Pwyllgor Newid Hinsawdd, yr Amgylchedd a Seilwaith

Climate Change, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee

30/06/2022

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Delyth Jewell MS
Huw Irranca-Davies MS
Janet Finch-Saunders MS
Jenny Rathbone MS
Joyce Watson MS
Llyr Gruffydd MS Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Annie Smith RSPB Cymru
RSPB Cymru
Dr Nerys Llewelyn Jones Asesydd Interim Diogelu'r Amgylchedd Cymru
Interim Environmental Protection Assessor for Wales
Gareth Cunningham Y Gymdeithas Cadwraeth Forol
Marine Conservation Society
Peter Davies Grwp Gorchwyl a Gorffen Adferiad Gwyrdd
Green Recovery Task and Finish Group
Professor Steve Ormerod Prifysgol Caerdydd
Cardiff University
Sarah Williams Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru
Natural Resources Wales
Sir David Henshaw Grwp Gorchwyl a Gorffen Adferiad Gwyrdd
Green Recovery Task and Finish Group

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Elizabeth Wilkinson Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Marc Wyn Jones Clerc
Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:30.

The committee met in the Senedd and by video-conference.

The meeting began at 09:30.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions, and declarations of interest

Bore da a chroeso i chi i gyd i Bwyllgor Newid Hinsawdd, yr Amgylchedd a Seilwaith, Senedd Cymru. Croeso i Aelodau i'r cyfarfod. Mae hwn yn gyfarfod sy'n cael ei gynnal ar ffurf hybrid, felly mae nifer o Aelodau a thystion yn ymuno â ni drwy gynhadledd fideo bore yma, ac ar wahân i addasiadau sy'n ymwneud â chynnal y trafodion ar ffurf hybrid, mae holl ofynion eraill o ran y Rheolau Sefydlog yn parhau.

Good morning and welcome, all, to the Climate Change, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee at the Senedd. Welcome, Members, to the meeting. This is a meeting that's being held in a hybrid format, so a number of witnesses and Members are joining us through video-conference this morning, and aside from adaptations relating to conducting proceedings in hybrid format, all other Standing Order requirements remain in place.

Janet, do you want to raise anything?

Likewise for Joyce as well, I think. Okay. Shall we just pause for a moment, then, just to see whether that can be remedied? Yes.

Ie, dyna ni.

There we are.

Ocê. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi. Roeddwn i jest yn egluro bod y cyfarfod yn digwydd ar ffurf hybrid, a bod nifer o Aelodau a thystion yn ymuno â ni drwy gynhadledd fideo bore yma, a bod holl ofynion y Rheolau Sefydlog yn parhau ar wahân i addasiadau sy'n ymwneud â chynnal y trafodion ar ffurf hybrid. Mi fydd eitemau cyhoeddus yn cael eu darlledu’n fyw ar Senedd.tv a Chofnod y Trafodion yn cael ei gyhoeddi yn ôl yr arfer. Mae e yn gyfarfod dwyieithog ac rŷn ni'n gobeithio nawr ein bod ni wedi datrys unrhyw broblemau gyda'r cyfieithu, ond mae yna gyfieithu ar gael, fel ŷch chi'n gwybod, o'r Gymraeg i'r Saesneg. Os bydd larwm tân yn canu, mi ddylai Aelodau a thystion adael yr ystafell trwy'r allanfeydd tân, ond gan bod mwy ohonoch chi'n ymuno â ni o bell, dwi ddim yn meddwl bod hynny yr un mor berthnasol efallai, ond yn amlwg mi gymerwn ni hynny o ddifrif fan hyn os ydy e'n digwydd, gan nad oes ychwaith ymarferiad, hyd y gwyddom ni, yn yr arfaeth. Gaf i ofyn felly i chi sicrhau bod unrhyw ddyfeisiadau wedi eu diffodd, neu o leiaf wedi eu distewi? A gaf i hefyd ofyn os oes gan unrhyw un fuddiannau i'w datgan? Nag oes, neb yn nodi. Ocê, diolch yn fawr iawn i chi.

Okay, thank you very much. I was just explaining that the meeting was being held in a hybrid format, and that many Members are joining us by video-conference this morning, and that all requirements of Standing Orders remain in place, apart from the adaptations relating to conducting proceedings in a hybrid format. The public items will be broadcast live on Senedd.tv and a Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. It is a bilingual meeting, and we do hope that we've resolved any problems with the interpretation, but interpretation is available from Welsh to English, as you will know. If there should be a fire alarm, then Members and witnesses should leave the room through the marked fire exits, but as more of you are joining us virtually, I don't think that that is perhaps as relevant as usual, but clearly, we will take that seriously here if it should happen, because we're not expecting a fire drill this morning, as far as we know. Could I ask you to ensure that any mobile devices are switched off, or at least turned to silent mode? And can I also ask if there are any declarations of interest? No, there are none. Thank you very much.

2. Adferiad Gwyrdd yng Nghymru
2. Green recovery in Wales

Mi symudwn ni, felly, at y sesiwn dystiolaeth gyntaf, lle rŷn ni'n edrych ar yr adferiad gwyrdd ac yn canolbwyntio ar y cynnydd sydd wedi cael ei wneud o ran gweithredu camau gweithredu sy'n deillio o waith y tasglu adferiad gwyrdd. Fe fyddwch chi'n cofio bod y tasglu wedi ei sefydlu nôl yn 2020 gyda'r nod o nodi blaenoriaethau i weithredu arnyn nhw ar gyfer cynllun adfer o COVID-19 Llywodraeth Cymru. Mi gafodd y dasg o ddatblygu syniadau sy'n cysylltu gweithredu ar yr hinsawdd a chreu swyddi, twf economaidd cynhwysol a theg, yn ogystal â datblygu cynllun i sefydlogi'r trydydd sector amgylcheddol.

Mae gennym ni o'n blaenau ni fan hyn i roi tystiolaeth y bore yma dri pherson allweddol yn y broses hynny, ac rŷn ni'n estyn croeso cynnes iddyn nhw: Syr David Henshaw, cadeirydd y tasglu, ac wrth gwrs, cadeirydd Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru—croeso; Sarah Williams, sy'n bennaeth strategaeth corfforaethol gyda Chyfoeth Naturiol Cymru; a Peter Davies, sy'n gadeirydd Cyngor Gweithredu Gwirfoddol Cymru, ac wrth gwrs, yn aelod o'r tasglu adferiad gwyrdd. Croeso i'r tri ohonoch chi.

Awn ni'n syth i mewn i gwestiynau os ydy hynny'n iawn, ac mi wnaf i gychwyn, os caf i. Mae adolygiad The Funding Centre yn awgrymu creu ffordd o fonitro cynnydd yn erbyn prosiectau blaenoriaethau gweithredu, felly'r cwestiwn yn syml yw: sut fydd hynny'n cael ei roi ar waith? Efallai y gwnaf i ofyn i Syr David i ymateb yn gyntaf.

Okay, we will move on to our first evidence session, where we are looking at the green recovery, focusing on progress made towards implementation of actions arising from the work of the green recovery taskforce. You will recall that the taskforce was set up back in 2020 with a view to identify priorities for the Welsh Government's recovery plan from COVID-19. It was tasked with developing ideas that link climate action and job creation, inclusive and fair economic growth, as well as developing a plan to stabilise the environmental third sector.

Joining us this morning, we have three key individuals in that process, and we extend a very warm welcome to them: Sir David Henshaw, the chair of the taskforce, and chair of Natural Resources Wales—a very warm welcome to you; Sarah Williams, head of corporate strategy at NRW, and Peter Davies, chair of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, and a member of the green recovery taskforce. A warm welcome to all three of you.

We'll go straight into questions, if that's okay, and I'll start, if I may. The Funding Centre review suggests creating a way of monitoring progress against priority action projects, so the simple question is: how will that be taken forward? And perhaps I'll ask Sir David to respond first.

Thanks very much, Chair. Just by way of background, the first thing to point out is, actually, this was a group set up to actually stimulate and keep the green flag flying, if you like, in the context of where we were in the pandemic at the start of the pandemic. So, the methodology adopted was actually to try and listen first to what was out there—some ideas. So, the call for ideas was not a usual procurement process in seeking ideas or through more of an evaluation process; it was a way of getting things moving to see what was out there in the way of ideas. So, as the Funding Centre report explains in some detail, a whole series of projects came forward, and as you'll recall and know, there was no funding directly available to the taskforce initially, and so we were looking at how we could stimulate these projects and move forward. Clearly, we need to look at that, and we are currently considering our own future and actually how we carry on, if we do carry on. We need to actually work out some of the procedures we've got in place for looking at these projects again. I suspect that, as we move forward, and if we can find the funding and make it available, not necessarily through the green recovery taskforce, but through other means, that these projects will actually be relooked at through other lenses, rather than a green recovery lens. There are proposals in front on us at the moment to look at that, and how we would put that in place, but I think we are at a bit of a pivotal moment in deciding how we go forward, and I think that's probably the best way to put it at this stage. I'm happy to take any supplementaries.

09:35

When you say 'looking at them through other lenses', what do you mean? What kind of lenses would those be, for example?

Well, another lens would be, for example, through a funding programme that wouldn't necessarily be under the auspices of the green recovery group.

The point is that the green recovery group has no funding stream associated with it directly. We were there to stimulate, call for ideas, work out what the problems and barriers to progress were, et cetera. So, I suspect some of these projects—quite a few of them—would find their homes in other programmes. But we can come on to, if you like, the learning from all this work, which I think is the more important issue about how we organise better to support these sorts of projects.

So, that is a proactive role that the group is playing in terms of signposting or passing projects on to potential funders, and that kind of thing?

It's partly that. But I think the more important issue that's come of the work is, actually, when you start examining—. When we went out with a call for ideas and we got them back, we discovered a huge issue in relation to how easy it was to get projects moving—barriers to progress. And some of those were process barriers, some of those were structural barriers; some of them were simply about people didn't know where to go. There were, frankly, some bureaucratic obstacles that we discovered that were causing all sorts of confusion to some people with projects. And so, one of the outcomes of our work was—and it's in the Funding Centre report; we've talked to Government ourselves about it—we really need to get this simplified. There's a plethora of funding streams available, and sometimes it's very difficult to navigate, as a voluntary organisation, an environmental non-governmental organisation, to find the right place to go. And when you get there, there is, in some areas, a lack of connectivity between these different programmes.

Okay. So, what we've had, in effect, is some kind of a deep dive then, thinking of some of those processes that the Government have put in place, but with more to it than just that, clearly. But that's clearly one message that's coming through, I think, isn't it, in terms of busting the barriers?

Yes, I think it's—. You could budget a deep dive now, I suspect, in the new nomenclature, but I think the issue really for us is—and we've taken this to heart in NRW in relooking at our grants system—if you're a voluntary NGO with a good scheme, it's quite a crowded landscape to work out where to go, actually what funding to apply for, and then, once you do that, some of the barriers and some of the processes we put in place—and when I say 'we', collectively I mean—are actually quite difficult to overcome. And sometimes there is a lack of connectivity between some of the public bodies involved: local government, Welsh Government, ourselves at NRW, et cetera. All of these things mitigate against a very clean and easy way of seeking funding.

Thank you. Good morning. Given the absence of a clear funding stream for the priorities for action proposals, what examples can you provide of any green recovery projects here in Wales?

Well, I think we'll come on to the national nature service, which we'll talk about a bit later on. But I think a really good example of this is the green spine in Anglesey, which is actually a scheme on its way to being implemented.

Spine, in Anglesey. Perhaps I can get Sarah to talk about this in more detail, as she's close to the detail on it. That might be helpful.

Hi, there. So, the green spine is a project proposal that came through from the call for good ideas. The team, the partnership team, worked with the project proposers and looked at the connectivity around that project within the wider public and third sector on Anglesey. So, the essence of the idea was to connect the various active travel routes and old, disused railway routes from the south of Anglesey to the north of Anglesey, creating a really truly accessible cycling and walking path, accessible to disabled people and for pushing puschairs, and to build that connectivity across the island. It's also to make sure that those routes that were developed were making the benefits for nature, so, making it connected in the landscape for nature, as well as connecting people through the path across the island.

So, the proposal came through and then the funding that was released by Welsh Government through the end-of-year funding. We worked with Welsh Government to identify this project and identify a funding mechanism, which was through the local authority and Menter Môn. So, Menter Môn and the local authority worked together with the proposer, they secured a block of additional money, which they were unable to spend by year end, but they identified a way forward that enabled them, through the remainder of last year, to take forward a series of improvements. And they've identified about 40 sub-projects, which will take that initiative forward.

09:40

Thank you. So, how many active travel routes have been connected over this period of time?

Anglesey green spine is one example. In the December report, there were a number of proposals that came through that related to active travel—

But how many have actually been connected as a result of this joint working?

Right. In terms of bringing people together and talking about it, do you mean?

Okay. I think it's important to remember that a number of the proposals that came in in that first summer call for good ideas coincided with a series of Welsh Government funding, through local authorities, for active travel routes and specific investment through the local authorities. So, a number of those good ideas were taken forward through that route, not specifically through the route of the green recovery group.

Right. So, you don't know of any new schemes or new connections—

No, no. The green spine. The green spine is a new scheme, yes.

Yes. Work is going on on the ground to do the infrastructure on the sites.

In fairness, Janet, I think the point is that the green spine is one of a number of projects that are being pursued. Huw, did you want to come in on this?

Yes. Thank you, Chair. I just wondered, one of the other schemes that I think falls under the work that you're doing—and I know we've got a local interest in this, particularly across the south Wales Valleys—is the Valleys regional park. Does that fall within this as well? And I wonder if you can just give us an update on how that is progressing.

Okay. So, it might be better for Peter to talk about the Valleys regional park aspect, because that is picked up through the national nature service proposal.

Thank you, Chair. The Valleys regional park is going to be the demonstration project for the national nature service. So, the wider concept of having a national nature service for Wales will be developed and demonstrated within the context of the Valleys regional park. So, we'll be working closely with the team at Valleys regional park in putting together the initial plans for that. The Minister announced in May some funding that would allow that demonstration work to start, essentially, and we're now at a point where we have an initiation meeting on Monday, in fact, with Valleys regional park to look at how that initial investment for the national nature service will then take place in order to build a business plan for delivery in the Valleys regional park and as a model, thereby, for a national nature service across Wales.

Okay. Thank you, Peter. Given that we've started talking about the national nature service, shall we just pursue this for a moment, then? Delyth, do you want to come in on this now? Then we can come back to Janet

09:45

Ie. Diolch am hwnna. Bore da.

Thank you, and good morning.

Hi, everyone. Yes, this has already been anticipated. I was going to ask if you could give us a sense of how that work is progressing on the national nature service. And, as well as that, could you tell us—? So, we've heard from stakeholders that—. Before we're looking at the creation of green jobs and making all of those connections, eco-literacy is really important, and increasing this sense of connection, I suppose, from quite a young age, that children feel with nature and the sense of joy, and then that can translate into wanting to go into a green workforce. How do you think those connections are being made or could be made? I appreciate that that's a slightly tangential point, but it would be interesting to hear your thoughts.

