A climatic change in Welsh Government

The new Climate Change department may represent a climatic change in the approach and structure of government, affecting so many of our key policy areas
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Vapour trails over Pembrokeshire signal a huge priority for the new Welsh Government

“The creation of the new Climate Change department under the former Local Communities Minister, Julie James may represent a climatic change in the approach and structure of government, affecting so many of our key policy areas,” Nigel Hollett says. “We share the Welsh Government’s long-term commitment to the priority of tackling climate change which is more relevant than ever in the year of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). But the seeming almost all-encompassing portfolio includes vital areas of government for us: the environment and oversight of Natural Resources Wales, designated land, planning, energy – and renewables, digital connectivity, transport and access to the countryside.” Nigel adds, “We hope and expect considerable overlap or cross-fertilisation between Government departments - notably Economy and Rural Affairs to ensure all aspects of sustainability play a part in delivering policy. We engaged with Ms James before the Senedd election on matters like planning, housing and connectivity, but in the new Welsh Government this department will be absolutely key for us.”

CLA Cymru has written to the First Minister and three key Ministers in his Cabinet following the formation of the new Welsh Government in May. “We’ve asked to meet them to recommence our political engagement activity,” says Nigel. “Top of our agenda are the rural economy and its part in what we hope will be the post-pandemic recovery – and also progress on the new scheme to support Welsh agriculture. This latter priority includes how the new agricultural pollution regulations fit in a sustainable, competitive farming sector. The regs have been passed by the Senedd, but they remain controversial and it remains to be seen how their impact will be managed in the new farm-support scheme.”

“The Department for Rural Affairs Minister’s list of responsibilities is shorter than its predecessor, but this ministry is no less important to us. There’s some benefit in the continuity in Lesley Griffiths’ appointment to lead this department. Arguably, Ms Griffiths is able to focus single-mindedly on the job of shaping Wales’ new scheme to support agriculture. The next 5 year transition-phase will be critical and her department needs to deliver success without distraction and the sector might welcome this degree of focus.”

“Lesley Griffith’s ministerial responsibilities also includes North Wales. By the end of May, already Ms Griffiths had included work to be done to support the North Wales tourism sector in her statements about her approach and priorities.” Nigel continues, “We will continue to draw this Minister’s attention to the inextricable link between rural tourism and agriculture – and a need for supportive long-term structures and initiatives. It has been on the North Wales border that so many of the inconsistencies thrown-up in the planning system and also Covid 19 guidelines affecting the hospitality sector.”

“A welcome opportunity lies in the new appointment of (previous Health Minister) Vaughan Gething to the Economy Department. His priority is recovery and we have called upon him to work with his Cabinet colleagues to lead a rural economy taskforce taking advantage of the powerhouse that the rural economy offers.”