The Welsh Government has responded to criticism by environmental groups over a lack of progress on tackling the nature emergency.

Groups including the RSPB and the Wales Environment Link hit out at the government on Tuesday, following an announcement by First Minister Mark Drakeford detailing the five Bills that will be introduced to the Senedd over the coming year.

The largely climate-focussed program - made up of the Clean Air Bill, the Single-Use Plastics Bill, the Agriculture Bill, the Coal Tip Safety Bill and the Infrastructure Consenting Bill - did not include legislation pledged in the Senedd's nature emergency declaration last summer. That would create legally binding targets for reducing plant and wildlife loss in Wales, and establish an independent body to hold the government to account on those targets.

The RSPB called the omission "bitterly disappointing", urging the Welsh Government to "take immediate action to address this emergency head-on, leaving no stone unturned."

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The Wales Environment Link - a network for environmental charities operating in Wales - said that a timetable and White Paper for the nature emergency Bill was needed "urgently".

In spite of this, the Welsh Government has insisted that both the climate and nature emergencies remain "at the heart" of its work, and that the promised legislation would still appear before the end of this Senedd term in 2026.

“In the meantime, we have appointed an Interim Environmental Protection Assessor for Wales (IEPAW) who considers complaints regarding the functioning of environmental law in Wales," a Welsh Government spokesperson added.

“We are looking at ways to maximise the effectiveness of this role until legislation is brought forward to create a permanent body, and are looking at how best to implement targets for this interim period.”

 

 

The Wales Environment Link, however, has noted that this Interim Assessor is only able to collect complaints and issue advice, and does not have any statutory power to either investigate or enforce environmental regulations.

Back in 2019, The State of Nature report- compiled by government agencies and wildlife organisations - found that at least 73 species had been lost in Wales since the 1970s, when rigorous scientific monitoring began. 

These species included birds like turtle doves and corn buntings.

As much as 36 percent of vertebrate species in Wales were judged to be at risk of extinction here.

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