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Environmental priorities for the next Assembly

16/03/2016

The National Assembly's Environment and Sustainability Committee has gathered what it believes are the environmental, agricultural and marine priorities that should be addressed by the next Assembly.

The Committee conducted a series of events where it invited people to reflect on progress made in a range of policy area during the past five years, and to prioritise issues for consideration in the next Assembly.

Members consistently heard from stakeholders that one of the main areas they were unclear about was the interrelationship between three laws passed in the Fourth Assembly. The Planning Act, the Wellbeing of Future Generations in Wales, and the Environment Act.
Picture of a Beach and the Sea
Stakeholders want to know how these will be delivered on the ground and want to see a coherent and coordinated approach to delivery of the range of plans, policies, statements, indicators and reports that these laws create, as they are seen as essential to delivering the policy aspirations they are meant to support.

"Rather than reflecting on the work we have done, we decided to ask our stakeholders about the progress that has been made in Wales during the past five years and, more crucially, what they see as the challenges and opportunities ahead," said Alun Ffred Jones AM, Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee.

"Perhaps most prominent was a general level of apprehension around how the complex web of legislation passed during this Assembly will be implemented and what impact this legislation will have."

Stakeholders were broadly pleased with the progress that has been made in Wales over the last five years with regards to municipal waste and recycling. This was attributed in part to a consistent policy approach from the Welsh Government.

Maintaining a focus on the implementation of the current Common Agricultural Policy ('CAP') in Wales whilst beginning to prepare for the next CAP are highlighted as important considerations for a future Assembly committee when constructing its work programme.

Whilst some progress has been made, the recommendations in the Committee's Marine policy in Wales report remain only partially met. There is a concern that marine policy is not given the priority it should attract within the Welsh Government and the 'and marine' mentality persists.

On the issue of energy generation and a move to a more renewable energy future, the Committee has released a number of reports including most recently A Smarter Energy for Wales, which considered issues such as a not-for-profit energy provider, and local authority and community-led energy projects.

Alun Ffred said:

"We have been clear that we see tackling climate change as the most significant issue facing Wales, and that all other policy considerations need to be assessed through this prism.

"Wales has established a legal framework for addressing this, and has set greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

"A future committee will need to ensure that progress is being made against these targets and that the framework is being implemented effectively across all policy areas.

"Our report on A Smarter Energy Future for Wales highlights additional energy and housing priorities. A future committee should consider A Smarter Energy Future for Wales alongside this legacy report when determining its work programme."

In total the Committee examines eight key themes in its legacy report, highlighting priority areas for each.

More information about the Environment and Sustainability Committee.

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