We Asked, You Said, We Did

Below are some of the issues we have recently consulted on and their outcomes.

We asked

We asked for your comments on the Forest Resource Plan for the Welsh Government Woodland Estate in the Rhondda Valley. The Forest Resource Plan is a high level plan that determines the overall management of the woodlands, setting out the long term objectives for each woodland (ancient woodland restoration, native woodland management, or standard forestry management, for example), and the general approach to any restocking, such as with native broadleaf or coniferous species. But the plan does not go into the specific day to day management of the estate, this is provided by our Land Management and Forest Operations Team whose work the plan informs.

You said

We had a high level of responses to this consultation showing how much people value the woodlands in the Rhondda.

It was clear that there is a high level of use in some of the woodlands for mountain biking and other recreational pursuits, and many responses want to see this use supported more. There was also a perception this use could be negatively impacted by woodland management activities. There was also dissatisfaction with the wording used in the document that listed unauthorised mountain biking as anti-social behaviour in the same context as fly tipping.

However, there were also some responses that expressed concern about the level of mountain biking in some woodlands and the impact this could have on other users and the woodland itself.

There were many comments expressing concern about perceived negative impacts our felling activity has on the local environment and the communities near to the woodlands.

There was broad support for aims to restore ancient semi natural woodland on the estate and improve biodiversity within the woodlands, and there were some responses that wanted more native trees and less conifer on the estate.

There was some dissatisfaction on the information provided as part of the consultation and the quality of the maps and how hard they were to understand.

We did

We have taken the comments received on board and they have been shared with relevant teams within Natural Resources Wales. The level of interest in this FRP shows how much the woodlands are valued locally and by visitors for recreation and health and wellbeing which is something we want to support and encourage.

We continue to work with The Bike Doctor at Barry Sidings Country Park to agree an approach to responsible mountain biking at Gelliwion that will support the mountain bikers as well as other users, and will allow woodland management activities to take place, and we are moving towards an agreeable solution for everyone.

We now realise putting mountain biking in the same sentence as fly tipping might not have been taken well, however this was focusing on irresponsible trail building and use of trails that damages the woodland ecosystem, puts other users in danger, and prevents management activities, not mountain biking in general. In future we will be clearer in our language when discussing such issues.

Forestry activities follow best practice to minimise impacts on the local environment, and although can sometimes look unsightly, is carried out in line with the UK Forestry Standard and UK Woodland Assurance Scheme. We do not deforest the land, as is often thought, but areas that have been felled will be left fallow for some time and then restocked or allowed to naturally regenerate with native species depending on the objective. Leaving the area fallow can have benefits to reduce pests and diseases, and the brash left can help to reduce run off and rot down to provide nutrients in the soil. We are working to improve how we communicate with neighbours and communities when forestry operations are being planned and to communicate why we manage the woodlands in the ways we do and the benefits it brings.

We are working hard to balance the demands on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate and the three objectives as set out in the Woodlands for Wales: The Welsh Government’s Strategy for Woodlands and Trees (2018), that they provide benefits for communities, for biodiversity and the environment, and for the economy. We are also working hard to meet the challenges provided by diseases such as Phytophthora Ramorum, which has impacted larch, ash die back, and other diseases that are affecting the resilience of the woodlands.

We understand the dissatisfaction that some people have expressed about the level of information provided and the difficulty in understanding the maps and some of the terminology. We are taking on board this feedback and will be working to improve the level of information in the Forest Resource Plans and to make the mapping easier to understand.

We asked

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is reviewing its Enforcement and Sanctions Policy (ESP), which will make how it tackles environmental crime in all its forms easier to understand and more accessible to the public.

Our current policy on Enforcement and Prosecution was approved and published in March 2013. We recently established an internal expert group, including legal representatives, to run a review of this policy and its associated guidance.

Our revised ESP does not change our approach to enforcement. Principally, we engage with operators, individuals, and businesses, to educate and enable compliance or prevent harm; to put the environment first and to integrate good environmental practices into normal working methods.

