John Griffiths, Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development
The Programme for Government contains an aim that commits Government to “Work towards bringing the Environment Agency, the Countryside Council for Wales and the Forestry Commission together as one organisation”. For the past 9 months, a programme team managed by officials from my Department, has been preparing a business case that examines different options for delivering this aim.
This programme team was made up of staff from the Environment Agency, Forestry Commission and Countryside Council for Wales working with officials from my Department. They were overseen by a programme board that had, as executive members, the chief executives from the three bodies.
The business case has now been finalised and contains a recommendation from the programme team that the most effective way of taking this Programme for Government aim forward is to set up a new single environment body for Wales.
After due consideration I have accepted this recommendation. Accordingly, I have directed my officials to set up a formal programme to manage the transition from the current position to a point where a new body is vested. The target date for vesting is the 1st April 2013.
A consultation on the functions, powers and duties of the new organisation will be launched in early 2012 and there will be a plenary debate later in the year once the outcome of the consultation is known.