Bosses defend NRW

1st June 2015

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Related tags

  • Natural resources ,
  • Management ,
  • Corporate governance ,
  • Ecosystems


Paul Owen

The chief executive and chair at Natural Resources Wales have strongly defended the organisation after stakeholders accused it of "losing focus" on the environment, lacking consistency in its planning advice and operating as if it were a department of the Welsh government rather than an independent body.

Appearing before the environment and sustainability committee of the Welsh assembly, chief executive Emry Roberts claimed NRW had not lost focus on the environment, but had also to consider the economy and society when taking decisions.

“Part of our purpose is to look at the environment, including the environment itself, but the impact on the economy and society too,” he said.

NRW was created in 2013 by merging the Welsh arms of the Environment Agency and the Forestry Commission, and the Countryside Council for Wales. Its chair, Peter Matthews, told the committee that the organisation was working differently from the original three bodies and that some stakeholders, including members of the workforce, were struggling to come to terms with NRW’s approach. “The whole idea of integrated natural resource management is new. In fact, we are global leaders. People are finding it quite difficult to come to terms with [that],” he said.

Challenged by the committee about accusations of inconsistency in its advice on planning, Roberts said: “A year ago, we were only responding to about 70% of planning applications on time. Now we’re achieving over 90% on time, and that is way above what the legacy bodies achieved.”

Roberts rebutted allegations that NRW lacked independence. “Our job is to look at all the evidence and come up with our own independent consideration of the development. We’re not influenced by departments in reaching that,” he said.


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