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Our response to the coronavirus pandemic

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

Last updated 24 June 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. 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.

Environmental regulations

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.

We have published temporary regulatory decisions to help deal with issues arising directly from the coronavirus pandemic.

Visiting our woodlands and nature reserves

We have started to reopen some of the car parks at our woodlands and nature reserves.

Most of our walking and running trails are open, however the following facilities remain closed:

  • visitor centres
  • mountain bike trails
  • play areas
  • toilets
  • cafés

Check which car parks are open before planning your visit.

Welsh Government passed emergency legislation in March. 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 displayed at sites to inform members of the public about the closures.

Stay active, stay healthy, stay local

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

  • stay local
  • go alone, with members of your household or with members of one other household
  • keep two metres apart at all times
  • be vigilant with hand washing and hygiene
  • don't undertake new or risky activities
  • respect other visitors, the local community and the natural environment by following the countryside code

We also ask that you:

  • take your rubbish home
  • take the opportunity to explore quieter destinations
  • remember that facilities and car parks owned or managed by other organisations may not be open 

Read the latest government advice on exercising outdoors

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.

Guidance for land and site managers

We have been working with our partners to write guidance for managers of natural and outdoor cultural sites. This will help with preparations to open and operate sites as safely as possible when Welsh Government advises it is safe to do so.

The guidance is advisory and will be regularly updated in line with the latest Welsh Government advice, and as the evidence and our experience of coronavirus grows.

This is intended to complement the wider suite of information published by Welsh Government to help prepare for the easing of restrictions.

Check this page regularly for any updates.

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.

Forestry

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.

Financial support for our suppliers and tenants

Welsh Government have set up hardship relief measures for suppliers during the coronavirus pandemic.

We have reviewed the options available and developed a commercial activity policy note for our supplier and tenants. This explains what supplier relief is available from us and if any changes to existing agreements can be made.

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.

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.

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 have re-commenced the delivery of our normal Discretionary Planning Advice where resources allow, and there is no risk of adverse effect on our ability to deliver our statutory service.
  • Our availability to undertake a site visit will be determined on a case by case basis, and subject to an adequate risk-assessment. Requests for site-visits should be submitted by email.
  • Our staff are still working from home. Please submit any query or 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:

Analytical services

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.

Education resources

Dee conservancy

Regulatory decisions

We have published temporary regulatory decisions to help deal with issues arising directly from the coronavirus pandemic.

These will help minimise risks to the environment and human health where, for reasons beyond your control, compliance with certain regulatory requirements may not be possible due to coronavirus.

They also cover specific circumstances where we are relaxing normal regulatory requirements. This is to avoid increasing risks to the environment or human health during the particular circumstances of the coronavirus outbreak.

Each regulatory decision sets out when they apply and the conditions you must comply with. You must still comply with all of your other environmental regulatory requirements.

If you wish to use a coronavirus regulatory decision you must comply with both its:

  • specific conditions – including any requirements to notify us or get our approval to use it
  • requirements concerning pollution and harm to human health

If you do this, we will not normally take enforcement action against you.

Agriculture

Water abstraction

Waste management

Read our regulatory decisions for waste management:

  • signing waste documentation 
  • waste storage limits
  • packaging producer obligations
  • waste carrier copy cards
  • technical competence 

Monitoring and reporting

Read our regulatory decisions for monitoring and reporting:

  • monitoring and reporting emissions
  • noise monitoring

Species licensing

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