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Our response to the coronavirus pandemic

News on how we’re managing our services during the coronavirus pandemic

Last updated 18 May 2020

We have some temporary working practices in place to ensure our services carry on with as little disruption as possible.

Most of our staff are working from home for the time being. However, our key workers and essential workers are still carrying out their critical work.

This includes visiting sites and collecting data during significant environmental incidents. And dealing with issues of that are of the highest environmental and public risk.

We are continuously reviewing the situation and committed to delivering safe services, prioritising the health and safety of our staff, their families and the wider community.

While we are adapting to different ways of working and supporting our staff with this, we are mindful that service capacity may be affected. Teams are currently working to get in touch with their stakeholders to let them know about any changes that may affect them.

We will update this page with news on how our services have been affected and post updates on our Facebook page and our Twitter account.

Visiting our sites

To help control the spread of the coronavirus we have closed all our:

  • visitor centres
  • cafes
  • car parks
  • play areas
  • toilets
  • mountain bike trails - no maintenance will be carried out on our mountain bike trails until further notice.

Welsh Government have also passed emergency legislation. This requires us, Local Authorities, National Parks and the National Trust to close sites or paths that are: 

  • liable to large numbers of people congregating or being in close proximity to each other, or
  • the use of which otherwise poses a high risk to the incidence or spread of infection in its area with the coronavirus. 

To see access land and Rights of Way closed under the Welsh Government's coronavirus emergency regulations, please visit the relevant National Park Authority or local authority websites.

Where possible, signage will also be put on site to inform members of the public about the closures.

Our library at Maes y Ffynnon is also closed to the public.

Stay active, stay healthy, stay local

While many of our popular sites have had to close, exercise, fresh air and sunlight will help with your wellbeing, stress levels and sleep.

Provided you, or someone in your household, are not displaying symptoms of coronavirus, current advice is that it is safe for you to go outside for exercise once a day, so long as you:

  • do not travel
  • go alone or with members of your household and keep two metes apart at all times
  • be vigilant with hand washing and hygiene
  • don't undertake new or risky activities
  • follow the countryside code

Event cancellations

Some organisations host events at our sites. We do not take part in the organisation of these events so we are not able to help with updates on these.

Please contact the event organiser directly if you would like to know if there are changes to an event you are attending.

Our work as a regulator

During the current crisis, our work to champion the Welsh environment remains. We will continue to help and support regulated operators and individuals to understand and comply with environmental regulations through these challenging times.

We expect businesses and individuals to continue to comply with environmental regulations and their permit conditions. This includes developing contingency plans and putting appropriate measures in place to ensure that all reasonable actions are taken to foresee and mitigate any potential issues.

If a regulated business or individual is facing problems complying with their permit conditions as a direct result of the exceptional circumstances we currently face, then they should:

  • Inform us of the issues and how they are being managed as early as possible.
  • Prioritise compliance with those permit conditions that directly protect the environment.
  • Take all practicable alternative measures to prevent and minimise any harm to the environment or risks to public health.
  • Keep clear and comprehensive records of the decision made and actions taken.

If regulated business and individuals follow these guidelines we will take a proportionate and reasonable approach to how we assess compliance during this public health emergency.  We will work with operators to find the best solutions to safeguarding the environment and helping businesses adapt in these challenging circumstances.

We will continue to check and assess compliance in a number of ways including phone calls, focused visits to priority sites and using a range of alternative methods for gathering intelligence.

Spreading waste milk on agricultural land

A regulatory decision to relax existing rules for the spreading of waste milk on agricultural land

We understand some of the difficulties in supply chain and markets for milk at the moment. Therefore, we have put in place a temporary measure to relax the usual rules that allow some farms to spread waste milk.

This is only if milk cannot be collected or stored safely, and all options for use have been exhausted. Spreading conditions will apply to reduce the risk of causing a pollution. These conditions must be complied with.

It will also only be allowed if there is a low risk of causing pollution. i.e. not steeply sloping and have a cover of vegetation. There are other constraints that will also need to be considered.

To spread waste milk on your land you will need to apply for a U10 exemption, which we have amended in light of the current situation, and demonstrate that you can meet the specific criteria to protect the environment.

To find out more about the changes to the U10 exemption, please contact enquiries@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk or call 03000 65 3000.

How to process application forms

Our staff from across the organisation are working from home wherever possible. This means we can't accept paper application forms at this time.

You will be able to submit forms electronically and if required you can make payments via BACS. 

Whilst we hope to keep disruption to a minimum, please be aware there may be a longer processing time while we adapt to new ways of working.