I'll start on that point, because I think we have a great foundation in Wales. You know, we've got the forest school network and the eco-schools network, which are really strong. But I think what we fail upon is the transition forward from that, the continuity forward from that, and that's where a national nature service can play a key role. And it is about building eco-literacy across the whole workforce. There's definitely a pathway that is around green jobs and delivering green jobs and skills for green jobs, but, actually, it is about an eco-literate workforce in the whole. So, if I take an example: for me, the inspiration for the national nature service comes from organisations like Cynon Valley Organic Adventures in Abercynon. They've been using the Kickstart programme there to engage young people and build skills and build confidence, and there's a great story of—we're featuring this in the WCVA annual report—an individual who went on their nature-based training programme, built her confidence, and is now actually undertaking car mechanics training. So, it's not about necessarily that one pathway into a green job; it is about ensuring that there is an eco-literate workforce in the round.

Potentially, the national nature service could really be transformative. It's definitely an ambitious concept, and it's one that—. Since we started the green recovery group work and proposals were submitted, and WCVA and the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission submitted the proposal for a national nature service, because it originates—. Well, as with many good ideas, there are many sources of where it originates, but, certainly, one of the key points was included in the food and farming commission report as a recommendation. So, we picked that up and put it into the green recovery process. The engagement of stakeholders over that period has been amazing. We've had about 150 more organisations and individuals involved in Zoom calls to build very much a co-produced concept of a national nature service.

A slight frustration has been that that momentum—. We've had quite a long delay in the momentum, between that process and the announcement of some support funding to develop the idea. Now, in many respects, I understand that, because, actually, this concept has to involve the whole range of Government departments. It is about the economy, it is about skills, it is absolutely about nature, and it's obviously about linking back into the education system as well. So, there's had to be quite a bit of work going on within Government to have those conversations across all of those departments. That's taken a bit of time, but we've now had the announcement, as I say, on 11 May from the Minister of £166,000 for an initial development phase, to work with Valleys Regional Park and, I hope, one other development project, which we're aiming to—. We've had discussions with the North Wales Economic Ambition Board, so we hope to have two development projects—one in Valleys Regional Park and one in north Wales—that will provide the capacity to demonstrate that there is something in this concept that has a national potential to it. So, that's currently where we are—a lot of stakeholder interest across the board, and, yes, a lot of enthusiasm about the concept. So, now it's about making it happen in practice.

Excellent. Yes, a lot of enthusiasm and excitement here as well, I'm sure, amongst Members, to see how that goes and, hopefully, it will be extended to north Wales, as you said, and it'll continue to grow from there. Sorry, Janet—right, back to you.

It's all right. Could you provide an update on the scale of jobs and skills training pipelines that are in place through the national nature service, please?

At the minute, obviously, the service doesn't exist, and we're at the development stage, but if I could just refer to some of the research work that provides the evidence base for the national nature service, RSPB Cymru's research highlighted there could be almost 7,000 new direct full-time equivalent jobs in Wales as a result of an investment of a national nature service in this way. The future generations office research has highlighted there's a significant skills gap in fulfilling the potential for nature restoration-based green job creation, set out in a detailed report. So, we've had quite a lot of research in terms of the evidence base in terms of the skills gap that we need to fill and the potential for green jobs in habitat restoration and creation that there is. So, the evidence base is strong; we now need to make that investment in order to translate that evidence base into practical skills.

09:50

Thank you. I think we'd all agree that there is a clear skills shortage in the green sector here in Wales. I suppose my question is: what more can the Welsh Government be doing to build on this, and is there a big enough gap in the market for green jobs in Wales to be internationally competitive against other countries who might actually progress rather more quickly than we have?

I would say that if we can make the national nature service work, it would be of international significance, because while there are examples of conservation core developments in different parts of the world, the focus that we've got in terms of a national nature service would be transformational in terms of green skills and green jobs, and, as I've been stressing, this would be about eco-literacy across the whole workforce as well as providing a route way into jobs in nature and skills in nature.

I think one of the pieces of evidence that we're most concerned about, really, is that, particularly in the environmental sector, the diversity and equality aspect of opportunities in that sector is not good, basically. There needs to be a much more diverse workforce engaged in environmental, conservation and development work, and that will definitely be one of the core objectives of a national nature service, to ensure that an inclusive, diverse workforce is developed in terms of meeting that agenda.

I take your points. We have got a clear skills shortage, and I take your point about diversity and equality, but if you had to say one single thing that needs to be done by Welsh Government to deal with this clear green skills shortage, what would it be?

From my perspective, it would be the cross-connecting between departments on this and reducing the silo focus of funding streams and making sure that you have that cross-connectivity. One of the encouraging aspects of this process so far has been that it has generated that internal discussion across departments much more effectively, I think, than I've experienced in the past.

I don't know whether I can come in here, Chair—

If you step back a bit and you look at the climate and environment challenge, there are a number of major pillars. There's obviously, if you like, what Governments of all types can do. If you want scaling up, you've got to get the market moving in a way that actually supports the whole green agenda and recovery. The other pillar—not exclusive; there are others—is actually engagement with people; they've got to own this. One of the themes that came out of the work we did in green recovery was, actually, there are a number of ideas, including the national nature service, that were about engaging people at the ground level, but, secondly, some of the barriers and how people sometimes don't see the issue, and, if you like, the frame moves here. Yesterday, I was speaking at a seminar with landscape architects, and I was hearing a story that was done through NRW in a partnership with a council in north Wales where an allotment was being very well tended by a group of people in that local area, but it had a wire fence all around it, and, as part of the work with that community, the suggestion was made of creating a hedge, and that was a way of getting them onto the green agenda. The comment they made in the community was, 'We never thought about that. We didn't see that hedge in the context of actually what it can contribute to nature conservation and nature recovery.' So, connecting with people on the ground actually is one of the key themes that we need and are pursuing.

So, you come back to this point about barriers, and it keeps coming back to how you get people connected to the agenda. So, you need to find ways of getting them into this agenda, maybe not through the way we would see it as professionals or in our different roles, but in ways that locally connect them, and the green jobs point is a classic example of that. There are many green jobs, if you think about it, and we just need to find ways to stimulate them, and that's how Wales could actually make its own mark in the world on this whole green agenda. 

09:55

Okay, thank you for that. Before we move on to Jenny Rathbone, then, I just wanted to ask—. You've outlined a couple of the projects that are progressing and seemingly moving in the right direction. Clearly, there are some that haven't progressed, and I'm just wondering whether you could maybe outline some of the reasons for that.

Well, I'll make a start and perhaps Sarah can come in on some of the detail, if necessary. I think there are myriad reasons. One is that some of the projects, if you like, were not very well thought through. Two, there was an absence of a funding programme to go with our work, and we were opportunistic in terms of picking up some underspending that was going on inside Welsh Government that we could deal with towards the end of the financial year. The third thing—and it's one that I think is now being picked up by Steve Ormerod in the group that we've set up with the environmental non-governmental organisations—is that, actually, there sometimes can be some considerable overlap and confusion with ENGOs about what the project is, what scope they're covering, et cetera. And I come back to the main continuing theme about this—and Peter has picked it up—which is some of the silo approaches that we have in grants, in pockets that don't cross-connect. Now, in NRW, we're changing the way we deal with projects in the sense that we're now identifying the multiple gains, the multiple, if you like, outcomes across the different silos, which is enabling a bigger conversation with Welsh Government and the different parts of Welsh Government, which I think is very encouraging. 

Now, I think that's one big route for the future. Certainly, with the ENGOs—and I think Steve is with you this afternoon—one of the big issues will be to start having a bit of a grown-up conversation about, 'Can we work out how we work more closely together as ENGOs in partnership?', because sometimes you do see some conflicts in different NGOs operating in the same space.

Okay, thank you for that. That's really interesting, and I know we can pursue that with Professor Ormerod later on, I'm sure, in our session this afternoon.

Okay, we'll move on, then, and Jenny Rathbone. 

Thank you very much. You've shortened your title, blessedly, to the 'green recovery group', eliminating confusion for the public. Could you just describe to us how many of the original green recovery task and finish group have transitioned into the green recovery group? Has the membership changed? Sarah Williams doesn't appear on the original list, so presumably there's been some change.

Sarah's been key as an NRW colleague working on the green—. We were hosting, if you like, the group. We're in transition, and we are looking at the moment at the whole issue of the membership. I think it's very important—. We never saw ourselves as representative; we didn't go down that route of being a representative group, one, because there are a lot of those, and, two, our aim was actually to react, to get people who would get things done, move things forward, stimulate challenge, progress things, and that mantra stayed with us.

We are in conversation with Ministers at the moment about—and I had a meeting with the Minister Julie James a week or so ago about this—what our role is in the future, and I think we both agreed that, actually, we didn't want to be connected into the firmament of the Welsh Government architecture of groups, because that would defeat the very object of what we're trying to do here, which is stimulate, cut through. And I think she was anxious to say—[Inaudible.]—truth to power, what the barriers are here to actually making, if you like, on the ground, people get connected with this agenda. I think that's one of the big themes for us, to carry on pointing out where there are big problems here. Actually, I'll use NRW: we have reformed our grant approach now on the basis and the experience we found. We were making it far too complicated; we were asking for too much feedback and evidencing about what had been done. The cost overheads we were asking people to put on their projects in terms of auditing and all the rest of it were huge. Now, we're still doing that to protect public money and spend public money wisely, but we have eased up and we're taking some of these grant things forward in far more of a partnership approach rather than, if you like, an owner giving something to someone as a supplicant; it's more of a partnership relationship.

So, the answer to your question is we're still in transition on this. I think we'll be adding people to the group to make sure we're connected to the environment in which we're operating. Steve's group is actually helping enormously in having ENGOs working there as a group—helping us, pointing us in the right direction. So, I think I'd answer by saying, 'Watch this space'. We will adapt and change, and, I think, redefine what we think our role will be as we go forward in the coming months.

10:00

Well, I think the two groups are very different. Steve's is about working with ENGOs to listen to them, work out a programme, what their role is, and, I think, have some of those bigger and perhaps more difficult conversations amongst ENGOs. Our role has a wider remit about actually looking at the whole landscape and actually how we can make things work better, not just for the ENGOs, but for Government departments, ourselves in NRW, and other organisations that are now involved. And, indeed, the national nature service is great evidence of actually stimulating something, helping it to get a push, getting funding available, and we'll be staying alongside it as we go forward.

Okay. Just on funding, Peter Davies already mentioned the £166,000 that was announced by the Minister, Julie James, to enable you to take forward some of the projects you thought were viable. What other funding, if any, do you get?

We don't get any funding for the green recovery group per se—it doesn't exist. We were being opportunistic. We had a group of people who were seconded in to help us from Welsh Water et cetera, and we pointed people to where there might be funding routes. I have to say, I often think that, actually, we're a bit narrow focused on some of this funding. We perhaps should be looking at a wider range, particularly with the private sector, for example, who are increasingly wanting to get into this space. I've been having some really interesting conversations with the Welsh development bank about actually how you might blend grant and loan to actually stimulate change as opposed to just simply all the time relying on public sector funding, which we know is under huge pressure. And one of the things we are looking at in the current reconstituted group is bringing more of the private sector into it, through the CBI or Institute of Directors et cetera.  

Okay. All the people on the original group were all being paid for by the organisations they were fundamentally members of. So, you're not seeking to pay the people who serve on the green recovery group—this is done in a voluntary capacity, is it?

Yes, absolutely. And, in fact, the officials who worked for us—. NRW put some people in, Welsh Water, et cetera, and so they all contributed to that, if you like, office effort to make things happen.

Great. That's really clear. What discussions have you held with the Welsh Government about how you're going to stimulate adequate funding for the group? Because there's something in that Funding Centre report about mining innovative pathways to funding, which—

I think that's one of the areas we've got to look at more seriously. I see, if you like, beacons of innovation in other sectors. I'm not sure we've got a beacon of innovation in this green area in Wales in the way we should have. So, one of the things we are looking at at the moment is having some very informal conversations with universities about how we might come together and create an innovation hub for the green agenda, which would involve thinking very differently about how you go for funding, how you go into partnership et cetera, et cetera. I think that could be one way forward. There have been some very big conversations happening about the sort of things you could do, but I think we shouldn't always default to thinking that public sector funding is the first place we should go to. Actually, I think, often, in a funny sort of way, it's perhaps the last place we should go to sometimes.

I wouldn't disagree with you there. Obviously, there are a lot of corporates who would like to contribute to the green agenda, or appear to be contributing to the green agenda. Is this something you're actively pursuing?

Yes. As I said, we've had some early conversations with the CBI and we had support from the private sector in various forms through the delivery mechanism. We're going to progress those, and that will mean, I suspect, getting into a more detailed conversation with individual companies to see how they might actually support the work we're trying to do. Peter might have a perspective on this that I think is very important, because it's from his area of the business.

Pete Perry, as chief executive of Welsh Water, has been on the group, and he chairs Business in the Community, so there's a strong link into the work of Business in the Community as a key agency in Wales for engaging business on the green agenda. But, certainly, as far as the national nature service is concerned, the involvement of the private sector will be important, because we want to make sure that those skills that we're developing are relevant to the needs of the private sector and that the private sector recognises the role of the national nature service in building employability, skills and confidence for employment for the future. So, engagement with the private sector will be important in the national nature service. 

10:05

Thank you. Do you see the group as a permanent fixture and part of the landscape now, or is it being considered as something that will probably exist for a few years and then this new way of working and this culture of people pulling in the same direction will be embedded?

From my own perspective, I wouldn't want to say it's going to be there forever; it's as long as it adds value, frankly. I think the point I made earlier about not being part of that formal architecture of Welsh Government is a really important point—that actually, to fulfil our role properly, we should in one way be outside that architecture and actually be a group that stands alone. How long we carry on for, I don't know—as long as, I hope, we're adding value and making things happen. 

Okay. That's clear enough, and that makes perfect sense, as far as I'm concerned. Excellent. Thank you so much. We'll move on now to Huw. 

Thanks, Chair. I wonder if we can turn to the enabling the environment sector—EES—group. If you could tell us a little bit about the evolving remit of that group, how you see that developing and how it's fulfilling its remit. 

Perhaps I can ask Sarah to come in on this one. I've talked a little bit too much, I think, so far. 

Thank you, Sir David; thank you, Huw. As Sir David has already indicated, Steve Ormerod chairs that group. It has been running since March. We've got Wales Environment Link representatives there, we've got a combination of big and small environment organisations. The focus has been very much on taking forward the recommendations of the Funding Centre report from December 2020. We've also got on the group funders. We've got Welsh Government and the National Lottery heritage and community funds. So, we've got those there as well, and a WCVA funding expert as well.

