There are now three proposals for solar energy ‘parks’ on the Gwent Levels. There is an undetermined 155ha proposal west of Newport between St Brides and Peterstone, a much smaller one by Newport City Council west of the Ebbw near Maesglas landfill site, and now a 100ha proposal at Redwick, east of Newport, just touching the Monmouthshire boundary; this is at the pre-application consultation stage – Rush Wall Solar Park – BSR Energy – respond by 8 January.
There is also an emerging proposal for a substantial solar ‘farm’ near Penpergwm, south-east of Abergavenny. The three larger projects are Developments of National Significance to be determined by Welsh Ministers after examination by the Planning Inspectorate.
The 90-page final report of Lord Burns’ Commission on new sustainable transport options for SE Wales is at https://gov.wales/south-east-wales-transport-commission-final-recommendations. The wide range of integrated proposals aim to reduce M4 traffic by 20%.
With transport currently responsible for 17 per cent of the country’s carbon emissions, the Welsh Government has committed to set new five-year priorities to tackle carbon emissions as it seeks to meet decarbonisation targets. The draft strategy, Llwybr Newydd – New Path, sets out a range of new ambitions to reshape transport in Wales, including a new sustainable transport hierarchy that will guide investments towards greener transport options.
The strategy recognises that patterns of less commuting and more home working are likely to continue. The administration has already outlined its long-term ambition for 30 per cent of the workforce to work from home or remotely, achieved by giving people more choice over how and where they work. The strategy accepts that more local services and more active travel can mean fewer people needing to use their cars daily.
The strategy also contains nine ‘mini-plans’ for modes and sectors: active travel; rail; bus; roads (including streets and parking); the third sector; taxis and private hire vehicles; freight and logistics; and ports, maritime transport and aviation. Details will be delivered by a national delivery plan drawn up by Transport for Wales, supported by regional transport plans, and developed by the new-look joint transport committees.
The consultation is open until 25 January and can be found on the Welsh Government website.
A group of Welsh organisations including the Future Generations Commissioner, the Centre for Alternative Technology and Extinction Rebellion concluded Climate Week with six overarching principles that each political party should be asked to endorse for next year’s Senedd election
1 – Do what it takes to do our part in limiting global heating to 1.5°C, with much deeper and faster reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (see 1, 7 & 8 below).
2 – Champion natural climate solutions to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere, halt the decline in wildlife, restore nature and help manage flood risk (see all below)
3 – Accept our entire global ecological footprint caused by all the goods we buy, the food we eat, and the supply chains we use (see 2,3 & 7 below)
4 – Help politicians to take bold decisions by holding Citizens’ Assemblies and other forms of public participation, to get to net zero faster and with fairness for all (see 1 & 7 below)
5 – Make the future well-being of young people, and the generations to come, the centre of our concern, and the focus of our plans (see all below).
6 – Support economic sectors which create green jobs in a low carbon revolution that will improve our environment, homes and communities and safeguard our health (see 1,2,3,4 & 8 below).
References: 1.Friends of the Earth Cymru Climate Action Plan for Wales https://www.foe.cymru/news/friends-earth-cymru-launch-wales-climate-action-plan 2.WWF Cymru’s Manifesto for Nature, Climate and People https://www.wwf.org.uk/wales/WWFCymruManifesto 3.Future Generations Commission Manifesto for the Future https://www.futuregenerations.wales/manifesto-for-the-future/ 4.RSPB Wales – Five Steps to a Green Recovery for Wales https://community.rspb.org.uk/getinvolved/wales/b/wales-blog/posts/the-future-is-green 5.Coed Cadw/Woodland Trust in Wales – The Roots and Branches of a Strong Green Recovery 6.Wales Environment Link – WEL Manifesto for 2021 Senedd Elections https://www.waleslink.org/Manifesto2021 7.Extinction Rebellion Cymru has referenced the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill https://www.ceebill.uk/bill 8. Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)- Zero Carbon Britain – Rising to the Climate Emergency https://www.cat.org.uk/info-resources/zero-carbon-britain/research-reports/zero-carbon-britain-rising-to-theclimate-emergency/
The Welsh Government has launched its national strategy for flood and coastal erosion risk management – https://gov.wales/national-strategy-flood-and-coastal-erosion-risk-management-wales. It sets out long-term policies to manage flooding – as well as the measures that will be taken over the next decade by organisations like Natural Resources Wales, local authorities and water companies to improve how the country plans, prepares and adapts to climate change over the coming century.
Fresh guidance in the shape of an updated Technical Advice Note 15 is promised by 2021. Part of the new approach is the Wales Flood Map, also just launched – https://naturalresources.wales/evidence-and-data/maps/long-term-flood-risk/?lang=en. This is designed to bring all Welsh flood and coastal risk mapping in one place, starting with the new Flood Risk Assessment for Wales (FRAW). The FRAW maps will be updated every six months so that people can see how flood schemes have reduced risk.
Monmouthshire’s Replacement Local Development Plan will not now be adopted before the autumn of 2023. A report to the Council on 22 October explains that, because of Covid-19, progress on the replacement was halted on government advice in March and that a review of the consequences of the pandemic, together with revised population and household projections, requires a new programme, or Delivery Agreement.
It is intended to revisit both the Growth and Spatial Options and the Preferred Strategy stages, with consultation on the former in December and January. The Preferred Strategy will then be the subject of consultation in May/June 2021 with the full Deposit Plan consultation in July/September 2022.
The Welsh Government has enabled the present LDP to endure until it is replaced – about 21 months longer than its original life.
MCC and their partners are soon to consult on the latest stage of the Chepstow Transport Study, a short list of options from which a preference will be selected. To participate visit https://virtualengage.arup.com/chepstow-transport-study from 2 November to 13 December.
The Welsh Government has issued the latest revision of it National Development Framework – https://gov.wales/future-wales-national-plan-2040 – which is to be scrutinised by the Senedd before finalisation early next year. Changes since the draft included revised population and housing projections. The proposal for a green belt north of M4 from the English border to Cardiff remains.
For those who may be interested in the complex world of household waste recycling, there is a lengthy MCC committee report at https://democracy.monmouthshire.gov.uk/documents/s26574/1a%20Future%20of%20waste%20services%20-%20Strong%20Communities%20Special%20Report%20September%202020%20V.5%20_%20FINAL.pdf. The closure of recycling centres during the Covid-19 lockdown resulted in over 70% of kerbside collections being recyclable, reinforcing the Council’s aim to reduce the number and use of recycling centres in favour of collection. The Usk centre is still likely to be permanently closed unless operated by the Town Council or others, and booking will probably continue to be necessary to use recycling centres, with reduced hours/days.
There are many worrying reports on climate change that could be recommended, but most are long and require considerable reading time. The recently launched Climate Assembly UK report is similarly long but a little different. It focuses on the Government’s commitment to be zero carbon by 2050 so may not be as demanding as many would wish, but it is the outcome of the lengthy deliberations of a Citizens’ Assembly of over 100 people intended to be representative of the population. There are over fifty recommendations to be considered by Parliament and the UK Government. The report and a 31-page summary are available at: https://www.climateassembly.uk/report/