Water abstraction returns

We will delay requesting water abstraction returns for the period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 until further notice. 

This will be reviewed on a regular basis and we will contact licence holders directly to request returns when we are able to accept them again.

You should keep recording data as detailed in your licence if it is safe to do so and following the latest social distancing guidance from the government.

If you have already sent your data to us there will be a delay with us processing your returns. 

Environmental permitting consultations 

We will continue to advertise and consult on permit applications as normal. The timing of each consultation is determined by the legislation, once an application is made.

For high public interest applications we will consider if we need to change how we consult people. This will be arranged on a case by case basis and communicated on through our normal channels.

If you want to submit a response to a consultation during this time please email permittingconsultations@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk.

Species licensing

Any survey work you had planned as part of a species licence application should only be undertaken where absolutely necessary following the social distancing guidelines from the government.

If you can’t work from home you should check the latest guidance provided by environmental businesses such as the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the RSPB or the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).

Surveys submitted in support of a licence application should normally be no less than two years old. As it may not be possible to update your surveys this season, this year we will extend this and accept surveys from the last three years.

You should complete your survey at the first available and appropriate opportunity once restrictions are lifted. 

If you have further question you can contact our species team via email on trwyddedrhywogaeth@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk.

Waste permitting

Due to office closures we are unable to provide copy cards at this time.

Your reference number can be used as proof of your registration.

Our forestry operations

We're continuing with our harvesting operations to assist the supply of wood products. Helping to sustain essential services in the health, food and energy sectors.

All of our forestry sites are subject to strict checks to ensure that we are operating within current Government guidelines on coronavirus and social distancing measures

We remain in close contact with Public Health Wales and will be reviewing our procedures daily in order to keep our staff, contractors, customers and partners safe.

Felling licence applications and Environment Impact Screening 

We are processing felling licence applications and Environment Impact Screening Requests as normal. We aim to complete these in the standard timescales. If there are delays with your application we will keep you informed and may request additional time to make our determination.

We are not carrying out site visits for these applications unless there is an essential reason i.e. a significant environmental concern. If a site visit is required, we will follow the Government guidance on social distancing. We would not expect to meet site managers, but we will contact them in advance to ensure we can conduct it safely.

Our licensing staff are working from home and can be contacted via email on fellinglicence@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk.

Development Planning Advice Service

  • We are still processing planning consultations but we may take longer to provide advice and may exceed our normal published service standards.
  • We are focussing on delivering our statutory service, and are unlikely to be able to provide advice as part of our for Discretionary Planning Advice.
  • If you’re a Local Planning Authority and expect our advice on an application related to coronavirus please let us know.
  • As we can’t meet people face to face or undertake normal site visits, please contact us via email and send any consultations via email and not by post.

For projects in Pembrokeshire, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Carmarthenshire, Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend please email swplanning@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk.

For projects in Cardiff, Newport, Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Cynon Tâf, Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Brecon Beacons National Park, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil please email southeastplanning@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk.

For projects in Gwynedd, Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Wrexham, Powys, Ceredigion, Snowdonia National Park please email northplanning@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk.

Increasing burial capacity

If you manage a cemetery and need to increase burial capacity please discuss this with us before you begin any work

We will be able provide advice on the suitability of the site and work with you to prevent or limit groundwater pollution.

All potential sites will need to be environmentally screened and risk assessed. Detailed guidance on groundwater protection and producing a risk assessment can be found on the Gov.uk website:

Changes to our analytical service 

Recent events have significantly impacted our staffing levels within our analytical services teams. We are making every effort to meet our analytical commitments, but these may be affected at this time.

We continue to attempt to deliver all existing and agreed analysis. To be able to do this, we have decided to decline any new commercial work for the next four weeks, from 20 March 2020.

This decision hasn’t been taken lightly but we need to ensure we offer realistic expectations to our customers. We appreciate that this may cause you disruption. We apologise and thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding in these difficult times.

If you have concerns then please email our analytical services. Our usual response times could be impacted by current events.

Angling 

Welsh Government allow angling in Wales as part of your daily exercise.

You should:

You should not travel to Wales from England for the purpose of angling.

If you have any concerns over illegal fishing please report this to us on 0300 065 3000 so it can be investigated.

Dee conservancy

Notice to mariners:

  • The Harbour Master and Dee Conservancy Officer will work from home.
  • The Marine Engineer will work with the Harbour Master to carry out essential work only.

Education resources  

If you're looking for some learning resources and activities to do while the schools are closed, take a look at our online learning resources.

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