The focus is very much on understanding where the sector currently is and where they want to go to. There's been a lot of work over the last six weeks or so in building an understanding of the work plan for the group. There has been a series of workshops. There'll be a focus on understanding, getting greater clarity on what we mean or what is meant by the term 'core funding', what does core funding actually enable third sector environment sector groups to fulfil. We've seen a shift in Welsh Government funding over the course of the last couple of years, from annual grant programmes to a multi-year approach, and there is a clear welcome from the sector for that. But there is still real concern about the funding of their core activities. But, there is a multiplicity of views on what core funding actually means, so the group has committed to really exploring that in a great deal of detail. 

There is then recognising what the sector can do more broadly. They do a lot of really positive stuff about lobbying, but they also build real connections with communities and with people in those communities. They also deliver practical stuff on the ground. So, we need to recognise that, across the whole range of environment sector organisations in Wales, their emphasis is in different spaces. Some of them are very deeply technical, around a specific set of habitats or species, whereas some of them take a broader role. So, it's recognising that and then building some of the connections and recognising their strengths and, when they're putting in proposals to funding bodies, that they build more collaborative projects, like the 'Natur am Byth!' programme that they are working on collaboratively at the moment through the National Lottery heritage fund.

So, they're looking at that, building a more consistent communication narrative that's there as a central tenet for everybody, looking at identifying barriers and the link there, as Sir David has said, and then understanding what the broader funding opportunities actually are. There's been quite a lot of work in WWF that you might hear about this afternoon around bringing in the private sector and innovative funding. They've been working together with Welsh Government to build an understanding of that opportunity as well. 

10:10

Sarah, that's really helpful; you've covered a lot of ground in that. If I could just pick up on a couple of areas, because colleagues might want to go into other specifics. On the core funding, the discussions that are currently going on, looking at what that means, interpretations of it, do we have an idea of when we might see some outcomes of that exploration of what core funding means?  

I think it's a priority for the group, and I think we'll have something—. I sit on the group, I don't drive the group, so you may want to ask Steve that question. But, I would suggest that the ambition is to work that through over the summer to have something clearer by the early part of September or October time. 

That's really helpful. And just one other question from me. Coming back to the remit, some of the evidence that we've heard from RSPB Cymru, for example, is that this group shouldn't only be focused on resilience per se, but actually having that capacity and resource to tackle the nature and climate emergency. So, it's not simply a survivability resilience thing; it's a resilience to do stuff and to tackle those big policy things. Again, I can't put words in your mouth for Steve Ormerod, but would your understanding be that that is exactly what this group is seeking to do, to give it that quantum of resilience that will allow the sector to do the things it wants it to do? 

Absolutely. We're facing a climate and nature emergency; everybody's got to play their part. These organisations have got great depths of understanding and technical expertise. We need them to be able to step into that space to really help us all—and that's us in NRW, in Welsh Government and in other places—to actually actively engage with people, with communities, because they're really good at that, and take forward some of the technical work as well. We want to do nature recovery. They need to be there ready to step up and take it forward with us, really. 

If I may add to that, Chair, that is a core point there—that, actually, we've got a huge resource, potentially, here, in terms of the ENGOs and all those who support them. And in NRW's example, we talk about now instead of us as NRW having to do it all, we should actually get others to help us do the lifting. So, when we talk about water quality, we talk about involving all the stakeholders around a particular catchment to help us improve the water quality, rather than just relying on a methodology that is NRW inspecting, and then warning notices and prosecutions. And the same is true of nature recovery and restoration. We should engage and use these ENGOs in helping, if you like, do the lifting. That means moving away from funding as a funder to a supplicant, and moving more to a partnership model that, actually, is about shared outcomes. I think that's crucially important in the way we go forward. 

Sorry, Chair, just one short supplementary on that, because Sir David Henshaw raises a really important point. It just strikes me, Sir David, this far down the line on something like water quality and using catchment management approaches, quite why we haven't got there yet. It still surprises me, a decade or more down the line, why this partnership around catchments—and we could apply it to other areas of nature recovery as well—just why we haven't done it. 

To be fair, we haven't just started it now; we have been doing it for about two or three years now—we've been getting into those conversations. But, I think it's a function of many things. It's a function of actually how we see regulation. We've got a group at the moment with the chairs of the two water companies, myself and the chair of Ofwat working together very closely on a plan on a whole series of issues. One core plank of that plan is public engagement, and, actually, a campaign to get people to stop putting things into the system that actually create the problem, because everybody assumes that NRW can sort it out, or the water companies can sort it out—sorry, the public have got a big role to play here in not putting the stuff into the system. I think partnership working like this, in some areas, on this nature and environment agenda, is a bit late into the game actually, frankly. I look at other things in my previous career, where partnership was a modus operandi from many years ago. This is perhaps a later development, and it needs to be accelerated. 

10:15

Thank you. I agree with you about partnership, and I'm as frustrated as you about water quality, because I've been, for 15 years, trying to highlight that we need to do something about it. But partnership has to be an equal recognition of what the other is bringing to the table. So, my question is on that equality of your voice around the table, and my observation, from the time that I've been in politics, which is a long time, that the non-governmental organisations haven't always been treated as equal partners, but more like a nuisance in the room, niggling away, reminding Government and other public bodies, and private bodies in some cases, of their duty. So, are you telling me now, and I hope you are, that all voices in that partnership are equal?

Well, I hope by what we've done and the way the group has worked from the start—. I mean, the ENGO grouping was a crucial bit of the firmament when we set the green recovery group up. And, absolutely, equal voices listened to, et cetera. I think we sometimes confuse recognition as equal partnership, meaning that you should be represented. That isn't necessarily the same thing. Actually, it's about what's the best vehicle, what's the best, if you like, fit for getting something done. And so I can do nothing but agree with you in terms of listening. I look at NRW—since my time there, we have changed dramatically in terms of our consultation with the public, for example, on flood schemes. We now have a completely different playbook, which is about consultation, listening to the public. Equally, we've changed our approach. We don't go in with a solution; we listen, and listen to nature-based solutions that are being articulated by members of the public in those areas. So, listening to the people, listening to the stakeholders, listening to the ENGOs, is a crucial part of your weaponry now; it has to be.

Yes, I couldn't let it go without coming in, as chair of the WCVA, because, absolutely, I would agree with the point about the role of the voluntary and community sector and the third sector, and the way in which that is often viewed. I think we have seen it change, though. I think the pandemic saw a significant change in terms of the critical role that the sector played in response to the pandemic, and the partnership with the public and private sector that was developed through the response to the pandemic. And I think what is now key is that that change is hardwired back into the system and the engagement of the community and voluntary sector is part of how the public sector operates. It is in some areas, and it's very good in some areas in terms of public sector engagement with the voluntary sector. In others, there's still a lot we've got to do, and that's obviously at the heart of the WCVA's work. 

I would also say, just going back on a couple of points that Sir David made, that there is a responsibility in the sector itself, particularly as we can be as siloed as Government in terms of how the voluntary sector works as a sector. So, it's really important that the environmental NGO sector is engaged across the voluntary sector in terms of working with community groups and different interest groups, so that there is a more integrated approach. We're fortunate in Wales—we've got the third sector partnership council structure that is about making sure that we have that connectivity across the sector and with Government, but we've got to make sure that that works, because we can be pretty siloed in terms of how the sector itself operates. 

Thank you, Peter. I think that's an important and fair point. I was going to ask whether, objectively, you think that the sector is now more stable and resilient, or at least showing those signs, given the work that's been happening, but, clearly, I suppose it's unfair, given that COVID has moved the goalposts, I imagine. 

Peter might be best placed to first answer this question, I think, Chair. 

10:20

Yes. It's an unfair question as well, in fairness. But, Peter, I don't know if you want to just give us your take.

Yes, I think, for the sector, we're undoubtedly facing a significant change in terms of the European funding, which the sector benefited from significantly. There is definitely going to be a gap, which is going to impact upon the sector, and probably particularly on the role of the sector in supporting employability areas, which was a significant area of investment from those European funds that WCVA was able to channel into supporting the sector in working with those people furthest away from the labour market. So, there's no question that that, the issue around the transition from European funding into new systems of funding, and new systems of funding that are directed through local authorities—. And that goes back to my previous point; some local authorities are good in that engagement to make sure that that funding is directed in a way that meets community needs and the community is involved with, others probably are less able to do that, partly because of resources, partly because of the timetable they have to respond to under the new funding regime. So, actually, if you take the view across the sector as a whole, not just the ENGO sector, there is definitely a concern around funding transition over this period in terms of public sector funding going into the sector.

But would that primarily relate to project funding, as opposed to core funding? Because, from my previous experience, European money and those kinds of funds wouldn't fund core funding, so you've still got that fundamental problem of securing the core funding. So, who is there, other than Welsh Government, I suppose, left to fill that gap?

Although that, again, misinterprets—. Well, not misinterprets, but the way in which the sector works generally is through projects, which then contribute to core funding.

So, if I look simply at WCVA, some of our core funding has come from our management of European funding, and so over this next 12 months we will lose some staff because of the fact that we will be losing that element of funding that was contributing to our core costs through the management of projects, and that would be the same for organisations across the sector.

Okay. Okay, thank you so much for that. Right. We'll move on, then. Oh, Huw, yes, go on then.

Yes, apologies, Chair. Peter, can I just come back to that phrase you used of new sources of funding? I wonder if you can elaborate on that just a little bit, and I wonder if you could just explain whether that includes some areas of funding that traditionally have been difficult to access, including things that might come through regional partnerships, through health board funding, et cetera, et cetera. It's always been a problem for third sector members to not simply have a seat but, as Sir David said earlier on, have a strong voice at that strategic level of regional funding. Is the work that's going on—? Are you anticipating getting more into that framework of funding as well? And, frankly, are you going to be listened to?

You definitely highlight another area of concern, and this is sector wide, not just the ENGO sector, in the sense that, when funding becomes regionalised then the sector is again disadvantaged in being able to access that funding, quite often, and not well structured in being able to secure the roots into funding from those sources. Yes, we have a great network of county voluntary councils around Wales, but, if you talk to a lot of their chief executives, a lot of their time is spent trying to represent the sector at a range of different levels to secure different funding streams. So, the importance of making funding accessible to local communities is really critical, and it's quite often not about large funding pots; it's about making sure that there are smaller funding pots available for local communities to do what they need to do. So, we have to structure ourselves in order to secure that partnership arrangement, and it's a point I'm going to be making to the partnership council, chaired by the Minister, next week—that we have to make sure that the voluntary sector is part of that structure.

If I can add to that, if you step back, and picking Peter's theme up, one of the critical areas here is looking at the public services boards, where actually what you need is some coherence with the ENGO sector to be able to sit there at the table, rather than three rows back, and actually be a full partner in working out methodologies that you can actually put funding behind local activity on—[Inaudible.]—you've got to mobilise the community, mobilise the—[Inaudible.]—as well as big work by Government and also scaling up the private sector example. And I think, at the moment, we've some work to do in that latter regard, in terms of getting the ENGOs, as Peter says, sitting at that table, at the front row, but with a coherent voice and a coherent plan, and being recognised as that they can deliver. At the moment, it's very, very fragmented, I think, at a PSB level, as Peter indicated. I think we need to look—. We need to build some new models here, and get away from perhaps some of the traditional models of funding that we're talking about.

10:25

Sorry, Chair, I don't want to labour this, because I know we're up against time, but, when you say there's work to be done, does that imply we are in the foothills of doing this? Because the public services boards and others are up and running, they are dominated by key players, understandably, in the set up of them originally. How far off are we from getting that strong voice that is part of the partnership on those boards, as opposed to tier No. 3, sitting in the back of the room?

Well, they vary, where they are at the moment, where they are in terms of development and maturity. My point is that, actually, if you simply rely on the existing methodologies around funding—and Peter's made the point very powerfully about how that whole funding structure has changed; I've made the point about getting others to help do the lifting, and, both from agencies like NRW, local government, we have to rethink how we do this. And at the moment—Peter made the point about chief executives, at that local level, of voluntary sector organisations—we need to rethink this. And I think we are, in some areas, in the foothills. But there are some good examples of where it's really worked very well, and so you learn. That's the point.

So, if I just take the case of Pembrokeshire here, the chief exec of the voluntary services council has been the deputy chair of the PSB, so has been really significantly engaged in the structure. And I think Pembrokeshire actually holds itself up as a pretty good example in terms of engagement in that way. But one point I would want to make, though: we've got to learn from the pandemic. It was about very localised responses. It wasn't about a regional response; it was about very localised responses. And I worry slightly that everything is being pulled to a regional level, which will not support the very localised response. It is critical that we focus on enabling the localised response and the localised action. And that's one lesson—the key lesson, from the pandemic, in my respect—that we must take on board.

Okay. Lovely. Thank you for that message. Right, Janet.

Thank you. Just pursuing this a little bit further, the one thing that I was very heartened about when I became a Member of the Senedd was the number of voluntary bodies and ENGOs working in Wales. And I know, certainly in the environment and climate and nature emergency that's facing us, just to name three, the RSPB, Wales Environment Link and the Marine Conservation Society—they're just three that I'm just going to mention there—these are people who engage with us as Members, they really care about what they're doing, but, quite often, when meeting with them—and they really hold Government to account—there is a lack of environmental governance in Wales. We're falling behind Northern Ireland, Scotland and England now in terms of legislation, putting into law how we want to bring protections in for our environment, the climate and nature recovery. So, in terms of the ENGOs, just today now we're talking about, you know, the IEPAW and green recovery, and a national nature service for Wales—to me, those are a lot of groups there that do a lot—. With all due respect, we're trying to find a solution, where the solution—. We've already put the solution in place; we've got these groups working very busily away. But they are underfunded. And so how do you think, or do you think, that the Welsh Government should actually be listening more to our ENGOs, working more closely with them, and all these other bodies that set up? And certainly, how engaged do you think the Welsh Government are in terms of actually funding these organisations and groups to do what they want to do, and that is they actually want to get on with doing this? They write up many policy documents, we get lots of briefings, but I do feel that—I think it goes back to Joyce's point—they're largely ignored. 

10:30

I wouldn't agree with the comment about 'ignored' at all. From the point of view of the green recovery group's work, they have been central to listening to what's actually happening out there in the ENGO sector, being responsive to it, and actually out of that came some support funding during the pandemic. I do think, though, and it goes back to one of my earlier points, that actually we've got to provide a different frame here and actually move away from what, often, are quite often complicated grant structures that actually hinder the progress you're talking about. And to just speak to Peter's point, there is a responsibility on the ENGOs here as well, because there can be elements of competition between some of these ENGOs for survival and so looking for grant. So, it's getting more coherence, and it's going to be, considering the group that Steve's chairing, trying to find a more, if you like, aligned way of approaching some of these agenda items, which are big items, as we move forward.

