Barry biomass incinerator environmental assessment decision faces further delay

(Title Image: The Barry Gem)

Here’s a round-up of this afternoon’s Environment Questions.

A Blunt Tool

Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) asked what evidence the Energy, Environment & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham), had that the Welsh Government’s proposals to replace basic payments would be a better system than the current one?

“I didn’t ask you to deconstruct CAP and the basic payments; I asked you whether what you’re proposing will actually deliver the outcomes that you’re critical of the current system of not delivering, because you don’t know, do you? And that’s the reality, because you haven’t done the modelling, you haven’t done the piloting; there’s no evidence that your never-before-tried proposals will actually deliver the outcomes that you want.”
– Llyr Gruffydd AM

The Secretary said basic payments were a “blunt tool” that didn’t appropriately protect farmers from income volatility – such as the impact of bad weather. A White Paper will be published next spring and the two funds that will replace basic payments will respectively focus on food production/business resilience and to reward farmers for good land management.

Barry Incinerator EIA

Shadow Environment & Rural Affairs Minister, Andrew RT Davies (Con, South Wales Central) asked for an update on a Welsh Government decision whether to order an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the controversial waste wood-to-energy incinerator in Barry.

The Environment Minister, Hannah Blythyn (Lab, Delyn), said a decision was due at the end of November, but further legal clarity has been necessary.

“I hope to be able to be in a position to make a decision as soon as possible. I recognise the concerns around this, but, as the Member himself said, due diligence is of the utmost importance when it comes to such a complex case and issue as this. We must make sure that we follow all—take the relevant legal advice and do everything we can possible to make the best decision.”
– Environment Minister, Hannah Blythyn

Andrew Davies said it’s now been 300 days since the Minister committed to making a decision. It wasn’t acceptable that 8 months on she was “trotting out that answer”. With Christmas recess near, he hoped the Minister would give some idea of the timescales.

The Minister declined, saying while she was aware of concerns from residents and AMs, the proper legal process has to be seen through.

Planning Regulations & Climate Change

Caroline Jones AM (Ind, South Wales West) asked how the Welsh Government will ensure planning regulations take climate change into account? During the summer heatwave, many new-build houses overheated and this has led to increased demand for air conditioning.

The Cabinet Secretary said it was important we don’t build houses now that will need to be retrofitted in 25 years time. New planning policies introduced last week do address climate change in the planning system. With the Senedd passing climate change target regulations last week, housing will play a big part in meeting those targets.

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