Section 8 – Duty to prepare and publish state of natural resources report
52.In order to assist persons in achieving the sustainable management of natural resources in relation to Wales, section 8 requires NRW to publish a ‘state of natural resources report’. This report will provide a source of evidence that will be available for any person concerned with natural resources in relation to Wales. It will be of assistance to any person applying the principles of sustainable management of natural resources; taking account of all relevant evidence is part of the principle set out in section 4(e).
53.The report must contain NRW’s assessment of the current condition of natural resources in relation to Wales. The report must also include NRW’s assessment of the extent to which sustainable management of those natural resources is being achieved. For example, the status of ecosystems to deliver multiple benefits and their assessment on whether their current status will be able to adapt to demands to ensure the long-term delivery of these multiple benefits.
54.The report must also include an assessment of biodiversity, in addition to information on the main trends that are affecting, or may affect natural resources and information on any areas where there may be insufficient information to enable an assessment.
55.When preparing a report under this section, NRW will be guided by its general duties. This includes 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), which requires NRW to apply the principles of sustainable management of natural resources when exercising its functions.
56.Subsection (3) requires NRW to publish the first report within four months of this subsection coming into force. This subsection comes into force at the end of the period of two months starting with the day the Bill receives Royal Assent (see section 88(2)(a)).
57.Subsection (4) requires NRW to publish a report before the end of the year preceding a year in which each subsequent ordinary general election of the National Assembly for Wales is to take place. Section 3 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 (as amended by section 1 of the Wales Act 2014) provides that an ordinary general election will take place in the fifth calendar year following that in which the previous ordinary general election was held. Following publication of the first state of natural resources report, the next ordinary general election will be due to take place in May 2021. The second state of natural resources report will therefore have to be published before the end of the calendar year 2020, with subsequent reports published every five years.
58.Subsection (5) requires NRW to publish a draft version of the state of natural resources report before the end of the calendar year before the year in which the final report must be published under subsection (4). The draft of the second state of natural resources report will therefore have to be published before the end of the calendar year 2019. This requirement applies to each cycle of the publication of the state of natural resources reports, except for the publication of the first report under subsection (3).
59.The Welsh Ministers must have regard to the latest report when they are preparing a national natural resources policy (section 9(9)).