But the biggest thing, and I think we can contribute—. One of the biggest things we can contribute in the green recovery group is to say, 'We really have to change the nature of the relationships.' Applying for the grant and having to go through numerous, numerous hoops, and I think, through no fault of anybody's, it's just the nature of the way public money sometimes is viewed and actually protected. We perhaps put in—and NRW is as guilty of this as many of us—over-elaborate mechanisms to actually try and make sure everything is done properly, and we have to look at that, constantly look at it, constantly adapt and see people more as partners, not people who will perhaps be intent on ill-doing. There is always going to be a bit of that. It happens in life, doesn't it? But, generally, we have to think about it more progressively. And if you build structures to actually manage partnership and promote partnership, if something goes wrong, you're bound together. Rather than reaching for the lawyers, you're bound together in solving the problem.

Thank you. I think the point you made earlier, Sir David, about easing off a little bit around the bureaucracy and the administration around the some of the funding is to be welcomed, obviously without compromising the integrity of the use of public funding. I think it is a message that we've been hearing over the years, and anything that could be done to ease off somewhat on that in a responsible way would obviously be welcome. Okay. Thank you. We'll move on to Delyth, then. Delyth Jewell.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. One of the themes that's coming up throughout this session is the importance of making connections and the need to publicise the really great work that's being done to make sure that those connections are made. Sir David, you made the point earlier on a microcosmic level about that community where they decided, instead of using a wire fence, they'd use a hedge. Looking at how that can be replicated far, far, far more widely, could you talk us through, please—again, I appreciate that this has come up time and again throughout this session—what actions are being put in to publicise and communicate green recovery project development, with partners across the sector but also with the public?

Well, I think the report makes clear that we could have done better here, but this was a pandemic. We were all scrambling around, and the green recovery group was set up, if you like, to stimulate and keep the green flag flying, as we call it. We spent an awful lot of time trying to make stuff happen. I think we could have been better at communicating what we were doing and, actually, how we were trying. But, candidly, I think, where resources were available, you did what you could do.

I think, going forward, that point about, 'Always follow somebody's example; don't worry about making it up yourself', is actually how innovation happens, and I think we've got to put more work into that, no question about it. And that just isn't in the green recovery group; it's in the whole sector, really, about learning. We need to be more accepting of, actually, 'Oh, there's one over there—I'll improve on that,' et cetera, et cetera. One of my own passions around this is innovation, and I do think, particularly when you talk about funding, that if we can connect some projects with individual companies, for example, who survive on innovation and actually building business, you might see different methodologies coming out about how you use transformative work like this and spread it around. We've all got a role to play in this, but I openly accept we could have done more about this as we went along. But we are where we are. What did happen was that—and I keep going back to this core point—the projects we discovered when we went out on this very unorganised call for schemes just show you the scale of ideas that are available in Wales that people wanted to get hold of. The barriers they were facing was one of the biggest problems, but the scale of ideas was extraordinary.

10:35

Cadeirydd, if I could come back in—if that's okay, Delyth?

I wanted to get this into the session at some point, and this may be a good point to get it into the session, which is the work that we've done on blue recovery. The Wales marine action and advisory group—a horrible title, WMAAG—has taken us on a sort of blue recovery lead linked to the green recovery process, and I just wanted to make the point that one of the priorities there that we see is the fact that the engagement of communities with the marine environment is so poor, and we really have to work hard to build the capacity and invest in the capacity of coastal communities to own more of the marine conservation and development issues, and that's a really key theme for the blue recovery focus around how we engage communities around the coast, increase the ownership of communities around the coast of their marine environment. It's all too complicated with a whole range of different initiatives or acronyms about different aspects of coastal and marine conservation. We need to make that much more accessible and owned by coastal communities, and that has to be a real priority for the marine environment.

Thank you for that. Okay, yes, there's still a lot of work to do, but that answer means that there is a real opportunity as well. We've heard, as a committee, time and again that anything to do with marine, the tendency would be, 'Oh, it's out of sight, out of mind'; because people can't see it, people just won't feel that connection. But, gosh, it's still so important that those connections are made. So, I appreciate what you both said there. Thank you.

Okay. We're nearing the end of our session now, but I have Joyce to come in, and I think Jenny has also asked to come in before we finish. Joyce first of all.

I'm not going to labour it, but I'm really glad to hear that we've got blue recovery—or a 'teal recovery' I call it—marrying up the two together. I'm not going to labour that. What I'm going to say is that the review did find that the green recovery work undertaken was imperfect yet invaluable, and I suppose that's what we've been saying throughout this morning. So, what are the next steps in developing the green and just recovery model?

If I start, I think, as I tried to stay at the start, we're in the midst of a bit of a scrum down at the moment to work out where we go next. I had a very encouraging conversation with the Minister about where she saw us adding most value. We've now one meeting of the group to talk that through, having another meeting to put forward the propositions as we fine it down. We don't want to become part of the overall architecture of Government; we should be outside of all that, stimulating, promoting, speaking the truth, et cetera, et cetera. So, I know we're in that space.

I think on the 'just' stuff, we've covered it in some ways in respect of the job opportunities and the training and the rest of it. The point Peter made is that it isn't, actually, necessarily an enduring experience in the green agenda, meaning you have to stay in that sector; it's actually building confidence, and we've seen a lot of examples in the projects we saw coming forward where that theme could be followed.

The skills issue is a really big issue. I've had conversations with the commissioner for future generations, and that whole skills agenda and actually how we're organised on that and how we need to get more focused on that, particularly around the green agenda, is a big issue. So, I can see our agenda emerging.

Perhaps it might be helpful for you if, when we've got this a bit more nailed down, in, say, six months, we come back and tell you about where we're up to and what we're doing, and actually how we're approaching it and when we've got more of a plan in our minds. But that's where we are at the moment, and the various sessions have been helpful to hear your views about where we should be.

Are we also recognising the skills that are already on the ground, because I think a lot of those skills were never packaged as green skills; they were just things that people did, and there are an awful lot of them out there? I cover most of, as you well know, the rural parts of Wales and the coastal parts of Wales, where people did things rather than packaging them in a certain way. So, are we looking at that as well? And building on that knowledge, we talk about lost skills, don't we? And if we look at the lost skills, they're mostly, I would argue, in the environmental sector—the way things were done. And we're actually trying to go back somewhat to the way things were done, but with an added twist, and quite rightly, of innovation, so that we can take what is there, but move it forward.

10:40

Again, we could open up another two-hour conversation here, I think, on this. One example we haven't touched on is the Wales coastal path, which was a major scheme that came through, where, actually, there was thinking about the coastal path perhaps in a different way. So, we talked about, for example, making it more accessible, we talked about greening it, we talked about giving grants to help those who provide accommodation, plug-in for electric cars—a whole set of issues—and also including trails for visiting chapels. And now, I think, in Pembrokeshire, particularly—Peter may know more about this—we've actually got a programme there about involving chapel pilgrimages alongside the coastal path walking as well. So, there's a whole set of issues here. But, as I said, perhaps we can come back in six months and tell you more about where we're up to.

Yes, indeed. Yes, we're keen as a committee to be revisiting the work that you do on a regular basis. Jenny, you want to conclude this session.

I just wanted to come in on the just recovery model aspect of this, because Coed Cadw mentions that, in the interim environmental protection assessor's report, there's no discussion of social justice. And given that it's the poorer members of the community who fund the lottery, I just wondered what discussions your group has had on how we ensure that the poorest part of the community is going to be having a greener environment. 

I can assure you that the issue of social justice has been, actually, always on our agenda. A couple of members always make sure it's picked up on, and I tried to refer to it on the skills issue. But perhaps Sarah can talk in more detail about some of the projects that came forward on that. Sarah.

I was hoping she was there in the background, but maybe not.

Not visible. Okay. Right, we'll have to skip over that, then, I'm afraid.

Anyway, I can assure you that—

Sarah, as if by magic, did appear. Okay, Sarah. Sorry.

Thank you. I'm in Plas Tan y Bwlch today for a workshop, which is great, but the Wi-Fi drops, so I'm running around—

—but now I'm back. So, I'm really sorry, I missed a chunk of time.

Social justice, as Sir David has said, is at the heart of the approach of the group. So, when we had the call for good ideas, it was very clearly part of the requirements of people, and when we assessed the proposals that came in, looking at those proposals through the lens of social justice was really important. For those original 168 proposals, there were some that had a social justice perspective. I think, though, given the time that we asked for those proposals, they weren't as strong as they could have been. The environment sector recognises that thinking about social justice, and thinking about how the most deprived communities more often than not also have the most deprived environments, and how we need to go in and work with those communities in a different way to work through those opportunities, has to be on the agenda, moving forward. And we need, through the grant funding that Welsh Government provided—. There was a specific grant in January 2021, and a number of them, including WEL, had some specific training and focus on social justice and how the sector can engage with that agenda. So, I think we all need to move into that space and think about the environment through the lens of social justice. And I don't mean this in a derogatory way, but it's not just about giving people a park; it is really fundamentally thinking about social justice and environmental justice. Very often, those communities have the most deprived environments as well, and how we address that and engage with those communities is vital, really, not just for the environment sector, but it's equally important for NRW as well.

Thank you for that reassurance, and we look forward to hearing more about it.

Indeed, and I think there's a whole other session for us there, isn't there, potentially. But we will have to leave it there, because we have come to the end of our allocated time. So, can I say thank you to Sarah, to Peter and to Sir David for joining us this morning and, as always, giving us valuable evidence for us to take on board as part of our deliberations? We look forward, of course, to revisiting some of these themes later on today when we will be discussing this with some of the environmental non-governmental organisations. But with that, can I thank you for your presence and can I, therefore, announce that we will now break for 15 minutes, and ask Members to reconvene slightly before 11 o'clock, when we will, again, be going live as a committee? Diolch yn fawr iawn. Thank you.

10:45

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:45 ac 11:00.

The meeting adjourned between 10:45 and 11:00.

11:00
3. Trefniadau llywodraethu amgylcheddol interim
3. Interim environmental governance arrangements

Croeso nôl i'r pwyllgor. Rŷn ni'n symud ymlaen at ein eitem nesaf ni ar yr agenda, lle y byddwn ni yn ystyried trefniadau llywodraethau amgylcheddol interim Cymru, ac yn canolbwyntio'n bennaf ar adroddiad blynyddol cyntaf yr asesydd interim diogelu'r amgylchedd. Gaf i felly groesawu yr asesydd interim, Dr Nerys Llewelyn Jones? Croeso atom ni. A gaf i eich gwahodd chi, efallai, i wneud cwpl o sylwadau agoriadol cyn inni symud i gwestiynau?

Welcome back to the committee. We move on to our next item on the agenda, where we'll be considering interim environmental governance arrangements for Wales and concentrating on the inaugural annual report of the interim environmental protection assessor. May I therefore welcome the interim assessor, Dr Nerys Llewelyn Jones? May I invite you to say a few opening remarks before we move to questions?

Diolch yn fawr. Yn gyntaf oll, diolch yn fawr iawn am y gwahoddiad i ddod i siarad â chi yn y sesiwn yma heddiw, a'r cyfle i siarad â chi am y flwyddyn gyntaf fel asesydd interim diogelu'r amgylchedd yng Nghymru—AIDAC. Fel y gŵyr y pwyllgor, cafwyd rôl yr asesydd interim ei chreu er mwyn llenwi rhai o'r bylchau llywodraethol a gafodd eu creu gan y Deyrnas Unedig yn gadael yr Undeb Ewropeaidd. Er enghraifft, fel canlyniad o adael yr Undeb Ewropeaidd, does yna ddim corff goruchwylio annibynnol yng Nghymru sydd yn gyfrifol am oruchwylio gweithrediad cyfraith amgylcheddol, neu'r cydymffurfiad â'r gyfraith honno, gan gyrff cyhoeddus.

Fy rôl i yw ystyried pryderon yn ymwneud â gweithrediad cyfraith amgylcheddol yng Nghymru ac i greu adroddiadau ac argymhellion i'r Gweinidogion. Gall gweithrediad y gyfraith amgylcheddol feddwl ystyried os yw'r gyfraith yn dal i gyrraedd ei hamcanion gwreiddiol neu rai sydd yn awr yn berthnasol, p'un ai bod y wybodaeth neu'r dogfennau esbonio hefyd am y gyfraith yn hygyrch, neu p'un ai bod gweithrediad ymarferol o'r gyfraith yn cael ei rwystro mewn unrhyw ffordd. Wrth gwrs, heb y ddeddfwriaeth hanfodol i greu corff mwy sylweddol, dim ond hyn a hyn y gallwn ni ei wneud, ac nid ydyw'r trefniadau presennol yn cyfateb â beth oedd yna gynt. Yn benodol, dydy'r AIDAC ddim yn gallu ystyried cwynion am dorri cyfraith amgylcheddol, a gallwn ni ddim chwaith cymryd camau gorfodol yn ymwneud â nhw. Er hynny, mae'r AIDAC ddim ond wedi cael ei sefydlu fel mesur interim, ac mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi ymroi i greu deddfwriaeth i sefydlu goruchwyliaeth amgylcheddol barhaol yng Nghymru.

Mae fy mlwyddyn gyntaf wedi bod yn canolbwyntio ar sefydlu'r corff interim newydd yma, ac yn sicrhau bod prosesau cywir yn eu lle er mwyn parhau â gwneud y swyddogaethau sydd gen i. Mae hyn yn broses ailadroddus. Rydym yn ceisio darganfod sut gall y prosesau yma cael eu gwella a'u cryfhau yn gyson. Mi fyddwch yn gweld o'r adroddiad blynyddol fod yna ddiddordeb sylweddol wedi bod yn yr AIDAC yn ystod y flwyddyn gyntaf, gyda dros 20 o geisiadau wedi'u derbyn i gyd yn ystod y cyfnod hynny. Mae'n nodedig hefyd bod cyfran uchel iawn o'r ceisiadau yma wedi dod i mewn o fewn cyfnod byr o amser. Ym mis Tachwedd a mis Rhagfyr y llynedd, daeth 15 cais mewn o fewn deufis, a dydyn ni ddim yn siŵr iawn beth oedd y tu ôl i'r codiad yna yn y ceisiadau, ond mae'n bosib efallai taw sefydliad Swyddfa Amddiffyn yr Amgylchedd yn Lloegr a Gogledd Iwerddon, yr OEP, a Safonau Amgylched yr Alban, yr ESS, efallai, sydd wedi bod yn sbardun i hyn. A hefyd, wrth gwrs, roedd cyd-destun ehangach a ddarparwyd gan COP26 oedd yn digwydd yn ystod y cyfnod hwn yn golygu bod materion amgylcheddol efallai ar flaen meddyliau pobl.

Corff bach ydyn ni, gydag adnoddau cyfyngedig, a dwi'n credu ei bod hi'n bwysig i bwysleisio hwnna, yn enwedig wrth inni gymharu, efallai, gyda beth mae cyrff goruchwylio fel yr OEP a'r ESS yn ei wneud. Er hynny, rwy'n bles iawn â beth dŷn ni wedi llwyddo i wneud ac i gwblhau dros y flwyddyn ddiwethaf. Yn nhermau adroddiadau, rydw i ar hyn o bryd yn cwblhau fy adroddiad cyntaf i'r Gweinidogion. Mae'r adroddiad yna'n ymwneud â mater coedwigaeth, a dwi'n gobeithio y byddaf i'n gallu cynhyrchu a chyhoeddi'r adroddiad yna yn y dyfodol agos.

