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Fears for future of 1,850 environmental jobs in Wales

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THERE are fears over the future of 1,850 jobs if three environmental bodies are replaced with a new single organisation serving the whole of Wales.

The National Assembly is currently looking at the possibilities of replacing Environment Agency Wales (EAW), Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) and FCW (Forestry Commission Wales) – organisations which all deal with the environment – with one new body, as yet un-named.

The main reason is to save on costs and to avoid any unnecessary duplication.

At present the EAW employs 1,000 people at its Cardiff HQ as well as other offices at Bangor, Gwynedd, and Neath.

CCW has about 500 staff with its HQ at Penrhosgarnedd, Bangor, and offices at Parc Menai in Bangor, Dolgellau, Mold, Newtown, Aberystwyth and Llandrindod, Abergavenny, Cardiff, Pembroke Dock, Llandeilo and Swansea.

FCW, with offices at Ruthin and Aberystwyth, employs 350 people and is accountable to the Welsh Assembly to manage woodlands and to “increase their value to society and the environment.”

However, environment campaigner and long-time critic of the three organisations, Marian Rees, of Tal-y-llyn, Gwynedd, welcomed any moves towards a “bonfire of the quangos”.

She said: “They cost too much money to run and they could do with lots fewer people working for them.

“A lot of the work they do is being doubled which is a waste of money”,

Ms Rees has campaigned to stop the CCW from cutting down pine trees at Dolau Cau on the Minffordd path to Cader Idris, Dolgellau.

She said: “The CCW have started cutting down pine trees because they are not native.

“These trees were planted on the Idris Estate to stop erosion of the rock and to create bio-diversity.”

She has also campaigned against the CCW building what she described as a “white elephant café” on the footholds of Cader Idris, near Tal-y-llyn.

She said: “For the sake of Wales, it is time for the CCW to go so that a degree of common sense can once more be applied to environmental matters – so important to the Welsh economy – and so that their inflated salaries can be put to things that improve the landscape rather than destroy it.”

“They all spend a lot of time talking over cups of tea.

“Hopefully, now, they will cut down on that time and co-operate more as one organisation.

“Having three similar bodies is a waste of time and resources.

“They spend too much time treading on each other’s feet. The sad thing is that these bodies do not talk with people in the community.”

Welsh Assembly officials are now working out the benefits in effectiveness and efficiencies – and costs – of having one body.

A final decision will be made by the incoming Assembly.

Because the Assembly is not in session during the pre-election period, none of the organisations nor the Assembly itself wanted to comment.

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