Welsh Environment Minister Supports Independent Environmental Commissioner

In a letter to Professor Robert Lee (Cymraeg), Chair of the Environmental Governance Stakeholder Task Group, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, supported setting up an independent Commission for the environment to oversee the implementation of environmental law in Wales.

The Minister agreed with the Task Group’s recommendations that the Commission should be able to draw on a wide range of expertise, be provided with appropriate functions to not only receive and respond to complaints from citizens in Wales but also to carry out inquiries where systemic issues have been identified; and should have powers to escalate matters where necessary to stop or prevent environmental damage. The Minister agreed that the body should be able to enforce mechanisms of environmental review through the Upper Tribunal.

Welsh Government had considered several other options but determined an independent Commissioner is the best option for Wales.

There has been concern from environmental bodies that there will be a governance gap in Wales once the UK leaves the EU as the legislation needed to set up the Commission will likely be passed after the elections in May.

The publication of this statement was in response to the Task Group’s final report (Cymraeg) published in April.