Wrth edrych ymlaen, mae gennym ni amserlen brysur iawn o'n blaenau hefyd, ac ar ôl i'r adroddiad cyntaf gael ei gwblhau, dwi'n anelu i droi fy sylw at sancsiynau sifil yn y gyfraith amgylcheddol, gyda'r bwriad o greu adroddiad ar y mater yma i'r Gweinidogion. Bwriad mwyaf y gwaith yw canfod a oes gan reoleiddwyr yng Nghymru fynediad at yr holl adnoddau sydd angen arnynt er mwyn sicrhau cydymffurfiad â'r gyfraith, ac er mwyn sicrhau diogelu'r amgylchedd. Mae nifer o'r ceisiadau wedi mynd yn ofidus amboutu'r ochr yma o gydymffurfio, ac mae hyn yn un opsiwn i gonsidro ac i edrych arno.

Yn ail hanner y flwyddyn hefyd, y bwriad yw troi ein sylw at safon dŵr, sydd yn fater rydyn ni wedi derbyn llawer iawn o geisiadau arni. Rwyf wedi bod yn dilyn gwaith allweddol y pwyllgor yma gyda'r diddordeb mwyaf hefyd, ac rwy'n ddiolchgar iawn am yr adroddiad rydych wedi ei gyhoeddi ar y pwnc. Fy nod i yw bod unrhyw ystyriaeth rwy'n ei wneud o'r mater yma yn ategu gwaith y pwyllgor ac eraill, yn hytrach nag ailadrodd y gwaith sydd yn cael ei wneud yn barod. Rydw i'n arbennig o awyddus hefyd i weld pa weithredoedd bydd y Llywodraeth a'r rheoleiddwyr yn addo i'w cymryd ymlaen dros y misoedd nesaf fel ymateb i'r adroddiad hwnnw. Bydd unrhyw rôl sydd gen i yn edrych mwy, efallai, ar y gyfraith sydd ynghlwm gyda hwnna ac os oes angen atgyfnerthu neu newid y gyfraith honno er mwyn galluogi rhai o'r gweithredoedd yna i ddigwydd.

Yn nhermau'r gwaith sydd i ddod gyda'r AIDAC hefyd, dŷn ni am gynnal trafodaeth banel yn y Sioe Frenhinol ar 21 Gorffennaf sydd yn edrych ar reoli cloddiau neu wrychoedd a'r gyfraith sydd yn ymwneud â hynny. Rŷn ni'n awyddus iawn i wneud mwy o ddigwyddiadau gyda rhanddeiliaid ac mae cyfle nawr, wrth gwrs, i wneud mwy o ddigwyddiadau wyneb yn wyneb a chael y cyfle i drafod rhai o'r pynciau yma ymhellach gyda nhw a chael adborth mwy cyson wrthyn nhw ynglŷn â gwaith yr AIDAC. Mae'n bwysig iawn bod gwaith yr AIDAC yn dryloyw ac yn agored i bawb sy'n byw yng Nghymru, a dwi'n croesawu’r trafodaethau pellach gyda rhanddeiliaid ar hynny.

Gobeithio bod hwnna'n rhoi syniad ichi o'r gwaith sydd wedi digwydd yn ystod y flwyddyn gyntaf, a dwi'n disgwyl ymlaen i glywed y cwestiynau sydd gyda chi i'w gofyn.

Thank you very much. First of all, thank you very much for the invitation to join you in this session today, and for the opportunity to discuss the first year as the interim environmental protection assessor for Wales—IEPAW. As the committee knows, the interim role was created to fill some of the governance gaps created as a result of the UK leaving the European Union. For example, as a result of leaving the EU, there is no independent oversight body in Wales responsible for overseeing the implementation of environmental law, or compliance with that law, by public bodies.

My role is to consider concerns related to the implementation of environmental law in Wales and to generate reports and recommendations for Ministers. The implementation of environmental law could mean considering whether the law is still fit for purpose or whether it is still relevant, whether the information or explanatory material on the law is accessible or whether the practical implementation of the law is prevented in any way. Of course, without the crucial legislation to create a more substantial body, there is only so much we can do, and the current arrangements don't correspond to what was there previously. Specifically, the IEPAW can't consider complaints about breaches of environmental law, and neither can we take enforcement steps in relation to that law. However, the IEPAW was only established as an interim measure, and the Welsh Government is committed to creating legislation for permanent environmental oversight in Wales.

My first year has focused on the establishment of this new interim body and ensuring that the correct processes are in place in order to carry out these functions. This is an iterative process. We are trying to discover how we can improve and strengthen these processes on an ongoing basis. You will see from the annual report that there has been great interest in the IEPAW during its first year, with over 20 submissions received in total during that period. It's also notable that a high percentage of these submissions came in within a brief period of time. In November and December, we received 15 within two months, and we're not quite sure what was behind that increase, but it is possible that the establishment of the Office for Environmental Protection in England and Northern Ireland and Environmental Standards Scotland that actually drove that. And, of course, there was the wider context of COP26, which happened during this time, which meant that environmental issues were at the forefront of people's minds.

We're a small body with limited resources, and I think it's important to emphasise that, particularly as we compare with other oversight bodies, such as the OEP and ESS. However, I am very pleased with what we've managed to do over the past 12 months. In terms of reporting, I'm currently completing my first report to Ministers, and that relates to the issue of forestry. I very much hope that I will be able to publish that report in the very near future.

In looking to the future, we have a busy timetable facing us, and once that final report is completed, I will turn my attention to civil sanctions in environmental law, with the intention of generating a report on this issue for Ministers. The main aim of the work is to discover whether regulators in Wales have access to all the resources that they need in order to ensure compliance with the law and in order to safeguard the environment. There have been many submissions in this area of compliance, and this is one option to consider and to look at.

In the second half of the year, the intention is to turn my attention to water quality, which is an issue that we've received a number of submissions on. I've been following the key work of this committee with the greatest interest too, and I'm very grateful for the report that you published on the issue. My aim is that any consideration that I make of this issue will complement the work of the committee, rather than rehearsing work already done. I'm particularly keen also to see what actions the Government and regulators will pledge to take forward over the next few months in response to that report. Any role that I have is looking more at the law related to that and whether we need to change or strengthen that law in order to allow some of those actions to happen.

In terms of future work for the IEPAW, we want to have a panel discussion at the Royal Welsh on 21 July too, which will look at hedgerow management and the law in relation to that. I'm eager to have more events with stakeholders, and there is an opportunity now to have such events face to face and to have an opportunity to discuss some of the issues further with them and to get more regular feedback from them on the work of the IEPAW. It's very important that the work of the IEPAW is transparent and open to all who live in Wales, and I welcome further discussions with stakeholders on that.

I hope that gives you a flavour of the work that's happened during our first year, and I look forward to hearing the questions that you have for me.

11:05

Bendigedig. Diolch yn fawr. Mae hwnna yn gosod cyd-destun bach neis inni ar y dechrau fel hyn. Jest cyn inni fynd at y cwestiynau mwy ffurfiol, mi gyfeirioch chi at y cynnydd a welwyd yn Nhachwedd a Rhagfyr, ac roeddwn i jest yn meddwl—. Felly, doedden nhw ddim yn rhan o ryw ymgyrch gan grŵp neu rywbeth i gysylltu â chi, mi oedden nhw'n ymholiadau amrywiol.

Excellent. Thank you very much. That gives us a great context to start with. Before we go to the more formal questions, you referred to the increase in November and December, and I was thinking—. So, it wasn't part of any sort of campaign by a group to get in touch with you, they were genuine enquiries.

O ran y ceisiadau sy'n dod i mewn, dwi ddim yn gweld pwy mae'r rheini'n dod wrthynt. Maen nhw'n dod ataf fi yn hollol anymwybodol o bwy mae'r ceisiadau hyn wedi dod wrthynt, ond roedd yr ystod eang o faterion roedden nhw'n ymwneud â nhw yn dangos doedden nhw ddim yn ymgyrch penodol; roedden nhw'n amrywiol iawn.

We don't see who the submissions are from. They come to me anonymously, but the broad range of issues that they related to demonstrated that it wasn't a specific campaign; they were very varied.

Iawn. Roedd e jest bod hwnna'n sefyll mas yn yr adroddiad. Ocê, diolch yn fawr iawn. Mi gychwynnwn ni nawr gyda Janet.

Okay. It's just it stood out in the report. We'll start now with Janet.

What is the IEPAW's—? We're still good morning, aren't we? Good morning.

What is the IEPAW's view on the suitability and effectiveness of the current interim measures?

Allaf i ei wneud e'n Gymraeg?

Could I answer in Welsh?

Ym mha bynnag iaith ŷch chi'n dewis.

In whichever language you choose.

Fel oeddwn i'n ei ddweud yn y datganiad agoriadol, yn amlwg mae'r rheoliadau interim yma yn llai grymus na beth oedd ar gael cynt. Yn amlwg, mae hwnna'n rhywbeth sydd angen rhoi mewn lle yng Nghymru, er mwyn rhoi rhywbeth mwy parhaol mewn lle.

O ran beth sydd yn digwydd ar hyn o bryd, dwi'n credu bod yr ystyriaeth sy'n cael ei wneud o sut mae cyfraith amgylcheddol yng Nghymru yn gweithio, sut mae hwnna'n gweithio'n ymarferol ac hefyd y gyfraith o ran hynny, yn beth gwerthfawr iawn. Rwy'n credu bod amddiffyn ein hamgylchedd yn hollbwysig, ac mae'n bwysig iawn ein bod ni'n adolygu'r gyfraith sydd gyda ni ar hyn o bryd ac yn edrych ar sut ŷn ni'n gallu gwella honna a gwneud yn siŵr ei bod hi dal yn addas ar gyfer y pwrpasau y cafodd hi ei rhoi mewn lle ar eu cyfer. Beth sy'n ddiddorol, rwy'n credu, amboutu rôl AIDAC yw ei fod e'n ymateb yn syth i ofynion pobl sy'n byw yng Nghymru, sydd yn gweithio gyda ac yn byw gyda'r cyfreithiau amgylcheddol yma o ddydd i ddydd, ac felly dŷn ni'n ymateb yn syth i'r gofynion a'r gofidiau sydd gyda nhw yn bersonol.

O fewn y flwyddyn gyntaf, dŷn ni wedi gorfod canolbwyntio tipyn ar y broses o dderbyn y ceisiadau hynny a delio gyda'r ceisiadau hynny. Dŷn ni yn barod wedi cyhoeddi pro forma nawr ar gyfer rhoi'r ceisiadau yna i mewn fel bod yna fwy o strwythur i'r ceisiadau sy'n dod o'n blaen ni, a hefyd mae hwnna'n golygu bod mwy o fanylder gyda ni amboutu beth yn gwmws yw'r broblem a beth yw'r cyfreithiau perthnasol sydd angen inni edrych arnynt yn fwy manwl.

Hefyd, gyda'r nifer o geisiadau rydym ni wedi eu cael, mae e wedi bod yn bwysig creu system o gwmpasu hefyd, er mwyn inni allu ystyried yn ddwys y gwahanol geisiadau sy'n dod i mewn, ac mae'r broses yna yn cymryd tipyn o amser. Dŷn ni'n troi'r rheini drosodd mewn cyfnod byr iawn. Dŷn ni'n gwneud yn siŵr ein bod ni'n mynd nôl at bob cais o fewn y cyfnod cyntaf yna achos yn rhai ohonyn nhw mae yna elfennau amserol pwysig. Mae'n rhaid gwneud yn siŵr eu bod nhw wedi cael ymateb o fewn y cyfnod yna. So, dŷn ni'n cario mas yr asesiad cwmpasu yna, ac mae hwnna, wrth gwrs, yn ein helpu ni i wedyn edrych ar efallai ble mae'r blaenoriaethu sydd angen ei wneud. Dŷn ni wedi gorfod, eto, datblygu egwyddorion blaenoriaethu oherwydd nifer y ceisiadau sydd wedi dod i mewn, ac mae hwnna hefyd wedi ein galluogi ni efallai i ganolbwyntio ein hadnoddau ar y llefydd lle mae'r galw mwyaf, neu efallai lle dŷn ni'n gallu cynnig y gwerth mwyaf.

Dŷn ni hefyd, yn ystod ein cyfnod cyntaf ni, ar fin cyhoeddi inffograffeg, achos un o'r cwestiynau ac un o'r problemau oedd yn amlwg iawn pan ddechreuais i yn y rôl oedd consérn amboutu ble roedd gwahanol faterion neu broblemau yn ymwneud â chyfraith amgylcheddol yn mynd. Pwy oedd â'r grym i ddelio â nhw? Pwy oedd y cyrff oedd i fod yn gyfrifol am ddelio â'r gwahanol agweddau? Felly beth dŷn ni wedi'i wneud yw cydweithio â'r cyrff gwahanol hynny er mwyn creu'r inffograffeg yma fel bod rhywbeth gyda ni fel yr AIDAC i roi i bobl os ydyn nhw'n dod atom ni gyda phroblemau dŷn ni ddim yn gallu delio â nhw, sydd ddim o fewn y rôl, o fewn sgôp y rôl sydd gyda fi ar hyn o bryd, ond hefyd fel eu bod nhw'n gallu gwneud yn siŵr bod y materion yna'n cael eu delio â nhw yn bwrpasol.

Felly, mae'r adnoddau sydd gyda ni yn gyfyngedig. Mae'r pwerau sydd gyda ni yn gyfyngedig hefyd, yntefe, ond dŷn ni wedi trial gwneud cymaint â dŷn ni'n gallu o fewn y cyfnod cyntaf yma, gwneud beth dŷn ni'n gallu o fewn y rheoliadau sydd gyda ni ar hyn o bryd.

As I said in my opening statement, clearly, these interim arrangements are not as powerful as what was in place previously, and clearly that's something that we need to put in place in Wales so that we have more permanent arrangements in place.

In terms of what's happening at the moment, I believe that the consideration given to how environmental law in Wales is working and how it works on a practical level is very valuable indeed. I think that safeguarding our environment is crucially important, and it's hugely important that we do review the law that we currently have, look at how we can improve that and ensure that it is still fit for the purposes that it was put in place for. What's interesting about the role of the IEPAW is that it responds immediately to the needs of people living in Wales and living under these environmental laws on a day-to-day basis, so we respond immediately to concerns that people have.

Within the first year, we've had to focus a fair bit on the process of dealing with those submissions. We've already put in place a pro forma for putting those submissions in so that there's more structure, and then there is more detail as to what exactly the problem is and what the relevant laws are that we need to look at in more detail.

