Section 11 - Area Statements
70.Section 11 requires NRW to facilitate the implementation of the national natural resources policy by preparing, publishing and implementing ‘area statements’. Subsection (4) requires that NRW must ensure that every area of Wales is covered by one or more area statements but that the number, siting, and geographical extent of the areas in relation to which statements are produced is determined by it, in accordance with what they consider to be most appropriate for facilitating the implementation of the policy.
71.When exercising any functions, NRW will be guided by its general duties. Of particular relevance to this section will be its general purpose as set out in article 4 of the Natural Resources Body for Wales (Establishment) Order 2012 (as replaced by section 5(2) of this Act). This requires NRW to apply the principles of sustainable management of natural resources when exercising functions in relation to area statements. Subsection (2) clarifies subsection (1) to confirm that the statements may also be used by NRW for any other reason to assist in the exercise of any of their functions. For example, NRW may choose to use an area statement to outline how they will deliver their other functions relevant to that area, in addition to those functions related to the implementation of the national policy.
72.The form and content of the area statements are not prescribed; this is left to NRW to decide. However, subsection (3)(a)-(d) contains matters in general terms that must be included within each area statement they produce.
73.Paragraph (a)(i), (ii) and (iii) requires each area statement to provide an explanation of why a statement has been prepared for an area by including information on the natural resources within that area and the benefits they provide and by identifying priorities, risks and opportunities for the sustainable management of natural resources, which need to be addressed in that area.
74.Paragraph (b) requires NRW to include within an area statement how it has applied the principles of sustainable management of natural resources (as provided in section 4) in the preparation of an area statement. Paragraph (c) requires NRW to provide information on how it proposes to deliver its functions in that area to address the priorities, risks and opportunities identified in paragraph (a)(iii) and how it will apply the principles of sustainable management in doing so.
75.Paragraph (d) requires NRW to identify the public bodies, which it considers may be able to assist in relation to the identified priorities, risks and opportunities.
76.To assist NRW in complying with its obligation to produce and implement area statements, section 14 of this Act provides NRW with power to require certain bodies (listed as ‘public bodies’ in section 10 of this Act) to provide it with information and other assistance.
77.Subsection (4) requires NRW to ensure that every area of Wales is covered by one or more area statements.
78.Subsection (5) requires NRW to take all reasonable steps to implement an area statement. They must also seek to promote implementation of the area statement by other persons. Persons who are listed as being a ‘public body’ in section 10 of this Act are under a duty to provide such assistance to NRW as it requires in exercising functions under this section (see section 14). Those persons are also subject to the Welsh Ministers’ power of direction under section 12, and must have regard to guidance issued to them pursuant to section 13.
79.Subsection (6) makes provision designed to ensure that area statements produced under subsection (1) continue to be effective in facilitating the implementation of the national policy. NRW is required to keep the statements under review, and may revise them at any time.
80.Subsection (7) requires NRW to consider rationalising the number of plans, strategies or other similar documents that operate in relation to the area to be covered by any given area statement. Before publishing a statement, NRW must consider whether:
any existing plan, strategy or other similar document (including another area statement) should be included within the statement. For example, NRW may seek to rationalise other plans that they prepare by incorporating them within an area statement; or
an area statement should be included within another plan, strategy or other similar document.