Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales has written to Natural Resources Wales to ask them to demonstrate how the Well-being of Future Generations Act is being applied during the environmental permitting process.

Sophie Howe said: 

“Over the last few months I have been contacted by a number of people who have expressed concern about a range of developments across Wales, in particular the Barry Biomass Scheme and Hazrem waste treatment facility in Cwmfelinfach.

“Unlike other Commissioners, the powers set out in the Well-being of Future Generations Act do not give me a specific case-work function and I do not have the powers or resources to take action in every issue which is raised with me.   

“I have however pledged to listen to concerns the public raise and to monitor these to detect any wider systemic issues in terms of how public bodies are applying the Well-being Future Generations Act.    

“The approach Natural Resources Wales takes in their environmental permitting decisions has emerged as a common thread in the concerns raised to me by the public and local representatives.  

“As the Future Generations Commissioner I am keen to ensure that the Well-being of Future Generations Act is embedded in the work of public bodies and in particular, that the process that is followed by Natural Resources Wales in respect of their whole approach to environmental permitting and licensing is consistent with the Act and that generally the Well-being of Future Generations Act is embedded in the work of public bodies.   

“I have therefore formally requested further information from Natural Resources Wales including worked examples of how the Act has been applied alongside the requirements of other legislation. This request was made prior to the recent decision made on Barry Biomass.  

“Following an exchange of correspondence and a meeting with myself and Diane McCrea Chair of Natural Resources Wales, they have indicated that they are willing to cooperate in providing this information and I welcome their willingness to do so. I will consider the information they provide closely in the light of the duties set out the Act. “