Also, with the number of submissions that we've received, it's been important to create a system where we can look at this in its broader sense so we consider all the submissions that come in, and that process takes some time. We turn them over quite quickly, but we do ensure that we return to every submission within that initial period, because some of them have time-critical elements. We must ensure that they have received a response in due time. So, we carry out that assessment, and then that helps us to look at where we perhaps need to prioritise. We've had to develop prioritisation because of the number of submissions that we've received, and that has perhaps enabled us to focus our resources on the areas of greatest demand, or perhaps where we can provide greatest value.

Also, during our initial period, we're about to publish an infographic, because one of the questions and one of the problems that became apparent when I began in the role was a concern as to where different issues related to environmental law went. Who had the power to deal with certain issues? Which bodies were supposed to be responsible for dealing with the various aspects of this? So, what we've done is to collaborate with those different bodies to create that infographic so that there's something available for us as the IEPAW to give to people who come to us with problems we can't deal with, because they're not within my remit, but also so that they ensure that those issues are properly dealt with.

So, the resources that we have are limited. The powers that we have are also limited, but we've tried to do as much as we possibly can within this initial period, to do everything we can within the rules and regulations as they currently stand.

11:10

Thank you. So, what involvement has the IEPAW had on the development of a permanent governance arrangement, and what have you learnt from other countries and bodies? Can you also outline the risks associated with not having permanent governance arrangements in place for the foreseeable future? I have to say 'for the foreseeable future' because, when questioning the Minister, the responses coming back don't fill me with any confidence that there's any urgency in this. So, how have you driven that initiative forward, please?

So, mae sawl cwestiwn fanna, onid oes e, i efallai ystyried ymhellach. So, yn gyntaf oll, dwi ddim gyda'r dasg o roi'r corff parhaol mewn lle. Yn amlwg, mae hwnna'n fater i Lywodraeth Cymru. Beth dwi yn gallu ei wneud, er hynny, yw rhoi adborth ar y broses a beth sydd wedi bod yn digwydd yn ystod y 18 mis diwethaf, a dwi'n disgwyl ymlaen yn fawr at wneud hynny gyda Llywodraeth Cymru er mwyn iddyn nhw gael dysgu, efallai, o'r profiad dwi wedi'i gael dros y 18 mis diwethaf yn nhermau helpu, efallai, i ddatblygu'r corff mwy parhaol fydd gennym ni.

Dwi yn cyfarfod yn gyson iawn gyda'r Office for Environmental Protection ac Environmental Standards Scotland. Mae'r cyfarfodydd yna wedi bod yn ddefnyddiol iawn yn ystod y cyfnod o sefydlu, yn helpu gyda'r prosesau dŷn ni wedi rhoi yn eu lle, hefyd argaeledd arbenigwyr sydd eu hangen arnom ni ar gyfer edrych ar wahanol faterion a hefyd blaenoriaethu, ac edrych hefyd ar faterion efallai sydd yn berthnasol i ni i gyd edrych arno, achos, wrth gwrs, dyw amgylchedd ddim yn gweld dim un ffin. Mae'r cyfarfodydd yna wedi bod yn gadarnhaol. Maen nhw wedi bod yn rhai agored, tryloyw iawn, a dwi'n credu bod y cyfle i wneud hynny wedi bod yn ddefnyddiol iawn i fi yn nhermau'r rôl yma yn ystod y 18 mis diwethaf, ond hefyd dwi'n credu bod y profiad sydd gan y cyrff hynny sydd wedi bod yn sefydlu dros y 18 mis diwethaf, fod y profiad sydd ganddyn nhw, hefyd yn mynd i fod o werth ac yn adnodd hefyd i Lywodraeth Cymru wrth iddyn nhw roi deddfwriaeth mewn lle ar gyfer corff parhaol i ni yng Nghymru.

O ran risg, mae'n anodd iawn i drafod hwnna mewn manylder, am beth yw'r risg. Yn amlwg, mae yna achosion wedi dod at fy sylw i sydd wedi bod allan o'n sgôp i ddelio â nhw. So, mae yna ryw chwech mater wedi dod at fy sylw i a oedd yn edrych ar dorri cyfraith amgylcheddol neu'r posibilrwydd fod yna dorcyfraith wedi bod. Yn amlwg, dyw hynny ddim o fewn sgôp fy rôl i ar hyn o bryd, a byddai hynna efallai wedi bod yn rhywbeth fyddai wedi bod yn sgôp y trefniant oedd gyda ni cyn hynny. Ond does dim byd i gadarnhau y byddai'r rheini wedi bod yn achosion y byddai wedi cael eu dwyn ymlaen chwaith ac a fyddai wedi mynd i fod yn achosion byddai yna adroddiadau neu argymhellion pellach wedi cael eu gwneud arnyn nhw. Dwi ond yn gallu ystyried beth sydd wedi dod o'm mlaen i ac sydd o fewn y sgôp sydd gyda fi.

O ran ffactorau hefyd, dŷn ni yn edrych ar risg fel un o'r ffactorau dŷn ni'n eu hystyried wrth flaenoriaethu materion. So, yn nhermau pethau sydd o fewn fy sgôp i i ddelio â nhw, mae risg yn un o'r pethau dŷn ni yn crybwyll ac yn edrych arno yn fanwl—beth yw'r risg o unrhyw wendidau o fewn y gyfraith efallai i'r amgylchedd o beidio â chael y gwendidau yna wedi cael eu hadfer neu eu newid. Felly, dŷn ni yn edrych ar risg o safbwynt hynny hefyd. Dwi ddim yn siŵr a ydy hynny yn ateb i gyd o'r cwestiynau rŷch chi wedi eu gofyn yn fanna.

Well, there are a number of questions there, aren't there, that deserve further consideration. First of all, I'm not tasked with putting the permanent body in place. Clearly, that's an issue for the Welsh Government. What I can do, however, is to provide feedback on the process and what's happened during the past 18 months, and I very much look forward to doing that with Welsh Government so that they can learn from my experiences over the past 18 months in terms of helping to develop that more permanent body that will be put in place.

I do meet regularly—very regularly, in fact—with the Office for Environmental Protection and Environmental Standards Scotland, and those meetings have been very useful indeed. During our establishment period, they've helped with the processes that we've put in place, also the availability of experts that we need to look at various different issues, and also in terms of prioritisation and looking at issues that are perhaps relevant to us all, because the environment doesn't respect any borders, of course. And those meetings have been very positive. They've been very open and transparent, and I do think that the opportunity to do that has been very useful for me in terms of this role during the past 18 months, but also I think that the experiences that those bodies have, having been established, over the last 18 months, that the experiences that they have will be of great use to the Welsh Government as they put legislation in place for a permanent body for us here in Wales.

In terms of risk, it's very difficult to discuss that in any great detail as to what the risk entails. Of course, there have been cases brought to my attention that have been outwith my scope to deal with. So, there are some six issues that have been drawn to my attention that looked at a breach of environmental law or a possible breach of law. Now, clearly, that's not within the scope of my role at the moment, and that perhaps would have been something that would have fallen within the scope of the previous arrangement. But there's nothing to suggest that those would have been cases that would have been taken forward either and that there would have been further reports or recommendations on them. I can only consider what's been put in front of me and what's within my remit, of course.

In terms of other factors, we do look at risk as a factor that we consider in prioritising issues. So, in terms of things that are within my scope to deal with, then risk is one of the things that we do look at in detail—what is the risk of any weaknesses within the law for the environment and the risk from those weaknesses not being mitigated or changed. So, we do look at risk in that context. I'm not sure if that's answered all of your questions there.

11:15

Fel rhywun sy'n edrych o bell, ydy e'n annheg i characterise-o'r rôl fel un sydd naill ai'n dweud wrth bobl i fynd i adolygiad barnwrol neu i fynd i'r Gweinidog yn dweud dyw'r gyfraith ddim yn addas yn yr achos yna? A dyna beth yw e i bob pwrpas, onid yw e?

As someone who's looking at this from a distance, is it unfair to characterise the role as one that either tells people to go to a judicial review or to go to the Minister saying that the law isn't suitable? Is that what it is, in all purposes?

Na, dwi ddim yn credu, achos mae gen i'r opsiwn i greu'r adroddiad yna ac i edych i mewn i'r mater yna'n fwy manwl er mwyn gwneud argymhellion sydd yn seiliedig ar farn arbenigwyr ar y maes yna a hefyd tystiolaeth ar lafar neu yn ysgrifenedig sydd yn dod i mewn i fi. So, mae'r posibilrwydd i asesu'r mater yna, efallai rhoi bach mwy o gig ar yr asgwrn, os liciwch chi, ar y mater yna, yn hytrach na mynd yn syth at y Gweinidog.

No, I don't think so, because I do have the option to generate those reports and to look into issues in more detail in order to make recommendations based on the view of specialists in that area and also to take oral or written evidence. So, there's that possibility to assess an issue and to perhaps put more meat on the bone, if you like, rather than going straight to the Minister.

Iawn, ocê. Diolch yn fawr iawn. Diolch. Delyth.

Okay. Thank you very much. Thanks. Delyth.

Diolch. Bore da. Rwy'n cymryd ac rwy'n cydnabod y ffaith eich bod chi wedi dweud bod yr hyn dŷch chi'n gallu ei wneud yn eithaf cyfyngedig a dim ond hyn a hyn dŷch chi'n gallu ei wneud. Allwch chi ein siarad ni drwy, plîs, pa gyfraniad sydd gennych chi at y gwaith o ddatblygu trefniant llywodraethu parhaol? Os ydych chi wedi dysgu unrhyw beth o gyrff mewn gwledydd eraill, beth ydy hynny? A hefyd, os allwch chi—. Dwi'n cydnabod eto bod hyn yn rhywbeth roeddech chi wedi cyffwrdd arno fe yn y datganiad agoriadol, ond pa risgiau ydych chi'n meddwl sy'n gysylltiedig â pheidio cael trefniant parhaol, cyn belled ag ydym ni'n gallu rhagweld beth ydy'r risgiau? Dwi'n gwybod bod hynny'n lot mewn un cwestiwn.

Thank you. Good morning. I acknowledge the fact that you've said that what you can do is quite limited and you can only do so much. Can you talk us through what contribution you have towards the work of developing a permanent governance arrangement? If you've learned anything from bodies in other countries, what are those lessons? And also, could you—? I acknowledge again that this is something that you have touched upon in your opening statement, but what risks do you think are associated with not having permanent governance arrangements, as far we can foresee those risks? I know that's a lot in one question.

Ydy, a rŷn ni wedi cyfro tipyn o hynny—

Yes, and we have touched on that—

Ydyn.

Yes, we have.

—ond efallai eich bod chi ychwanegu at hynny.

—so I don't know if you want to add anything.

Dwi'n credu bod yna lot i'w ddysgu; dwi'n credu bod hynny yn wir i'w ddweud. A dwi wedi cael trafodaethau anffurfiol gyda Llywodraeth Cymru amboutu rhai o'r pethau dŷn ni wedi'u dysgu mor belled ac efallai rhai bydden nhw moyn cymryd i mewn i ystyriaeth wrth sefydlu corff parhaol. Ond, yn amlwg, mae angen trafodaeth fwy ffurfiol rownd hynny a'r adborth byddwn i'n gallu ei roi iddyn nhw ar hynny.

Well, I think there is a great deal to learn. And I have had informal discussions with the Welsh Government as to the lessons learned so far and some of the things that they would perhaps want to take into account in establishing a permanent body. But, clearly, there would be a need for a more formal discussion around that and the feedback I could give them on that.

So, oes gennych chi ryw fath o rôl ffurfiol pan fo'n dod i ddatblygu'r ddeddfwriaeth rŷn ni i gyd yn aros amdani i greu trefniadau mwy parhaol?

So, do you have some sort of formal role when it comes to developing the legislation that we're all waiting for to create more permanent arrangements?

Na. Yr unig beth dwi'n gallu ei gynnig yw'r profiad sydd gen i o ddelio â'r rôl sydd wedi bod gen i am y cyfnod yma.

No. The only thing I can offer is the experience that I've had over this period.

Ac mae'r Llywodraeth wedi gofyn i chi am hynny.

And the Government has asked you for that.

So, dwi wedi cael trafodaeth anffurfiol, ond dŷn ni ddim wedi cael trafodaethau ffurfiol o ran hynny.

I've had an informal discussion, but we haven't had any formal discussions.

Ocê, ac efallai ei bod hi dal yn ddyddiau cynnar i raddau hefyd.

Okay, and perhaps they are still early days.

Ydy.

Yes.

Ocê. Dyna fe; diolch yn fawr iawn. Reit, symudwn ni ymlaen felly at Huw, os ydy hynny'n iawn.

Okay. Thank you very much. So, we'll move on now to Huw.

Thank you, Chair, and we have started to go into this territory already, but I wonder if you could nail down a little bit more for us the criteria that you use to decide whether a submission should be subject to a report for Welsh Ministers.

So, fel rôn i'n ei grybwyll yn gynharach, dŷn ni'n edrych ar sawl ffactor gwahanol neu egwyddorion, os liciwch chi, yn nhermau a ydyn ni yn gwneud adroddiad ar fater penodol neu beidio. A'r tri prif ffactor yw effaith, risg a wedyn adnoddau.

So, effaith: dŷn ni'n ceisio ffocysu ein hadnoddau ble byddant mwyaf gwerthfawr—so, er enghraifft, rhoi blaenoriaeth i faterion lle byddai newid cyfraith yn gallu rhoi canlyniad i wella'r amgylchedd. Risg wedyn: rŷn ni'n ceisio ffocysu ein hadnoddau ar ddiffygion yn y gyfraith sydd â siawns da o gael effaith arwyddocaol os na chaiff sylw. A wedyn, o ran adnoddau, mae'n rhaid ceisio ymchwilio i mewn i faterion ond lle mae'n gymesurol i'w wneud, hefyd—so, y proportionality hefyd. So, rŷn ni'n ystyried hwnna hefyd, a'r effaith gall y mater yna ei chael o ran yr adnoddau sydd gyda ni wrth gymesuro hwnna gyda materion eraill.

Beth sydd wedi bod yn amlwg hefyd yw, petai'r rôl yn gofyn bod adroddiad yn cael ei wneud ar bob cais sy'n dod i mewn, rwy'n credu byddai hwnna wedi bod yn anfantais. Rwy'n credu bod mantais fawr o edrych arno fe fel cyfanwaith, ac edrych ar ble mae'r themâu sydd yn datblygu o nifer o geisiadau gyda'i gilydd yn dod â ni. Er enghraifft, gyda'r adroddiad cyntaf, mae hwnna'n ymwneud â materion coedwigaeth, ac mae hwnna'n ymateb i ddau gais a ddaeth i mewn, dim un. Ers hynny, mae yna ragor o geisiadau wedi dod i mewn, ac rŷn ni'n gallu wedyn cymryd hynny i mewn i ystyriaeth wrth edrych ar yr adroddiad hwnnw. Mae'n amlwg iawn o ran dŵr, hefyd, a safon dŵr. Rŷn ni wedi cael sawl cais ar hynny. Felly, mae yna fantais o'u grwpio hefyd ac edrych ar y cyfanwaith, os liciwch chi, o ran blaenoriaethu hefyd, a thynnu'r materion at ei gilydd i gael efallai adroddiad mwy cynhwysfawr ar y mater.

