(Title Image: BBC Wales)
Here’s a summary of this afternoon’s Environment Questions.
Farmers “need to dispose of plastic waste responsibly”
Shadow Environment & Rural Affairs Minister, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central), said that while disposal of farm-related plastics was ultimately a commercial decision, the market has dried up and created a log jam – which he believed could be partly down to government regulations.
While the Minister said there’s an opportunity for a UK-wide solution:
“I think farmers also recognise it’s important to collect and treat the waste, and all other businesses have to pay for their recycling here in Wales. Having said that, officials have been in discussions with DEFRA. DEFRA didn’t include farm plastic fill on the list of candidate products for extended producer responsibility. We thought that was something that perhaps should be covered in a UK- wide scheme, and I’ve asked officials to continue to look at that.”
– Energy, Environment & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham)
The Welsh Government’s role in nuclear waste
Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) asked for clarity over what Wales’ responsibilites for nuclear waste were within the devolution settlement.
“I want to refer, if I may, to the consultation document of your own Government on disposing of radioactive waste – geological disposal. Now, I will quote from that document, and it says, ‘Radioactive waste disposal is a devolved matter – the Welsh Government is responsible for determining the policy for this within Wales’.
“But, looking at….the Government of Wales Act 2006, that states that powers the nuclear energy and nuclear stations are reserved…..There are no exceptions, no carve-outs, as there are in the Scottish context…..Can you therefore confirm that legislating on disposal of radioactive material is beyond the competence of this Assembly, which is contrary to what you claim in your own consultation document?”
– Llyr Gruffydd AM
No clarity was forthcoming:
“The radioactive waste management disposal, which I think is what you’re referring to, is not the same as nuclear waste. The higher activity radioactive waste is being created in Wales, and that’s why the Welsh Government agreed to take part in the UK Government programme for its disposal.”
– Energy, Environment & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths
The Minister reiterated that no communities in Wales have been shortlisted for nuclear waste burial. Neither the Welsh or UK governments will decide where the burial facility could go – it’ll be down to individual communities to come forward.
Anti-nesting netting “should be used sparingly”
There were a number of questions on species decline and biodiversity, with Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda) and Joyce Watson AM (Lab, Mid & West Wales) raising a recent UN report that states a million species are at threat of extinction. Within Wales 1-in-14 species are under threat. With the “climate emergency” in mind and the First Minister’s assertion that it didn’t require a big shift in policy, was that nothing more than a PR stunt?
Nick Ramsay AM (Con, Monmouth) asked about improvements to water quality and Mike Hedges AM (Lab, Swansea East) asked what actions would be taken to stop people from preventing birds from nesting – an issue in the news recently.
To the Minister, the climate emergency wasn’t just window dressing. It’s resulted in serious advice being sought from relevant bodies and “emergency” isn’t a word that can be bandied about.
On the other two questions, conservation will form part of marine policies going forward and she’ll write to council planning departments to remind them that “netting” is only to be used “sparingly and very specifically”.