Our review of this policy and associated guidance considers legislative changes for our core purpose, our new organisational structures, clarity on the use of civil sanctions (where we have those powers) and accessibility requirements, for publishing as a series of webpages.

Following the conclusion of the public consultation exercise we will assess and publish all relevant and valid consultation responses.

Subject to approval by internal governance at Enforcement Subgroup and Regulatory Business Board, our revised Enforcement and Prosecution Policy will then be published on our website.

You said

We received 26 responses to the consultation from a wide range of people and companies including representatives of Angling clubs, rivers trusts, woodland trusts, a community councillor and community groups, Charites, The Farmers Union of Wales, RSPB Cymru, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and a number of Ltd Companies.

Overall, the respondents supported the new Enforcement and Sanctions Policy and wanted to see NRW take enforcement action against environmental crime, and in particular river pollution, illegal fishing, damage to nature and fly tipping.

Many of the responses were concerned with our incident attendance and response siting particular instances where they had first-hand knowledge or were dissatisfied with NRW actions in that individual case.

Some responders whilst critical of NRW acknowledged that NRW is faced with a resource shortage / lack of boots on ground and that there was little point in having a ESP without the staff or resource to implement it.

The comments raised about resource and incident response whilst not forming part of this consultation will be fed back to our regulatory business board and may be used in future discussions with WG.

We did

We intend to:

Publish the revised ESP

Review each response and provide a detailed report for our Regulatory business board

Share the responses with the relevant parts of the business i.e. Incident response

The following redacted document (annex 1) captures the themes of the responses we received in relation to this consultation.

We asked

Mae Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru (CNC) yn adolygu ei Bolisi Gorfodi a Sancsiynau, a fydd yn gwneud sut mae’n mynd i’r afael â throseddau amgylcheddol o bob math yn haws ei ddeall ac yn fwy hygyrch i’r cyhoedd.

Cymeradwywyd a chyhoeddwyd ein polisi presennol ar orfodi ac erlyn ym mis Mawrth 2013. Yn ddiweddar, sefydlwyd grŵp arbenigol mewnol gennym, gan gynnwys cynrychiolwyr cyfreithiol, i gynnal adolygiad o’r polisi hwn a’i ganllawiau cysylltiedig.

Nid yw ein Polisi Gorfodi a Sancsiynau diwygiedig yn newid ein hymagwedd at orfodi.  Yn bennaf, rydym yn ymgysylltu â gweithredwyr, unigolion a busnesau i addysgu a galluogi cydymffurfedd neu atal niwed, i roi'r amgylchedd yn gyntaf, ac i integreiddio arferion amgylcheddol da o fewn dulliau gweithio arferol.

Mae ein hadolygiad o’r polisi hwn a’r canllawiau cysylltiedig yn ystyried newidiadau deddfwriaethol ar gyfer ein diben craidd, ein strwythurau sefydliadol newydd, eglurder ar y defnydd o gosbau sifil (lle mae’r pwerau hynny gennym), a gofynion hygyrchedd, i’w cyhoeddi fel cyfres o dudalennau gwe.

Ar ôl i'r ymgynghoriad cyhoeddus ddod i ben, byddwn yn asesu ac yn cyhoeddi'r holl ymatebion perthnasol a dilys i'r ymgynghoriad.

Yn amodol ar gymeradwyaeth gan lywodraethu mewnol yr Is-grŵp Gorfodi a’r Bwrdd Busnes Rheoleiddiol, bydd ein Polisi Gorfodi ac Erlyn diwygiedig wedyn yn cael ei gyhoeddi ar ein gwefan.

You said

Cawsom 26 o ymatebion i’r ymgynghoriad gan amrywiaeth eang o bobl a chwmnïau, gan gynnwys cynrychiolwyr o glybiau genweirio, ymddiriedolaethau afonydd, ymddiriedolaethau coetir, cynghorydd cymuned a grwpiau cymunedol, elusennau, Undeb Amaethwyr Cymru, RSPB Cymru, Gwasanaeth Tân ac Achub De Cymru, a nifer o gwmnïau cyfyngedig.