Mae hwnna hefyd—. Dyna beth dwi'n gobeithio ei wneud gyda'r sancsiynau sifil, achos mae yna nifer o geisiadau sydd wedi dod i mewn ar amryw o bethau yn ymwneud â'r amgylchedd, o fioamrywiaeth i ddŵr i gloddiau, gwrychoedd, ac yn y blaen. Mae yna amryw o faterion ble efallai dylen ni fod yn edrych ar sut rŷn ni'n sicrhau cydymffurfiad â rhywbeth, a sut rydyn ni'n annog pobl i beidio â gwneud y pethau yma, ac i amddiffyn yr amgylchedd trwy wneud yn siŵr dyw e ddim yn digwydd yn y lle cyntaf. Rwy'n credu y byddai'n ddefnyddiol iawn i edrych ar y technegau sydd gyda ni o fewn y gyfraith hefyd—so, edrych ar hwnna dros nifer o wahanol ardaloedd sydd gyda ni o fewn cyfraith amgylcheddol, i edrych arno fe eto fel cyfanwaith. So, dwi'n credu bod y darn yna o waith yn mynd i gael effaith ar sawl agwedd ar yr amgylchedd, dim jest ar un agwedd.

As I mentioned earlier, we are looking at a number of different factors or principles, if you like, in terms of whether we provide a report on a specific issue or not. And the three main factors are impact, risk and then resources.

So, on impact, we try to focus our resources where they'll be most valuable—so, for example, prioritisng issues where change of law would provide an improvement in the outcome for the environment. Risk, then: we try and focus our resources on deficiencies in the law that have a good chance of having a significant impact if not addressed. And then, in terms of resources, we have to try and investigate matters only where it is proportionate to do so—so, the proportionality too. So, we consider that also, and the impact that that issue can have in terms of the resources that we have in looking into that and comparing it to other issues.

What has been clear also is that, if the role asked that a report was generated on every submission, I think that would have been a disadvantage. I think there is a great advantage in looking at it as one piece of work, and looking at the themes that are developing from a number of submissions together. For example, in the first report, that relates to issues relating to forestry, and that responds to two submissions that came in, not one. And since then, more submissions have come in, and then we can take that into consideration as we look at the report. That's very clear in terms of water as well, and water quality. We've had a number of submissions on water quality. So, there is an advantage in grouping issues together and looking at them as a whole in terms of prioritisation too, and bringing all these issues together to perhaps have a more comprehensive report on the issue. 

That also—. That is what I hope to do with the civil sanctions, because submissions have come in on a number of issues relating to the environment, from biodiversity to water to hedgerows and so forth. There are a number of issues where perhaps we should be looking at how we ensure compliance with something, and how we encourage people not to do these things, and to safeguard the environment to ensure it doesn't happen in the first place. I think it would be very useful to look at the techniques we have within the law—so, to look at that in a number of areas that we have in environmental law, to look at it again as a whole. So, I think that piece of work is going to have an impact on a number of aspects of the environment, not just on one.

11:20

That's really helpful as an answer, but, if I look at two of the areas that you haven't mentioned yet, although you've just touched on it a little bit with one of them, the issue of wildlife and nature protection, you're looking at the issue of forestry, you're looking at the issue of water quality, you're going to move on to the issue of hedgerows, and the other big one that you've had enquiries on is that wildlife and nature protection. So, how would that fall within it? And how do some of the smaller ranges of issues that you've had enquiries on that are equally important, things like management of sites of special scientific interest or access to environmental information—how can you, within the remit that you have and the resource you have, respond to those in a meaningful way?

Felly, mae sawl mater pwysig iawn fanna. So, ar fioamrywiaeth, er enghraifft, mae yna elfen o hwnna yn yr adroddiad coedwigaeth. So, un o'r materion bydden ni'n edrych arno yw fel rŷn ni'n amddiffyn bioamrywiaeth o fewn y mesuriadau sydd gyda ni ar dorri coed, er enghraifft. Felly, mae'r themâu yma yn integreiddio gyda'i gilydd, a beth sy'n bwysig yw edrych arnyn nhw fel cyfanwaith eto, fel rwy'n ei ddweud, yn hytrach nag edrych arnyn nhw fel materion penodol annibynnol.

Rŷch chi'n codi pwynt pwysig arall hefyd amboutu ardaloedd mwy eang—rŷch chi'n sôn am SSSIs, ond edrych ar gadwraeth ar lefel mwy o faint, efallai, ardaloedd yn nhermau hynny. Er enghraifft, mae cyfraith y SSSIs wedi bod gyda ni am nifer o flynyddoedd, ac mae yna gonsérn, a dwi wedi derbyn cais ar y gyfraith—nid y gyfraith sy'n ymwneud â hwnna, ond efallai sut mae'r gyfraith yna yn cael ei defnyddio yn ymarferol. Dwi wedi dechrau edrych ar y mater yna hefyd, a bydden ni'n edrych ar wneud digwyddiad penodol ar hwnna yn yr hydref. Felly, mae yna lot o brojectau neu materion yn cael eu hystyried, a beth sy'n bwysig yw ein bod ni'n edrych arno fe ac yn plethu'r pethau yma hefyd, a ddim yn edrych arnyn nhw yn hollol annibynnol ar ei gilydd.

Fe wnaethoch chi godi pwynt fanna hefyd amboutu gwybodaeth amgylcheddol, ac unrhyw gais penodol dwi wedi derbyn hefyd ar hwnna. Beth dwi wedi bod yn trio ei wneud, pan fydd yna fater yn cael ei godi gyda fi ble dyw e ddim, efallai, o fewn y sgôp, neu dyw e ddim yn rhywbeth rwyf i yn mynd i allu mynd ymlaen i wneud adroddiad arno yn benodol, oherwydd yr asesiad blaenoriaethu yna neu oherwydd dyw e ddim o fewn fy sgôp i, beth rwyf wedi bod yn trio ei wneud yw uwcholeuo hwnna i'r cyrff perthnasol ar gyfer delio â'r materion yna. Felly, mae'n bwysig iawn nad ydw i'n mynd nôl a dweud, 'Sori, dwi ddim yn gallu helpu gyda hwnna', ac mae e'n bennu fanna. So, beth dwi wedi bod yn trio ei wneud yw uwcholeuo hwnna gyda'r cyrff perthnasol, ond, eto, mae'n dod lawr i adnoddau i allu delio â'r materion yna i gyd yn y dyfnder, wrth gwrs, y byddem ni gyd yn hoffi ei wneud.

So, there are a number of important issues there. So, on biodiversity, for example, there's an element of that in the forestry report. So, one of the issues that we will look at is how we protect biodiversity within the measures that we have on tree felling, for example. So, these themes integrate with each other, and what's important is to look at them all as a whole, holistically, rather than looking at them as specific, independent issues.

You raise another important point regarding broader areas—you were talking about SSSIs, but looking at conservation on a greater scale, perhaps, in those terms. For example, we've had the legislation on SSSIs for a number of years, and there is concern, and I've received a submission on the law—not the law that relates to that, but perhaps how that law is used on a practical level. I have started to look at that issue too, and we will be looking to undertake a specific action on that in the autumn. There are a number of projects or issues are being considered, and what's important is that we look at them and weave all of these together, not look at them totally independent of each other.

You raised a point there as well about environmental information, and if I've received a specific submission about that as well. What I have been trying to do is that when an issue is raised with me where, perhaps, it's not within the scope or it's not something that I can go on to do a report on specifically, because of that prioritisation assessment or because it's not within my scope, what I have been trying to do is to highlight that to the relevant bodies for dealing with those issues. So, it's important that I don't go back and say, 'Sorry, I can't help with that', and that it stops there. So, what I have been trying to do is highlight that with relevant bodies, but, again, it comes down to resources to deal with all those issues to the depth to which we would all want to see it done. 

11:25

Diolch, Huw. Ocê, diolch am hynny. Fe symudwn ni ymlaen felly at Delyth. 

Thank you, Huw. Thank you for that. We'll move on therefore to Delyth. 

Dwi'n gwybod bod rhai o'r pethau hyn yn bethau rydych chi wedi cyffwrdd arnyn nhw naill ai yn y datganiad y gwnaethoch ei roi ar y dechrau neu yn rhai o'r cwestiynau eraill, felly, a oes unrhyw beth ychwanegol y byddech chi eisiau ei ddweud ar y rhesymau pam nad ydych chi wedi cyhoeddi adroddiadau i Weinidogion Cymru o fewn y flwyddyn gyntaf? Mae'n fine os dŷch chi ddim eisiau ychwanegu unrhyw beth; roeddwn i jest eisiau rhoi cyfle os oeddech chi eisiau rhoi rhywbeth ychwanegol mewn ar hwnna.

I know that some of these things are issues that you've touched upon either in your opening statement or in response to other questions, but is there anything additional that you'd want to say as to the reasons why you haven't published reports to Welsh Ministers within the first year? It's fine if you have nothing to add, but I just wanted to give you an opportunity if you wanted to add anything on that issue.

Efallai jest i ategu ar hwnna, y gobaith oedd y byddem ni wedi ei wneud e o fewn y 12 mis cyntaf, ond fel roeddwn i'n sôn ynghynt, daeth gymaint o faterion mewn dros gyfnod byr iawn diwedd y llynedd ac fe wnaeth hynny effeithio yn fawr iawn ar yr amserlen oedd gyda ni, a'r holl waith arall rydym ni'n ei wneud hefyd. Dwi'n gobeithio bydd yr adroddiad yna'n cael ei gyhoeddi yn y dyfodol agos, fel roeddwn i'n dweud. 

Ac efallai i fynd nôl i'r pwynt ar adnoddau eto, roedd yna amcangyfrif y byddai'r amser y byddwn i'n hala yn rhywbeth fel 20 diwrnod y flwyddyn yn y rôl yma. Felly, mae hwnna'n rhoi tipyn o gyfyngiad. Yn amlwg, mae'r amser dwi wedi hala wedi bod yn fwy na hynny yn barod, ond mae yna gyfyngiadau i'w cael ar hwnna hefyd. So, rŷm ni wedi dysgu lot, rwy'n credu, o weithio ar yr adroddiad cyntaf yna, a hefyd ar sut rŷm ni'n gallu cael, efallai, adnoddau ychwanegol er mwyn helpu i gwblhau adroddiadau a troi'r adroddiadau yma drosto yn gynt. Felly, rydyn ni wedi dysgu lot hefyd o'r profiad o wneud yr adroddiad cyntaf yna, ac rydyn ni'n ymwybodol o'r angen i gyhoeddi mwy o adroddiadau ac i wneud yn siŵr bod yr argymhellion yn mynd at y Gweinidogion ar y llefydd lle gellid gwneud gwelliant.

Just to add to that, the hope was that we would have done it within the first 12 months, but as I mentioned earlier, there were so many issues that were raised over a brief period of time at the end of last year, and that had a great impact on the timetable that we had, and all of the other work that we're doing too. I very much hope that that report will be published in the near future, as I said.

And perhaps to return to the issue of resources once again, it was estimated that the time that I would spend doing this would be some 20 days a year in this role. So, that places constraints on me. Clearly, I've spent more time than that already, but there are constraints on that too. So, we have learnt a great deal, I think, having worked on that first report, and also in terms of how we can get additional resources to help to complete reports and to turn them around more quickly. We have learned a great deal from the experience of doing that first report, and we are aware of the need to publish more of these reports, and to ensure that the recommendations are provided to Ministers in terms of improvements that can be made.

Diolch am hwnna. Cadeirydd, dwi'n meddwl bod y cwestiwn nesaf hefyd wedi cael ei gyfro'n barod. Dwi'n ymwybodol o amser; dwi ddim eisiau ailadrodd pwyntiau.

Thank you for that. I think, Chair, the next question has already been covered. I'm conscious of the time, so I don't want to repeat points.

Na, ocê, ond dwi'n meddwl ei fod e'n bwysig gwneud y pwynt; hynny yw, mae'ch rôl chi yn rôl gynghorol, nid statudol. Rŷch chi yn gallu neilltuo 20 diwrnod y flwyddyn i'r rôl. Hynny yw, mae'n sylweddol annigonol, onid yw e, o gymharu â beth oedd gennym ni yn y gorffennol, beth rŷm ni'n gobeithio fydd gennym ni yn y dyfodol, ond mae pobl sy'n dweud bod yr amgylchedd o dan fygythiad oherwydd y diffyg yma mewn llywodraethu amgylcheddol yn berffaith gywir, onid ŷn nhw? 

No, okay, but I do think it's important to make the point; your role is an advisory role, not a statutory one. You can give 20 days to the role. It's substantially inadequate, isn't it, compared to what we had in the past, what we hope we'll have in the future, but people who say that the environment is under threat because of this lack of environmental governance are right, aren't they? 

Rwy'n credu roedd e'n anodd iawn rhagweld faint o ddiwrnodau fyddai angen neu faint o faterion fyddai'n dod i sylw, ac yn y blaen, pan roedd hwn yn cael ei sefydlu. Ond, yn amlwg, mae angen ailedrych ar hwnna yn gyson, ac rwy'n credu byddai cael mwy o adnoddau er mwyn gallu delio â'r cwynion sy'n dod mewn o fudd mawr.

It was very difficult to predict how many days would be required or how many issues would be raised, and so on, at the time of establishment. But, clearly, that needs to be reviewed on an ongoing basis, and I think having more resources in order to deal with complaints would be of great benefit.

A'r pwynt wnaethoch chi ynglŷn â lefel y submissions oedd wedi dod mewn yn golygu eich bod chi wedi methu cyhoeddi'ch adroddiad cyntaf. Hynny yw, mae yna neges fanna felly i'r Llywodraeth, hyd yn oed yn y cyfnod interim yma, fod angen mwy o adnoddau arnoch chi.

And the point you made regarding the level of submissions that had come in that meant that you couldn't publish your first report. There's a message there to the Government, even in this interim period, that you need more resources. 

Ie, byddwn i yn cytuno bod angen mwy o adnoddau, ond rwy'n siŵr eich bod chi'n clywed hynna gan bob un sy'n dod i mewn.

I would agree on the issue of resources, but I'm sure you hear that from everyone. 

Wel, ydyn, ond roeddwn i eisiau ei glywed e oddi wrthych chi'n benodol. Ond, ie, yn sicr, mae honna'n neges glir rydyn ni'n ei chlywed, a gobeithio y gallwn ni gyfleu hynny i'r Llywodraeth, dwi'n siŵr, wrth adrodd ar y gwaith yma. Iawn, diolch yn fawr iawn. Diolch, Delyth. Awn ni ymlaen felly at Jenny. 

