Of Red Squirrels & Windfarms
Chair of Natural Resources Wales and RADCA member Sir David Henshaw tells us what’s
been going on in and around Ruthin
When I took on the Chair of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) about two years or so ago, one of the
immediate priorities for me was to see an organisation that built stronger relationships with the
communities we serve all over Wales and with our many stakeholders. Partnership work is
crucial—it is only by working together that we can achieve our ambitions for Wales—for its
environment, for its communities and for its economy.
And so, in this article, I’d like to take the opportunity to discuss some of the key partnership work
that’s been going on in and around Ruthin, an area that I’ve called home for the past twelve years.
I have to start with the agricultural
community. Farmers play a
critical role in protecting our
countryside and we are working
with farming groups to help
develop a sustainable agricultural
industry that will support the
Agricultural pollution remains
amongst the top of our list of
concerns. We are working in
partnership with local farmers
along the River Clwyd to help improve the water quality of the river. Together with the farmers, NRW
has fenced off around 650 yards of the main River Clwyd and installed troughs as an alternative
drinking water point for the animals. By restricting access to cattle, we can protect the river, improve
the water quality and river life here on the Clwyd as well as nearby streams, rivers and coastal
waters for years to come.
And as an aside, and on a personal note, the River Clwyd has also been the focus of a couple of
litter picking ventures (along with regular litter picking locally) that my wife has organised with the
help of Keep Wales Tidy and our neighbours. The damage to wildlife of litter generally is immense.
We all appreciate the voluntary effort that goes into collecting litter in the Ruthin area and more
generally across Wales.
Last year, we saw the completion of the Clocaenog Forest Wind Farm which is owned by RWE, but
built on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate that is managed by NRW. The project successfully
installed 27 turbines within the working forest and is now capable of producing enough renewable
energy for the equivalent domestic needs of up to 63,800 average UK households per annum.
As part of this scheme, NRW has also purchased 40 hectares of farmland
on the edge of the forest. This is part of our woodland creation programme
and we’ll be planting a mixture of broadleaf and conifer species over the
winter months that will offer opportunities for people, businesses and
biodiversity, as well as make a positive difference to our lives and to those of
And, as RADCA members will know, the forest is also home to a small but
very important population of red squirrels, and since 2018 the Clocaenog
Red Squirrel Trust (CRST) has worked with us to help protect one of the
UK’s rarest mammals.
Like us all, the coronavirus pandemic has forced me to reflect on the Wales we want to see as we
emerge from one of the most challenging time of our lives. I was very pleased to be asked by the
Welsh Government Minister for the Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths AS, to chair a
task force that puts green polices at the heart of how we recover from the pandemic. We asked
organisations and individuals across the country to propose projects and schemes that contributed
to taking on the challenges presented by the pandemic to the environment and climate.
We’ve received a huge number of suggestions. The task force is about to publish its report and
hopes to move into a delivery role in the coming months making sure these projects happen. I hope
to be able to talk in more detail soon.
There is a lot more we can all do, and I look forward to continuing working with NRW colleagues and
our partners to achieve our goals of facing the climate and nature emergencies, and seeing the
benefits that environmental projects can give to communities throughout Wales. I’d like to encourage
RADCA members to keep in touch with NRW via its website https://naturalresources.wales where
you’ll see information ranging from flood warnings to details of our various projects. Any feedback or
questions, please get in touch.