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Natural Resources Wales – State of Natural Resources Report

14th February, 2017

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) published its State of Natural Resources Report (SoNaRR) in October 2016.  This document has been prepared under s 8 of the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 – the last of a suite of new statutes including the Planning (Wales) Act 2015 and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015). The key areas of the Environment Act include sustainable management of natural resources, climate change, charges for carrier bags, the collection and disposal of waste, provisions for shellfish fisheries, marine licensing and flood & Coastal Erosion Committee and land drainage.

The cornerstone of the Act is section 6 which sets out the new biodiversity duty for each public authority to “seek to maintain and enhance biodiversity in the exercise of functions in relation to Wales, and in so doing promote the resilience of ecosystems, so  far as consistent with the proper exercise of those functions.”

Whereas the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, s 40 (1), required a relevant authority to “have regard to . ..purpose of conserving biodiversity”, the new positive duty goes further in imposing an obligation to “maintain and enhance” biodiversity.

Welsh Ministers must now publish a list of living organisms and habitats of principal importance – after consulting NRW and take all reasonable steps to maintain and enhance the living organisms and types of habitat included in the list and encourage others to take such steps. NRW must publish the SoNaRR and the Welsh Ministers then prepare, publish and implement National Natural Resources Policy for achieving sustainable management. NRW will also need to prepare and publish “Area Statements”.

The report looks at the extent to which resources in Wales are sustainably managed the approach to building resilience. It also links the resilience of Welsh natural resources to the well-being of the people of Wales (Well-Being of Future Generations Act 2015). As the first report created under the Act, it is an extremely broad overview relying on existing evidence sources including the River Basin Management Plans (for the Water Framework Directive) and JNCC reports; but a common theme is the pressure from climate change.

It is advertised as the “start of the journey” and presumably will provide a stronger basis in the future upon which to assess the achievement of future goals in sustainable management.

As produced by Justin Neal for Environmental Law Monthly November 2016 edition – Volume 25 Number 11

To read the November 2016 issue of Environmental Law Monthly in full please click here

Justin Neal

Senior Associate & Head of Environmental Law
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 01244 405440

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