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Concern over prolonged Welsh Government inaction on environmental governance & biodiversity targets

In declaring her support for the Environment Bill, and in calling on the Senedd to pass a legislative consent motion, the Shadow Minister for Climate Change - Janet Finch-Saunders MS – has praised the UK Government’s work to address the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, all the while protecting and improving the environment for future generations.

She used a wide-ranging speech to call on the Welsh Government to prioritise the introduction of a Clean Air Act for Wales and address a fall in the funding of actions. The £3.4 million revenue funding and £17 million capital funding allocated for air quality action in 2021-22 a fall on the previous year.

Mrs Finch-Saunders also made clear the concerns of stakeholders with regards to the Interim Assessor for Environmental Protection for Wales – a role which is different to that of formal oversight and enforcement of environmental law.

Speaking of the need for action on environmental governance, Janet said:

“By establishing the Office for Environmental Protection, the UK Government is looking to set the benchmark for excellence in environmental regulation. In contrast, this Welsh Government has consistently placed long-term arrangements for environmental governance on the back burner. “During the Fifth Senedd, I repeatedly challenged the then-Minister for Environment to come forward with substantive plans. Now into the Sixth Senedd, and the timeline for the establishment of a successor environmental governance body for Wales still remains unclear. “This is why I have urged the Welsh Government to make a firm commitment that the Senedd’s Environmental Governance Bill will be brought forward at the start of the second year of the legislative programme.

A prolific supporter of statutory targets for biodiversity recovery, the Member of the Welsh Parliament for Aberconwy also warned that ‘nature cannot play second fiddle to the climate.’ Janet used the speech to call on the Welsh Government to set long term targets via a framework informed by independent expertise and scientific advice.

Underlining the need for action, Janet said:

“Talking about delay, whilst I note in the Minister’s response to the CCEI report that this Welsh Government now finally accept the necessity of biodiversity targets in principle, to learn that they are planning to postpone this work until after COP 15 in May 2022 is gravely concerning. “Having declared a nature emergency, Wales cannot dither and delay. We cannot address the nature emergency solely as a subsidiary of the climate emergency and nature cannot play second fiddle to the climate. This is why I am calling for the establishment of statutory targets as soon as practicable.”

ENDS

Photo: Janet Finch-Saunders MS/AS

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