Author Archives: NewsEdit

New Eco Literacy Course

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.

Chepstow Transport Study

Report published into Chepstow traffic and travel – Monmouthshire  – The latest report on the cross-border Chepstow Transport Study recommends a 40mph A48 single carriageway bypass including a bridge over the Wye and active travel and public transport measures to deal with increasing traffic congestion in the town.  A recent Welsh Government freeze on new road-building may prove to be a major obstacle for this much-needed  project to overcome.

New Flood Risk Maps

Natural Resources Wales’ latest flood risk maps can be viewed at Flood Map for Planning (naturalresources.wales)  It accompanies a revised advice note, Technical advice note (TAN) 15: development, flooding and coastal erosion | GOV.WALES, that makes it clear that new developments of homes, the emergency services, schools, and hospitals, must not be located in areas of high flood risk without strong flood defences.  If a local planning authority is minded to approve any scheme against this advice, ministers will be notified and able to decide the application directly.

The new flood map identifies four types of flood zone, with each zone having particular advice in TAN 15 for proposed developments. The zones are based on current risk levels with the addition of allowances for climate change. The map will be updated in May and November each year to reflect the latest modelling and data on flood risks.  For all development in areas of low risk and areas protected by strong flood defences, and for less vulnerable developments in areas at high risk, securing planning permission will be dependent on passing acceptability tests set out in TAN15.

 

Major Set-back for MCC Plan

Several community groups will be pleased to learn that the Welsh Government has taken issue with Monmouthshire County Council’s Preferred Strategy for its Replacement Local Development Plan.  Responding to the recent consultation, WG’s Chief Planner has said that the strategy’s scale of growth is not, as required, in general conformity with Future Wales: The National Development Framework.  The response points out that the strategy proposed almost 5,000 more homes 2018-33 than the government’s mid-range projection, and according to county council figures this would mean no need to allocate any more housing land.

As Monmouthshire’s strategy planned to allocate new land for over 3,600 more homes, the difference between the bodies is large.  Meetings and deliberations are planned before planning officers make recommendations on how the county council should proceed.  The council could defy the WG response and continue on its present course in the hope that the Inspector will eventually agree with them.  But if the Inspector supports the government or a compromise well short of MCC’s plans, there would be an even more embarrassing waste of time and money and a late need to rethink the plan.  The sooner the difference between the bodies is reduced to a reasonable level, the better.

It is noteworthy that Cardiff City Council, at an earlier stage in its new Local Development Plan, is moving towards lower growth despite being a growth area in Future Wales, unlike Monmouthshire.

New Local Trainers

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

Levels Saved From Solar Farm

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.

MCC to Boost Climate Action Plan?

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 surveyshorturl.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.

 

Penpergwm Solar Farm

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.

Local Development Plan Moves Forward

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 consultation can be found at RLDP- News & Consultations – Monmouthshire but for all the relevant information go to Planning Policy – Monmouthshire.

Welsh Government Moratorium on Road Building

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.