Hope for National Parks as Minister announces ‘pause to reflect’

Above: delegates at our ‘Facing the Future’ conference in October keeping a close eye on National Park issues. Image Laurence Clark

The Snowdonia Society offers its warmest congratulations to Hannah Blythyn AM (Daily Post picture below) on getting off to a flying start in her new role as Environment Minister.  In a short space of time she has shown a real interest in the vital work which environmental organisations do for Wales, and has been busy seeing some of that work for herself.

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The Minister has announced her decision to ‘pause and reflect on the activities and future’ of the Future Landscapes Wales (FLW) group.  This is a sensible and timely decision, following publication of the controversial ‘Future Landscapes: Delivering for Wales’ report in May.  The Snowdonia Society helped lead the response to that report and our members were instrumental in shaping the Assembly debate in June, where AMs raised serious concerns about the omission of conservation safeguards.

In taking this decision the Minister has given herself and officials some time to consider the many thousands of responses to the recent consultation on natural resource management which included specific questions on the future of National Parks and AONBs in Wales.

Along with so many who care passionately about protecting our magnificent National Parks, we look forward to working with the Minister to make them the very best they can be.

The Minister’s statement:

Written Statement – Chair of Future Landscapes Wales

Hannah Blythyn, Minister for Environment

Following his appointment as Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM will not continue in his role with the Future Landscapes Wales group. I am, therefore, taking this opportunity to pause and reflect on the activities and future of the group.

Since October 2015 when the Future Landscapes Wales Working Group was established, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM has led representatives of the national parks, AONBs, interest groups and business in their exploration of the Marsden Review recommendations and the case for reform. He made a significant  contribution to ensuring the many different partners involved were able to contribute their views, engage in frank debate, and ultimately publish “Future Landscapes: Delivering for Wales” earlier this year.  The Welsh Government sought views on key proposals from this work, relating to the role and governance of the designated landscapes, as part of the consultation on Taking Forward Wales’ Sustainable Management of Natural Resources.

I anticipate making a full statement on the way forward with designated landscapes early in the New Year, by which time I will have reviewed all the responses to this consultation. My response will also consider whether a formal group, such as the one which existed for Future Landscapes Wales, is needed to develop and strengthen the partnerships and collaborative working necessary to deliver the landscapes, rich ecosystems and vibrant rural communities I want for the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks.

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