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A single environment body for Wales
This was the message from Environment Minister, John Griffiths who has agreed to the Environment Agency Wales (EAW), the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) and Forestry Commission Wales (FCW) being brought together into one organisation.
The Minister’s decision follows nine months of scoping work by Welsh Government officials, representatives from the three bodies and other organisations with an interest in the sector. The Minister made his decision after considering a detailed business case that assessed the move to a single environment body.
Over a ten year period, it is estimated that the transition from three environment bodies to just one could result in savings of up to £158m.
Speaking about his decision, the Minister said:
“We know that the natural environment is crucial to the Welsh economy and that modern life means that pressure on our natural resources is constantly increasing.
“This means it is more important than ever that our environment is managed as effectively and efficiently as possible to ensure the best outcomes for Wales.
“Having carefully considered the business case, I am convinced that the establishment of a single environmental body will ensure the most sustainable and effective management of Wales’ natural resources.
“Not only will one body result in a more streamlined way of working, it will also ensure more effective delivery, improved value for money and better outcomes for Welsh people, Welsh businesses and the environment.
Morgan Parry, CCW Chairman, said:
“Creating this new body provides a great opportunity for a more joined up approach to managing our environment in a truly sustainable way.
“Drawing on expertise from across the three agencies, we will work to create a strong organisation that will engage with all sectors of society – from local communities to large industries - to better manage the natural resources that we all depend on.
“Some things will remain unchanged – the new body will continue to provide independent advice to Government on a wide range of environmental issues, provide sustainable management of our public lands (including national nature reserves and forests), regulate industry and promote opportunities for everyone to enjoy the outdoors. But these, and many other functions, will be approached with the benefit of a broader perspective that will make it easier to care for ecosystems in their entirety.”
Chris Mills, Director, Environment Agency Wales, said:
"We welcome the Minister’s announcement and will provide our full support to creating this new body whilst continuing to deliver for the people of Wales on flooding, waste crime and regulating industry.
"The natural environment is crucial to the Welsh economy. It’s vital that it is managed as well as possible to ensure the best outcomes for Wales. This new body has the potential to deliver more for the environment, the people and economy of Wales."
Jon Owen Jones, Chair of Forestry Commission National Committee of Wales, said:
"Forestry Commission Wales can now look to the future, fully committed to contributing our expertise, approach and attitude to the new organisation.
“We will work together to achieve better outcomes for people, the environment and the Welsh economy. Our land management skills and delivery focus will play a significant part in achieving success."
Following the Minister’s decision, a consultation on the role and functions of the new body will begin in January 2012.
A programme team staffed mainly by people from the three bodies will also be established to undertake the necessary preparatory work to ensure that the new body can function properly from 1st April 2013.