Over the past year, we have been contacted by a number of people who expressed concern about a range of developments across Wales, in particular the Barry Biomass scheme and Hazrem waste facility in Cwmfelinfach
The Commissioner’s role as set out in the Act does not include a case-work function to intervene in specific cases, however, we have pledged to listen to concerns the public raise and to monitor these to detect any wider systemic issues
Environmental permitting decisions taken by Natural Resources Wales emerged as a common thread in the correspondence we have received and so in November 2017, the Commissioner wrote to Natural Resources Wales to seek further information and assurance about how their environmental permitting process was being aligned with the Well-being of Future Generations Act. The Commissioner worked with lawyers to examine the information that they supplied, and we welcome the willingness of Natural Resources Wales to co-operate in this process. We were also grateful for the information from community groups, local representatives and other stakeholders who provided useful insight and evidence.
- We identified some areas where we believe that Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales should undertake further work to ensure the whole process around environmental permitting and associated systems that relate to it, work coherently together. This work is on-going but the Commissioner’s initial recommendations are:
- We will support Natural Resources Wales to improve the visibility of how they apply the Act and explain their permitting decisions, and we agreed to review progress in 12 months
- We will work with NRW and the Welsh Government on statutory guidance to clarify the application of the Act and its integration with the Environment (Wales) Act
- The Welsh Government should conduct a review to look at the whole journey of proposed developments including the interaction with, and roles and responsibilities of, other parts of the system including planning, licensing, impact assessments and statutory consultees, so that the system is in line with the Well-being of Future Generations Act and is easily understood by the general public. The consultation draft of Planning Policy Wales Edition 10 provides impetus for such an approach.
- Our office will attend Natural Resources Wales’ internal training on the Well-being of Future Generations Act and provide advice.