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NRW Restructuring: How Will It Affect Environmental Safeguarding?

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A recent report has been leaked through the BBC expressing concerns from Natural Resources Wales staff regarding how internal restructuring may affect their ability to protect the environment.

Formed in 2013 from three separate organisations, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) are one of the largest government sponsored organisations in Wales. Their role is essentially to protect the environment and their responsibilities span from advising the Welsh government to educating the general public to implementing flood control measures. Imperative to the proper functioning of ecosystems, NRW also bears responsibility for monitoring water quality and biodiversity along with numerous other responsibilities essential to maintaining the beauty of the Welsh natural environment.

The restructuring will, of course, result in job losses though the primary objective is to reorganise and create teams of professionals from all environmental backgrounds to tackle the challenges ahead. The staff at NRW are mainly concerned that the suggested reshuffle will result in an organisation with less specialists and more general coverage of areas ie ‘jack of all trades, master of none’

The most recent document released by NRW regarding the restructuring claims that staff concerns have been taken in to account, and areas of complaint such as flood risk have been altered according to staff feedback. Unfortunately, even the chief executive, Claire Pillman, admitted that staff morale is low although is clear that she views the actions proposed as necessary for the organisation to move forward: “It’s now my responsibility to get a good structure that we can afford and delivers against our legislative requirements.”

Restructuring is not the only problem NRW has had to face in recent times, with news of the ‘Timber Scandal’ surfacing from an audit report in 2017. The scandal involved multi-million pound deals handed to only 3 Welsh timber companies with disregard to competition ie. the sales were offered up  into the open market. It has been claimed that problems arose due to ‘incompetence, not corruption’, though it has resulted in severe damage to NRW’s reputation.

The Welsh government’s budget towards NRW (2017-18) was £118 million, which has been proposed as entirely sufficient to ensure the functioning of the organisation. However, Llyr Gruffydd, Environmental Spokesman for Plaid Cymru suggests that without further funding, NRW would “grind to a dysfunctional halt “

The importance of NRW for the environmental safeguarding of Wales cannot be underestimated and any threat to the internal workings of the organisation is a threat to the surrounding environment that we cherish.

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Anna Ray

Environment Editor 2018-19

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