Minister: Temporary 50mph limits to remain “for as long as necessary” to deal with air pollution

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

No confidence in Natural Resources Wales (NRW)?

With reports that, in a leaked correspondence, timber firms have “no confidence” in NRW’s ability to manage Welsh forestry, Shadow Environment & Rural Affairs Minister, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central), said Wales was potentially missing out of £100million and up to 12,000 jobs.

The Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham) confirmed the correspondence was genuine and will be responded to “in due course”. She hoped that recent changes at board level in NRW will boost confidence in the sector.

Investing in renewables

Following on from yesterday’s emergency question on Wylfa Newydd, Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) asked whether the news the project has stalled will spur further investment in renewables by the Welsh Government?

The Minister spoke favourably about next week’s summit in Swansea on tidal energy, but the Welsh Government’s plans for renewables or low-carbon energy hasn’t changed.

Llyr found that a bit strange as he would’ve expected the announcement to radically change the government’s plans, but one thing he did pick up on was the First Minister’s leadership campaign promise to create a co-operative energy company – a cause célèbre for Plaid Cymru. Would such a company be based on Anglesey?

The Minister confirmed preliminary work was underway:

“I can’t give that commitment, but certainly I’ve had very early discussions with the First Minister. I think, probably the Monday after he became First Minister, I had a discussion around his plans in relation to that and he’s asked officials to work on that for him.”
– Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths

Temporary 50mph limits to stay

There were a number of questions and statements relating to air pollution, including greening urban areas, cuts to public transport, how air pollution is monitored and temporary speed limit cuts to deal with air pollution.

The Minister said there was a vision for re-greening Wales in place, with a vision for the creation of a national forest.

Air pollution remained a priority for the government and the Minister confirmed that temporary speed restrictions would remain in place for as long as they’re deemed necessary – including one in her own constituency:

“We will leave them in place as long as we think necessary to maintain air quality standards on that part of the road. I think what’s really paramount to the effectiveness of these 50mph speed limits – I’ve got one in my own constituency – obviously, is compliance. I think we need to be much more upfront about what it is. I’ve certainly heard people say in Wrexham that they don’t understand why they’ve got that stretch of 50mph. We’ve now got a sign saying that it’s to reduce emissions. But I think perhaps we need to be even more clear in relation to that.”
– Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths

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