John Griffiths, Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development
I am pleased to report on the recent meeting of the Climate Change Commission for Wales, held on 12 March in Cardiff and chaired by Peter Davies, Climate Change Commissioner for Wales.
I attended the Commission meeting and had the opportunity to update the Commission on a number of issues, including our proposals for the single body to manage Wales’ natural resources. The new single body will bring together the functions of the Countryside Council for Wales, the Environment Agency Wales, and the Forestry Commission Wales. The new body will have a key role in protecting our natural resources and working with businesses in Wales. It will also provide environmental advice and input to our planning processes and to the development of new legislation, helping us to design new regulatory arrangements which simplify regulatory processes and encourage investment, whilst maintaining the environment of Wales.
In addition, I highlighted the First Minister’s statement on energy for Wales on 15 March, setting out the Welsh Government’s aims for energy generation in Wales, the steps we are taking to make this happen, and to ensure that the energy industry and stakeholders are clear on the future for energy in Wales. The statement has been developed taking into account our commitments to a low carbon, sustainable economy.
I confirmed that the Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) was published in January and that I had given a statement to Plenary on this matter. The CCRA includes a specific report for Wales that presents a wide-reaching assessment of the potential risks arising from climate change for the next eighty years.
We will be using the evidence in the CCRA to increase Wales’ resilience to the changing climate through sectoral adaptation planning. Alongside our CCRA partners, we are working on an economic analysis that will estimate a “price-tag” of adaptation overall and outline options we have to adapt to the most pressing risks.
On a similar note, I also confirmed that the Welsh Government published guidance documents to support local authorities in the preparation of their Local Flood Risk Management Strategies. Two workshops were also held to assist local authorities in understanding the requirements of their local strategies.
Significant work has also been undertaken in relation to improving reservoir safety in Wales. We are currently consulting on our proposals to commence the provision contained in Schedule 4 of the Flood and Water Management Act, which includes a number of provisions amending the Reservoirs Act 1975.
A joint industry-government working group has published a report identifying solutions to enhance public flood safety at caravan and camping sites. We are now considering the recommendations made in this report.
I informed members that we have produced a DVD called “Better Choices – Better Places” to encourage Local Service Boards (LSBs) to take action on carbon reduction and resilience measures. The DVD features Ceredigion, Gwynedd and Powys LSBs, who are all working towards reducing their carbon footprints, and Flintshire LSB, which is taking the lead on improving adaptation and resilience among its partner bodies. The Carbon Trust was our partner in developing the emission reduction case study films.
I also updated the Commission on developments in the Arbed programme. We have now been able to commit an additional £6.6m as an extension to Arbed Phase 1. This funding includes the additional £3m which was highlighted last December that came from the £38.9m consequential funding resulting from the council tax freeze in England.
In addition to this £6.6m, we have enabled the reinvestment of approximately £3m released from the repayment of funding provided for solar PV projects. We expect this additional funding into Arbed Phase 1 to increase the total number of households improved from 6,000 to 7,500.
Also, I confirmed that its first ten months, Nest has agreed energy improvement packages for over 3,500 households which were due to be complete by the end of March 2012. These packages are expected to deliver benefits averaging £470 per annum per household based on current modelling. In addition, to date more than 11,500 customers have received a range of advice including energy efficiency, debt and money management.
Members were pleased to hear that the Sustainable Development Charter network is going from strength to strength with 123 organisations currently signed up. Most recent signatories include BT and Tata Steel, demonstrating a commitment from Welsh businesses to adopting more sustainable practices.
Finally, I provided an update on our climate change and sustainable behaviours research.
We have developed research into an audience segmentation model which has six audience groups who are distinctive in terms of their values and attitudes toward climate change and sustainable development. We tested this model at an event for our Sustainable Futures Practitioners’ Network in December. We are now finalising and testing the model using information gathered during focus groups for the narratives project and scoping work for a future climate change PR campaign.
The Commission discussed the development of the Commission’s position paper on Climate Change and Transport. The paper is the first position statement produced by the Commission, and provides an assessment and recommendations on transport and climate change to inform the work of the Commission and Welsh Government, and advise stakeholders and the public on key issues. In developing the paper, the Commission’s Transport Sub-Group commissioned research and engaged with stakeholders in order to build on the best available evidence and reflect the expertise and experiences of those involved in decision-making and delivery in transport and climate change in Wales.
Members also discussed the group’s ongoing forward work programme, and participated in a Wales Green List event.
The Wales Green List brings together individuals from across all sectors and from all walks of life who are taking the lead in tackling the sustainability challenges faced in cities and communities, creating change.
The event was an award ceremony to select projects from across Wales who provide support to individuals and groups to find new and innovative methods to engage people to deliver real sustainable changes in their lives, and inspire others to do the same.
The Commission also received presentations on the Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) and a presentation on the planning review by John Davies who Chair’s the Independent Advisory group tasked with making recommendations to the Welsh Government.
The next meeting of the Climate Change Commission will be held in June 2012.