales, creating new woodland habitats and restoring broadleaf areas for wildlife and for people. Two years ago, NRW staff volunteered to collect acorns from trees of excellent quality from around Newport and Monmouth and send them to grow at a tree nursery in Delamere. Trees were assessed on several features, including their shape, size, age and the size of their leaves. Oak trees that perform well in these categories produce acorns that are more likely to grow into high quality trees.
Out of the 70,000 acorns collected, 51,000 have successfully matured and are set to be replanted near their original collection site. Replanting these trees near the sites they came from ensures they are well suited to the environment and that there is a minimal risk of spreading plant diseases. The two main sites the acorns were collected from were the Rolls of Monmouth and Newport Golf clubs.
The Welsh Government has added to a recent flurry of climate change measures by consulting on its plans – https://gov.wales/circular-economy-strategy – to move Wales towards a more circular economy, using less raw material, using less products, sending less waste to energy recovery and more repair, reuse and recycling. Responses are wanted by 3 April.
Newly appointed Welsh Office Minister, David TC Davies MP for Monmouth, has ‘fully supported’ the UK Government’s ambition to become carbon neutral by 2050 – despite being a long-standing denier of man-made climate change and an opponent of climate emergency declarations.
A Western Mail editorial has backed Future Generations Commissioner Sophie Howe’s concern about the lack of carbon impact assessments published to accompany infrastructure projects. Having declared a climate emergency, every spending decision should consider the impact that it will make on the emergency. And such measures ‘should not be optional add-ons that can be disregarded if too much of a nuisance’. The First Minister would have ‘looked ridiculous’ if approval had been given to the M4 Relief Road.
The Welsh Government has published Prosperity for All: A Climate Conscious Wales 2020-2025 in association with the Madrid Climate Change Conference. It continues the momentum generated by the launch of Prosperity for All: A Low Carbon Wales, the declaration of a climate change emergency earlier this year and the first Wales Climate Change Conference.
The plan sets out how we will protect our environment and adapt our homes, communities, businesses and infrastructure to deal with the impact of climate change through a range of actions including:
• building defences to guard against flooding and coastal erosion
• protecting water supplies from drought
• reducing the use of pesticides
• growing more woodland to improve air quality, reduce erosion and protect soil, slow down floods and support our ecosystems.
• creating more open spaces like parks, playing fields, allotments, private gardens, grasslands, ponds, woodland creating an environment that is good for people’s wellbeing as well as the climate.
• the creation of 25,000 more energy efficient homes by 2021.
Hard on the heels of our last post the Welsh Government has issued a consultation on its draft Clean Air Plan for Wales – https://gov.wales/clean-air-plan-wales. There’s no new legislation promised, but some reviews of powers and investigation of further measures. Responses are wanted by 10 March.
A British Heart Foundation analysis shows that Monmouthshire has one of the higher air pollution levels in Wales – the health damage equivalent of 91 cigarettes a year. Cardiff has the equivalent of 105 per year, Newport 102, and Torfaen 94. BHF Cymru wants the Welsh Government to introduce a Clean Air Act and to adopt WHO guidelines.
MCC has recently issued a draft Planning Advice Note on Archaeology for comments by 10 January. Supplementary Planning Guidance on Affordable Housing was adopted earlier in the year, and SPG on Infill Development was adopted recently, at the same meeting as draft SPG on Landscape was adopted for consultation.
MCC’s Strong Communities Select Committee will scrutinise a Green Infrastructure Strategy prepared by Chris Blandford Associates for the county on Thursday, 7 November: https://democracy.monmouthshire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=139&MId=4002
Volume 1 is 160 pages long but there is an executive summary. Volume 2, the delivery plan, is as yet unavailable online.