25 February 2016
Article by Elfyn Henderson, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
The Assembly will vote on secondary legislation (PDF 509KB) on 1 March 2016 that will simplify the process for getting consent to carry out construction works near main rivers or sea defences.
The proposed Regulations will extend the Environmental Permitting regime to cover flood defence consents. They will also exempt some low risk activities from the need for a permit.
Main rivers are watercourses as defined on a main river map.
Flood defence consents are currently needed for activities like:
- Constructing outfalls;
- Constructing and repairing bridges;
- Works to prevent river bank erosion and loss of land;
- Providing river crossings for utilities; and
- Culverting watercourses.
Consents are required under a range of different Acts and bylaws; each regime having different charges, application times and appeal mechanisms. The Regulations will allow for a single permit to be issued for activities that currently require separate permits under more than one scheme.
The Regulations have been made on a joint Wales and England basis and need to be approved by the Assembly and the UK Parliament respectively to take effect in the two countries.
Both the Welsh and UK Governments say the changes will create a simpler, more transparent system, and cut red tape. They also say the new approach will allow regulators to focus resources on higher risk activities. The regulator in Wales is Natural Resources Wales; in England it is the Environment Agency.
The Welsh Government has produced an Explanatory Memorandum (PDF 704KB) to accompany the Regulations.
The full title of the Regulations is: The Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) (Amendment) (No2) Regulations 2016 (PDF 509KM)