Section 9 – Duty to prepare, publish and implement natural resources policy
60.This section requires the Welsh Ministers to prepare, publish, implement and review a ‘national natural resources policy’ setting out their policies that will contribute to the sustainable management of natural resources (see section 3).
61.Subsection (2) requires the Welsh Ministers to set out in the policy what they consider to be the key priorities, risks and opportunities for the sustainable management of natural resources. Subsection (9) requires that the Welsh Ministers in preparing and revising the policy must have regard to the latest ‘state of natural resources report’. In addition, the Welsh Ministers must apply the principles of sustainable management of natural resources when preparing or revising a ‘national natural resources policy’ (subsection (8)).
62.The policy must also include a summary of any consultations undertaken in its preparation and any representations received as a result of the consultations.
63.Subsection (2) also requires that the Welsh Ministers must include in the policy what they consider needs to be done in relation to climate change and biodiversity.
64.Subsection (4) requires the Welsh Ministers must also take all reasonable steps to implement the policy and also to encourage the implementation of the policy by other parties. In implementing the policy the Welsh Ministers must apply the principles of sustainable management of natural resources (see subsection (8)).
65.The policy is to be published and reviewed in accordance with the timings provided in this section. The first ‘national natural resources policy’ must be published within 10 months of this section coming into force. This section comes into force at the end of the period of two months starting with the day the Act receives Royal Assent (see section 88(2)(a)).
66.The policy is an enduring document, in that the published policy will continue to apply unless and until a revised policy is published following a review. The Welsh Ministers may review the policy at any time but must review it following a general election of the National Assembly for Wales. The requirement to review following a general election applies whether it is an ordinary general election (under section 3 of the Government of Wales Act 2006) or an extraordinary election (under section 5 of that Act). Following a review, the Welsh Ministers may choose to continue with the existing policy, or they can revise the policy as they see fit. If the policy is revised, the policy as revised must then be published (see subsection (7)).