Yn gyffredinol, roedd yr ymatebwyr yn cefnogi’r Polisi Gorfodi a Sancsiynau newydd ac am weld CNC yn cymryd camau gorfodi yn erbyn troseddau amgylcheddol, ac yn arbennig llygredd afonydd, pysgota anghyfreithlon, difrod i natur, a thipio anghyfreithlon.

Roedd llawer o’r ymatebion yn ymwneud â’n presenoldeb mewn digwyddiadau a’n hymateb iddynt, gan nodi digwyddiadau penodol yr oedd ganddynt wybodaeth uniongyrchol amdanynt neu lle roeddent yn anfodlon ar gamau gweithredu CNC yn yr achos unigol hwnnw.

Roedd rhai ymatebwyr, er eu bod yn feirniadol o CNC, yn cydnabod bod CNC yn wynebu prinder adnoddau / diffyg presenoldeb ar lawr gwlad ac nad oedd fawr o ddiben cael Polisi Gorfodi a Sancsiynau heb y staff na’r adnoddau i’w weithredu.

Bydd y sylwadau a godwyd ynghylch adnoddau ac ymateb i ddigwyddiadau, er nad ydynt yn rhan o’r ymgynghoriad hwn, yn cael eu bwydo’n ôl i’n bwrdd busnes rheoleiddio a gellir eu defnyddio mewn trafodaethau â Llywodraeth Cymru yn y dyfodol.

We did

Rydym yn bwriadu:

Cyhoeddi'r Polisi Gorfodi a Sancsiynau diwygiedig

Adolygu pob ymateb a darparu adroddiad manwl ar gyfer ein bwrdd busnes rheoleiddio

Rhannu'r ymatebion gyda’r rhannau perthnasol o’r busnes, h.y. ymateb i ddigwyddiadau

Mae’r ddogfen wedi’i golygu a ganlyn (Atodiad 1) yn crynhoi themâu’r ymatebion a gawsom mewn perthynas â’r ymgynghoriad hwn.

We asked

We asked for your comments on the plans for the management of Crychan Forest over the next 10 years.

The Forest Resource Plan is the high level plan that determines the overall forest types (such as ancient woodland) and management prescriptions (such as continuous cover forestry) but does not go into the detail of the day to day management of the forest. This is provided by our Land Management and Forest Operations teams.

You said

From the consultation response it was clear that the infomation around the access and recreation provision was lacking in clarity and detail.

There were positive comments on the proposals for an increase in riparian and ancient woodland and the move to increase the area of forest under continous cover.

There were also positive comments on the provision of habitat for protected species.

The current access and recreation provision also generated many positive comments.

We did

We have prepared the following statement to provide additional detail and clarity around our provision of access and recreation in Crychan Forest. 

The Welsh Government  Woodland Estate (WGWE) is managed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).  A significant proportion of the WGWE has been designated permissive access for walking, cycling and equestrian use and this includes Crychan forest.

Crychan forest contains 4 Car Parks, 5 waymarked Walking Trails  and 5 horse corals and also includes a network of public rights of ways including footpaths, bridleways and Unclassified roads. Both horse-riders and carriage drivers can make use of Crychan for riding under the terms of a Concordat between Natural Resources Wales and the British Horse Society (BHS). NRW are committed to retain this infrastructure for the continued recreational use of the forest.

NRW also work closely with the Crychan Forest Association who complete two trail inspections a year on a number of walking and horse riding routes in Crychan and Halfway.  They also promote the trails, the woodland and on occasions host events.

The forest roads within Crychan were constructed for the purpose of timber extraction and forestry operations that also provide permissive recreational access for walking, cycling and horse riding.  These forest roads are maintained prior to and following forestry operations  and provide wide and firm routes. These routes are suitable for horse riding and carriage driving. However, as these routes are within a working forest, certain locations may be closed off for safety reasons or during certain times of the year due to forestry operations. NRW therefore request that all users follow and obey any safety signage provided on site.

Any issues of anti social behaviour should be reported to our incident hotline (03000 65 3000) and any illegal activity to the hotline and/or the police via 101.