Natural Resources Wales’ budget squeeze warning

River in WalesImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

NRW’s responsibilities include rivers, protecting habitats, forestry along with the countryside

Wales’ environment watchdog “can’t be everywhere, doing everything as some people would certainly expect” unless of which has funding to do so, its head has warned.

Natural Resources Wales chairwoman Diane McCrea wants more clarity via Welsh ministers about their expectations under tighter budgets.

She warned there was a danger NRW would certainly not be able to “fulfil its ambition”.

The Welsh Government said the UK government’s austerity agenda “means we all have difficult decisions to make”.

NRW – whose responsibilities include rivers, forestry along with regulating power stations – receives Welsh Government funding called “grant-in-aid” however of which has been cut year on year.

At the same time, Ms McCrea said of which was being given extra responsibilities.

The most recent budget settlement for 2018-19 sees another funding fall, with more anticipated for the following year.

of which means a real terms reduction of 35% for non-flood work along with 11% for flooding since NRW was established.

To cope with the cuts, NRW has been working to “redesign the organisation”, having already shed 500 staff.

The process can be required to be completed by April 2019, with the wish of which delivers £10m annual savings.

Ms McCrea told BBC Wales of which, in future, the organisation would certainly “not be able to continue perhaps inside the way of which some people expect us to”.

“We are working towards a reorganised structure, with multi-skilled teams based in different areas. however we can’t be everywhere, doing everything as some people would certainly expect.

“of which’s about prioritising along with putting our money where we can make the most difference.”

Media playback can be unsupported on your device

Media captionNRW chairwoman Diane McCrea says of which faces dealing with fresh responsibilities

River along with fishing groups along with the timber industry have been among those to raise concerns about the impact of funding cuts on NRW’s ability to do its job.

There had been “intense discussions” with ministers about where funding should be targeted.

however Ms McCrea said the Welsh Government needed to be clearer about what of which expected via the organisation, especially in light of fresh legal obligations imposed by the Environment Wales Act along with the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.

NRW facts:

  • of which was created in 2013, bringing three former environment bodies together
  • The idea was to manage Wales’ natural resources in a more joined up way, whilst delivering about £158m of savings over a decade
  • Its 1,900 staff are responsible for anything via protecting rare wildlife along with habitats, to flood prevention work
  • of which also advises on planning applications for big developments, regulating power stations along with waste processing plants
  • fresh laws passed in Wales in recent years, designed to protect the interests of future generations along with the environment have added to the workload.

NRW also wants to be allowed to raise more money by itself, capitalising on renewable energy schemes on its land, for instance.

of which also wants a longer-term budget settlement, instead of yearly funding decisions.

NRW’s chairwoman said: “We have a great ambition to deliver so many things across Wales, to improve the environment, to improve habitats, to improve the places where people live along with work – along with to sustain our economy.

“however the danger can be we won’t be able to fulfil of which ambition unless there’s clarity along with we can plan better to achieve of which.”

  • £180m budget a year

  • 1,900 staff

  • 7% of Wales’ land under its management, including forestry

  • 9,000 responses to planning applications

  • 9,000 environmental incidents responded to

The assembly’s Climate Change, Environment along with Rural Affairs Committee made fears over NRW’s budget the headline of its latest report.

of which warned of a “divergence in opinion” between the environmental regulator along with Rural Affairs Secretary Lesley Griffiths after she told AMs of which funding cuts would certainly not affect NRW’s resilience.

The committee has asked the Welsh Government to report back in six months, after carrying out a review of the capacity of NRW to fulfil its responsibilities.

Chairman along with Labour AM Mike Hedges said he thought NRW needed to be “much keener on raising money along with not just keeping hoping the government will provide”.

Mr Hedges added: “If we find of which they haven’t got sufficient funds when we reinvestigate of which later inside the year then, obviously, we will raise of which with cabinet secretaries for rural affairs along with finance.”

A Welsh Government spokesman added: “We are working closely with NRW to find additional sources of income along with, only last week, the minister opened their fresh testing along with analysis laboratory in Swansea University.

“of which can be an excellent example of collaborative working of which provides great commercial potential for NRW.”

Source link

Leave a Reply