A Legal Commitment to Reach Zero by 2050

Welsh Government has set out its legal commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, but is pushing to “get there sooner” as it gets ready for COP26 (26th United Nations’ Climate Change Conference of the Parties) in November. The move comes following a recommendation by the independent Climate Change Committee (CCC), that revealed net zero emissions, previously thought unachievable and unaffordable by experts, was now possible with ambitious policy and a ‘Team Wales’ effort.  The new evidence from the CCC says greater reductions within the industrial sector will help achieve this goal, as a large proportion of Welsh emissions come from a small number of big emitters, such as Port Talbot steelworks.

The report also highlights the need for everyone in Wales to do their bit to drive emissions down, with more than half of the recommendations being partly or fully driven by societal or behavioural changes.

Welsh Government has already announced a suite of measures this year to respond to the climate emergency and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.  These include plans on achieving cleaner air, putting an end to harmful agricultural pollution, a decisive shift away from fossil fuel extraction and towards green energy, working towards a net zero public sector in Wales by 2030, and going beyond recycling and making Wales a zero waste nation.

The Minister’s statement is at Written Statement: Wales’ pathway to achieve net zero emissions (9 February 2021) | GOV.WALES

NRW Shows Us the Way

Natural Resources Wales has launched a ‘milestone’ report: the State of Natural Resources Report 2020 is the evidence base that assesses how sustainable is the management of natural resources in Wales, building on the first report in 2016.  It suggests that redesigning the energy, transport and food systems of Wales could help society to live within its environmental capacity and address the pressures causing the nature and climate emergencies.  By re-assessing the individual actions we take, making pro-environmental behaviours the easiest choice, and taking opportunities for systems change through policy development, the report aims to present real opportunity for change.

These changes could include:

  • Reducing food waste
  • Promoting sustainable agricultural and agroecological practices that work with nature
  • Better urban design and planning such as connecting green spaces
  • Setting aside more space for nature
  • Moving towards low carbon and renewable energy
  • Redesigning the transport system as a whole, around sustainable options

The report is at: https://naturalresources.wales/evidence-and-data/research-and-reports/state-of-natural-resources-report-sonarr-for-wales-2020/?lang=en.

White Paper for Clean Air

The Welsh Government has put out a clean air white paper for consultation, which includes proposals for a new air quality target setting framework alongside plans to improve the local air quality management regime. It also includes plans to introduce a new dedicated charging scheme for trunk roads, further anti-idling guidance and the power for local authorities to increase the amount of fixed penalty fines for idling. The paper is at https://gov.wales/white-paper-clean-air-wales-bill  and comments are needed by 7 April

MCC Restart Development Plan Consultation

Monmouthshire County Council is restarting consultations on its Replacement Local Development Plan (RLDP) for the County (excluding the area within the Brecon Beacons National Park) which will cover the period 2018-2033.  The Council is revisiting the Growth and Spatial Options stage of the RLDP process due to the publication of the Welsh Government 2018-based population and household projections.

The consultation sets out a number of alternative growth and spatial strategy options for the RLDP having regard to the Plan’s evidence base and policy aspirations, and identifies what are currently the Council’s preferred growth and spatial options that are considered to best address the County’s key issues/challenges and meet the RLDP objectives. The current preferences will be reviewed in the light of consultation responses.  Details at https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/planning-policy/planning-policy-current-consultations/

A number of virtual events (Microsoft Teams live events) will take place during the consultation/engagement period, whereby officers will present the alternative growth and spatial strategy options and respond to questions. These events will be open for all to access. Details of these events can be viewed on the Council’s website via the following link: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/planning-policy/planning-policy-current-consultations/

Comments are invited on the questions set out in the Growth and Spatial Options Paper. The document is available for non-statutory public consultation from Monday 4 January to Monday 1 February 2021.

MCC Backs Burns Report

Monmouthshire County Council has welcomed the recommendations of the South East Wales Transport Commission (Burns) Final Report and in particular the proposed improvements to rail and bus services as essential alternatives to the M4 Newport relief road.  The council also supports the quick win measures proposed for improving Active Travel and integrated ticketing, as well as the medium and longer term recommendations for upgrading the county’s stations and bus services.

The Council welcomes the proposal for a new bus-priority direct access off the M48 to  Severn Tunnel Junction, along with an upgrade of Chepstow station and a new station at Magor.  However it would also like consideration to be given to the wider potential benefits of the proposed M48 access for the Severnside area, for example by reducing traffic levels on the B4245. It would like to see a separate but concurrent transport study carried out for this area at the same time as the assessment and outline design of the new motorway junction.