Venue: held remotely via video-conference
Contact: Lisa Evans
i) Councillors Euros Davies (Vice-Chair), Gareth Davies, Meirion Davies and Elizabeth Evans apologised for their inability to attend the meeting.
ii) Sarah Groves-Phillips, Planning Policy Service Manager apologised for her inability to attend the meeting.
Disclosures of personal interest (including whipping declarations)
There were no disclosures of Personal and Prejudicial Interests (including whipping declarations) from Committee Members.
The Chair welcomed and thanked Gavin Bown from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) for attending and for his readiness to speak with Committee Members regarding this issue of concern. The Chair explained the original meeting had been arranged for January with representatives from NRW and Dwr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW) invited, but unfortunately, NRW had been unable to attend.
Gavin Bown apologised for his inability to attend the meeting arranged in January. Gavin Bown provided a presentation to the Committee outlining the following:
· SAC rivers in Wales
· Structure of new targets
· An overview of the SAC rivers in Wales (includes maps) with a focus on the River Teifi
· NRW Response
· Nutrient Management Boards (including Teifi Nutrient Management Board)
· External Groups
· Next Steps- Wales-wide & Teifi
Committee Members then had the opportunity to question Gavin Bown. The main points/concerns raised were:
· In response to whether NRW were satisfied they had complied with the Well-being and Future Generations Act 5 ways working with the original release, Gavin Bown noted that generally, NRW were attempting to learn from every element of the process, which includes putting a framework in place to ensure any discussion and consultation were held accordingly in moving forward.
· Significant Mine Water Projects are being delivered at present across Wales by NRW to improve water quality. Gavin Bown to provide a written update regarding Rheidol Valley to the Committee Members.
· In response to whether NRW had gone out to consultants for potential mitigations work despite data from Wye and other Local Authority’s (LA’s) commissioning similar evidence, it was noted that one of the key reasons NRW had pushed for an Oversight Group was to avoid duplication of efforts and to ensure the public had value for money.
· Carmarthenshire’s nutrient calculator has been developed specifically for the River Towy but work will be done as part of the Oversight Group to look at other calculators and to develop a calculator suitable for all rivers. Consideration is needed in terms of how NRW will manage the output of calculators.
· NRW will be involved in the Oversight Group along with each Nutrient Management Board (NMB) to ensure there is a joined-up approach, but it is important to understand that all rivers have different needs and that solutions will vary.
· In response to a question around water quality, Gavin Bown clarified the revised standards varied between rivers to factor in the natural background, but generally, it was around 50-80% tighter than the previous standards.
· NRW has prevented the LA from further development on the River Teifi (which affects 40% of Ceredigion), due to SAC following conducting a compliance assessment which the planning department must follow, yet, during the planning consultation process where NRW are statutory consultees, they respond with no objections to applications of development of new dwellings on the River Teifi. Concerns raised as this gives the public the impression that the planning department/ Elected Members are preventing development rather than NRW and therefore transparency is required. Gavin Bown suggested ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
The Committee resolved to confirm the Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on 18th February 2022 as a correct record.
Gethin Davies noted he had raised at the meeting held on 20 January 2022 that Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) discharged effluent into Aberporth beach too, along with Aberaeron harbour.
Any other business
The Chair apologised for his use of unappropriated language at a previous meeting.
The Chair explained this would be the last Thriving Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee for this administration. He thanked all for their co-operation and wished everyone well.