Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs
On 4 November, I represented the Welsh Government at the sixteenth British-Irish Council (BIC) Environment Work Sector meeting. The meeting was held via virtual format and chaired by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, on behalf of the UK Government. Others in attendance were;
- The Irish Government, represented Mr Eamon Ryan T.D. Minister for Transport and Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications.
- The Scottish Government, represented by Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.
- The Isle of Man Government, represented by Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture.
- The Government of Jersey, represented by Deputy John Young Minister for the Environment.
- The Government of Guernsey, represented by Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, President of the Committee for the Environment and Infrastructure.
- The Northern Ireland Executive, represented by Minister Edwin Poots MLA, Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
The meeting focused on how the administrations can work together on climate adaptation, tackle invasive non-native species (INNS) and approach the issues connected with the marine environment.
I welcomed the opportunity to share wider best practice regarding the control of Asian Hornets, particularly with Guernsey and Jersey who have been significantly affected by this species.
I outlined how we continue to support ‘Check Clean Dry’ campaign and recently promoted the re-launch of the ‘Be Plant Wise’ campaign during ‘Plant Health Week’ in September 2020.
Good biosecurity practices are key to reducing the risk of introducing and spreading invasive non-native species. I therefore asked to see actions on biosecurity and risk reduction prioritised, biosecurity protocols for the marine aquaculture industry, collaboration on action to minimise the risk posed by pets, small zoos and animal rescue centres and the establishment of a British Irish Council Asian Hornet Taskforce.
I welcome the continued work supporting the commitments agreed in the BIC marine litter symposium in 2018, including sustainable solutions for end of life fishing gear. I note the varying challenges upon our marine environment and welcome our continued coordinated approach to conserve and sustainably use our seas.
In the coming months, the forthcoming Climate Change Risk Assessment 3 produced by the UK Committee on Climate Change for the four administrations in the UK, will be another important milestone in which we need to collaborate as we develop our strong cross Government responses to the most urgent risks.
The British-Irish Council Summit is an important opportunity for Member Administrations to collaborate and share good practice on the common issues we face. I was clear that Welsh Government supports the work being done across the British Irish Council and the valuable source of knowledge that we share when we come together.
There followed a discussion about the next forward work plan. All in attendance agreed the proposed plan for the next two years. Further updates from across administrations was received with a common goal of fully supporting the ambition of British Irish Council to ensure a greater focus on climate resilience and adapting to the impacts of climate change as we approach COP26 next year.
The key discussion points for the sixteenth meeting were published in a joint Communiqué. https://www.britishirishcouncil.org/communique/ministerial-meetings