Alan Davies AM, Minister for Natural Resources and Food
I am launching today a consultation on our proposals for an Environment Bill. This Bill is a key element in our Programme for Government, which includes a number of commitments in relation to natural resource management.
As I set out in my autumn statement ‘Shaping a more Prosperous and Resilient Future’, the sustainable management of our natural resources is critical to the future success of our economy and in creating a future for all of our communities. It is also central to this government’s ambition to tackle poverty in all its forms, and to grow the economy in a way which protects the environment and promotes Welsh wealth creation.
The Environment Bill is one of a package of measures that my department is taking forward to ensure that we have the policies and legislation in place to achieve our aims. In parallel, we are also taking forward the new £6 million nature fund to support practical action which enhances biodiversity, creates local jobs, empowers people to take positive action and delivers significant benefits to local communities.
Throughout history it has been access to natural resources that has driven the growth of successful nations. In order to secure Wales’ future prosperity we must recognise the value of our natural resources and the services they provide and manage them carefully for the long term benefit of Wales. It is clear that our current environmental legislative framework is not fully enabling sustainable economic growth or recognising the crucial interface with social well-being, including tackling poverty.
The intention is that this Bill will complement existing and proposed planning and sustainable development legislative regimes, including the new legislation being taken forward in the Planning Reform and Future Generations Bills. By doing so, it will reinforce how, when making key decisions today, there is a need to consider how the long term outcomes of this Government will be achieved, and to recognise the connections between tackling poverty, economic prosperity and the use of natural resources for current and future generations.
- The Environment Bill will achieve this by:Providing a modern statutory framework for the sustainable management of natural resources through a more joined-up process and an area-based approach;
- Providing Natural Resources Wales with the new statutory functions and duties to support delivery of its core purpose and to trial new approaches and ways of working;
- Enabling improvements in resource efficiency, for example on waste regulation, to ensure Wales’ natural resources are used to best effect; and
- Simplifying and clarifying the law in a number of existing environmental regulatory regimes, such as the management of shellfisheries and marine licensing.
I am keenly aware of the need to ensure the legislation we introduce is practical and proportionate while maximising opportunities to support jobs and growth. Most significantly, the Environment Bill will set out a framework to prioritise the opportunities for managing our natural resources and ensure we have the evidence to better inform the shape and direction of sustainable growth, as well as delivering maximum long term benefits for our communities now and in the future.
The Environment Bill White Paper consultation will run until 15 January 2014. Consultation response report will be published in spring 2014.