December 2020

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 wider environment. 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 future generations. 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.
Archive from 2013 Historic Interest