Well, yes, but I wanted to hear from you specifically. But that's a very clear message that we're hearing, and hopefully we can convey that to Government as we report on this work. Thank you very much. Thank you, Delyth. We'll move on to Jenny. 

Thank you very much. Your annual report in draft explains clearly those submissions that were outside the scope of your role. I note that two submissions related to air quality, and that sort of links in with how well you've publicised your role and what you can do about things like air quality, because I'm sure that Mr and Mrs Jones on Newport Road have never heard of you, even though they live with illegal levels of pollution. So, for example, what role would you have in advising the Government on how quickly they need to introduce a clean air Bill?

11:30

Felly, dwi ddim mewn sefyllfa efallai i drafod materion penodol yn y sesiwn yma. Dwi'n credu bod pwynt pwysig fanna, er hynny, ynglŷn ag a ydy pobl yn gwybod bod y rôl yma ar gael iddyn nhw, ac yn sicr, mae yna lawer iawn o waith gennym ni i'w wneud ar hwnna er mwyn gwella'r ymwybyddiaeth sydd ar gael ymhlith y cyhoedd, nid jest efallai ymhlith rhanddeiliaid. A dwi'n ymwybodol iawn o hynny, a'r angen i wneud hynny.

Ac mae gennym ni wefan. Mae'n cael ei darparu drwy wefan Llywodraeth Cymru, ond mae angen i ni wneud mwy o waith ar gyfathrebu yn fwy eang yn gyhoeddus, a dŷn ni'n edrych ar ddatblygu ein platfformau cyhoeddusrwydd o ran hynny, er mwyn bod mwy o ymwybyddiaeth ynglŷn â beth mae'r rôl yn gallu cyflawni iddyn nhw hefyd. Felly, mae yna lot o waith i wneud ar hwn, a dwi'n credu bydd hwnna efallai'n thema wastad. Bydd yn rhaid i ni gadw i weithio ar sut rŷn ni'n gwella'r ymwybyddiaeth o'r rôl, a beth mae'r rôl yn gallu cynnig i bobl sydd yn delio â phroblemau amgylcheddol. 

Beth sy'n bwysig yw ein bod ni'n clywed am y materion yna, hyd yn oed os oes yna faterion efallai sydd y tu allan i sgôp beth dwi'n gallu delio ag e ar hyn o bryd. Mae'n bwysig ein bod ni yn clywed am y problemau hynny, a'n bod ni'n ymwybodol o'r problemau hynny, achos mae hwnna'n amlwg yn mynd i helpu gyda sefydlu'r corff mwy parhaol. A dwi'n credu mai un o'r gofidiau efallai sydd gen i yw bod pobl ddim wedi bod yn dod ymlaen gyda'r math yna o faterion gan eu bod nhw ddim o fewn sgôp ac maen nhw wedi gwneud y penderfyniad i beidio dod â'r materion at fy sylw i, sydd yn gwmws beth ddylen nhw ei wneud rili, achos dydw i ddim yn gallu delio â nhw, ond achos dŷn nhw ddim yn dod ymlaen gyda'r materion yna, dŷn ni ddim yn gwybod amdanyn nhw ychwaith. Felly, efallai bod yna le i ddweud wrth bobl, os oes rhywbeth bydden nhw'n meddwl sy'n dorcyfraith, eu bod nhw'n dal yn dod â hwnna at ein sylw ni, ond eu bod nhw'n derbyn bod e ddim yn rhywbeth rŷn ni'n gallu delio ag e ar hyn o bryd, ond fel ein bod ni'n gwybod am y pethau yna ar gyfer pan fydd yna gorff mwy parhaol yn ei le fydd â'r pŵer statudol i ddelio ag e, os yw hwnna'n gwneud ryw synnwyr.

So, I'm not in a position perhaps to discuss specific issues in this session. I think there is an important point there, however, about whether people know that this role exists and is available to them, and certainly, there is a lot of work that we need to do on that in order to improve the awareness among the public, not just stakeholders. And I'm very aware of that, and the need to do that.

We have a website. That is provided via the Welsh Government website, but we need to do more work on communication, and communicating on a broader level publicly, and we're looking to develop our publicity platforms, so that there's more awareness of what the role can achieve for the public too. So, there's a lot of work to be done on this, and I think perhaps that's a theme that we'll always have. We'll have to keep on working on how to improve the awareness of the role and what the role can offer to people who are dealing with environmental problems. 

What's important is that we hear about those issues, even if they're outside the scope of what I can deal with at the moment. It's important that we do hear about those problems, and that we're aware of those problems, because, clearly, that is going to assist with the work of establishing the more permanent body. And I think one of the concerns I have is that people haven't been coming forward with those sorts of issues because they're not within scope and they've been making the decision of not bringing those issues to my attention, which is exactly what they should be doing really, because I can't deal with them, but because they're not coming forward with those issues, we don't know about them either. So, perhaps there is work that can be done to say to people that if they think that something is in breach of the law, that they can still bring that to our attention, but that they accept that it's not something that we can deal with currently, so that we know about these things for when there is a more permanent body in place that will have the statutory powers to deal with it, if that makes any sense.

Yes, I appreciate you've only been in post for a very short time, but I just wondered whether you've had any opportunity yet to reach out to those who provide independent advice to people who've got concerns, for example, citizens advice bureaux or legal bodies, because local authorities are unlikely to be promoting your office, given that the organisation that they're unlikely to be happy with is likely to be the local authority.

Dwi'n credu bod yna ymwybyddiaeth o fewn y sector gyfreithiol. Yn amlwg, dwi yn hannu o'r sector yna hefyd, felly mae hwnna'n ddefnyddiol. A dwi'n ymwybodol, er dwi ddim yn gwybod o ble mae ceisiadau wedi dod, fod rhai o'r rheina wedi bod yn dod o'r sector yna yn benodol; dwi'n gallu dweud hynna o'r math o gais sydd wedi dod. Felly, dwi'n gwybod bod yna ymwybyddiaeth o fewn y sector yna, ond dwi'n cytuno bod angen gwneud mwy, yn enwedig o ran efallai yr asiantaethau sy'n cynnig cyngor am ddim i bobl, fel ein bod ni'n gallu gwneud yn siŵr bod unrhyw faterion ar yr amgylchedd yn cael y sylw dylen nhw ei gael.

I think there is awareness within the legal sector. Clearly, I am from that sector as well, and that's useful. And I am aware, even though I don't know where submissions come from, that some of those have been coming from that sector; I can tell that from the type of submission that's reached me. I know there is awareness within the sector, but I agree more needs to be done, particularly perhaps in terms of the agencies that provide free advice to people, so that we can ensure that any environmental issues have the attention they deserve.

Ocê, diolch. Oes yna risg efallai bod pobl ddim yn dod atoch chi hefyd achos bod gennych chi ddim pwerau gorfodi?

Okay, thanks. Is there a risk that people aren't coming to you because you don't have enforcement powers?

11:35

Wel, dyna beth roeddwn i'n ei ddweud. Rwy'n credu bod pobl sydd yn edrych ar beth yw'r canllawiau ac yn penderfynu peidio dod â materion ataf i, achos dyw e ddim o fewn sgôp, a'r peth cyntaf byddwn i'n ei wneud byddai edrych ar hwnna a dweud, 'Mae'n flin gyda fi, dyw e ddim mewn sgôp.' Er hynny, dwi'n credu, o ran ymwybyddiaeth ar gyfer y corff parhaol, byddai'n ddefnyddiol i wybod pa faterion sydd ar gael efallai.

Well, that's what I was trying to explain. I think that people look at the guidance and decide not to bring an issue to us, because it's not within scope, and the first thing I would do is to say, 'Well, I'm sorry, it's not within scope.' However, in terms of awareness for the permanent body, it would be useful to know which issues are out there.

Ie, ie, yn sicr. Diolch yn fawr iawn. Ocê, diolch. Janet.  

Certainly, yes. Thank you. Janet. 

It's just some more clarity around your role, actually. How do you feel that we're moving more towards Wales having those governance measures in place? And why do you think Wales has fallen behind England, Scotland and Northern Ireland in having these permanent arrangements? Because the reason for my question is the background to it. Every time I ask the Minister about, 'Where's our environmental governance?' we're told that you're filling that space, and I'm not, really, at this point, assured that we're actually moving towards the environmental governance side, and how you're able to fill in that space, if you know what I mean.

Dwi ddim yn siŵr a ydy hwnna'n gwestiwn i fi neu a ydy hwnna'n gwestiwn i Lywodraeth Cymru, ond dwi'n credu—

I'm not sure if that's a question for me or a question for the Welsh Government, but I think—

No, it's a question for you, because obviously you're one of our witnesses today. Can you explain your role? Because it's classed as 'interim', we're hoping that we're not losing out too much—the environment, the climate, the nature recovery—as a result of not having the environmental governance in place. So, you technically have stepped up to fill in this interim position. So, can you just explain a little bit more to me how you feel you're doing that? 

Ocê. So, o ran y rôl sydd gennyf i—

Okay. So, in terms of the role that I have—

—and the functions that I have, I look at the functioning of environmental law. That's what I'm tasked with doing. So, that means that I'm looking at the environmental law that we have in Wales at the moment, how that achieves the objectives that it was set out to do, but also, maybe, whether or not those objectives are still the right ones, and whether there's been a change in terms of the objectives that are desired from that legislation and that there need to be changes, therefore, to the legislation to enable that to happen. I'm also able to look at issues where there are practical problems with the functioning of that environmental law. What I don't have the power to do is to look at breaches of environmental law. So, those breaches of environmental law, I cannot look at. So, for example, if there was an alleged breach by a public body of environmental law, I am not able to consider that. So, I think, that is, if you want, the fundamental difference in terms of my role and that of the Office for Environmental Protection and Environmental Standards Scotland. That is one of the fundamental differences, isn't it, in terms of my role? And I also don't have—. I provide advice. I don't have powers to require action to take place as a result of any recommendations that I make or to require public bodies to undertake certain actions as a result of recommendations that I've made either. 

So, you'd agree with me then we've still got this massive void of not having this environmental governance that needs to be filled, and currently your role, as such, or remit doesn't actually place that into proper environmental governance, like in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England. Am I correct? 

It's an interim measure that doesn't equate to exactly what was in place before.

Yes, okay. Diolch. So, hynny yw, what we're saying is that void, created as a consequence of Brexit, hasn't properly been filled until, hopefully, we have those longer term arrangements in place. Of—. 

Mae rhywun wedi switsio yn ôl i Saesneg nawr, heb feddwl.

One switches back to English without thinking. 

Sori.

Sorry. 

Na, na, mae'n iawn. O'r chwech achos oedd wedi'u cyflwyno ichi oedd ddim yn cael eu hystyried i fod o fewn sgôp, faint o'r rheini fuasai wedi bod o fewn sgôp o dan yr hen drefniadau cyn i Brexit ddigwydd?

No, no, it's fine. Of the six cases presented to you that weren't considered to be within scope, how many of those would have been within scope under the pre-Brexit arrangements? 

Mae'n anodd iawn i wneud yr asesiad hwnnw, a hefyd, mae'n rhaid cofio, er bod yr achosion yna wedi dod ymlaen, mae'n bosibl fyddai'r rheini ddim ychwaith wedi mynd ymhellach o dan y gyfundrefn cyn hynny. Doeddwn i ddim ynghlwm â'r asesiadau cyn hynny, wrth gwrs.

It's very difficult to make that assessment, and you must also bear in mind that although those cases were brought forward, it's possible that they perhaps wouldn't have been taken further under the pre-Brexit regime. I wasn't involved, then, of course.

11:40

Ac o'r chwech yna, oedd rhai ohonyn nhw wedi eu cyfeirio at gyrff eraill, neu rywle arall?

And of the six, were some referred to other bodies, or referred elsewhere?

Ydyn. Mae yna signposting wedi digwydd ynglŷn â rhai o'r chwech yna hefyd.

Yes, they were. Signposting has happened in relation to some of the six cases.

Ocê, iawn. Diolch yn fawr iawn. Ocê, symudwn ni ymlaen, felly, at Joyce. Mae angen troi meicroffon Joyce ymlaen. Dyna ni.

Okay, tight. Thank you very much. Okay, we'll move on to Joyce. We need to unmute Joyce. There we are.

I thought I was, but there you go. Anyway, I was saying 'good morning'. We've heard a lot this morning about the actions that you've taken. What we're interested in is whether there are any generic actions that stem from the submissions that you've had that we could draw the attention of the Welsh Government to address.

Diolch. Ie, rwy'n credu bod yna rai themâu generig, efallai, yn y ceisiadau sydd wedi dod i mewn y mae'r ceisiadau yna wedi'u huwcholeuo, efallai. Rwy'n credu bod yno'r angen, efallai, i adolygu cyfreithiau sydd gyda ni yng Nghymru yn gyson, ac i adolygu a ydyn nhw'n dal i fod yn berthnasol neu ydyn nhw'n dal i fod yn addas ar gyfer cyrraedd yr anghenion oedd ganddyn nhw ar y pryd ddaethon nhw i mewn, ond hefyd yr anghenion, efallai, sydd eisiau cael eu cyflawni nawr. 

Rwy'n credu mai un o'r pethau arall sydd wedi'i amlygu hefyd yn y ceisiadau sydd wedi dod i mewn yw'r angen i fod yn ofalus iawn wrth wneud cyfraith ar un ardal sydd wedi ei datganoli a'r effaith mae hynny efallai'n ei chael ar ardal arall sydd wedi ei datganoli hefyd. So, un enghraifft yn fanna, efallai, yw cyfraith amgylcheddol a chyfraith cynllunio, ac mae hynny wedi amlygu ei hun fel rhan o'r adroddiad cyntaf dŷn ni'n gweithio arno yn ymwneud â choedwigaeth. 

A hefyd, efallai, mae'r angen i fod yn ymwybodol o'r unexpected consequences a'r pethau, efallai, sydd yn anodd iawn i'w hystyried pan fydd cyfreithiau yn cael eu rhoi mewn lle neu bolisïau yn cael eu rhoi mewn lle, ambout'r gwahanol sgil-effeithiau sy'n gallu dod allan o hwnna, efallai o fewn cyfraith amgylcheddol, pan fyddwn ni'n newid pethau o fewn cyfreithiau eraill. So, efallai fod rhai themâu mwy cyffredinol yn fanna yn nhermau cyfraith a chreu cyfraith ac adolygu cyfraith o fewn Cymru, efallai.

Thank you. Yes, I think there are some generic themes in the submissions that we've received that those submissions have highlighted. There's the need, perhaps, to review the laws that we have in Wales on a regular basis, and to review whether they're still relevant, or whether they are still suitable in terms of fulfilling the objectives they had when they were introduced, or in terms of what needs to be done and delivered now.

I think one of the other things that has been highlighted in the submissions is the need to be very careful when drawing up legislation on one area that has been devolved and the impact that that has on another devolved area. So, one example there, of course, is environmental law and planning law, and that has become clear as part of the first report that we're working on in relation to forestry.

Al