LETTER: Redwood and rural Wales Unsustainable Welsh course

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The Independent Online
IN REPLY to the question posed (Letters, 21 May) - whether the Countryside Council for Wales's statutory remit had increased in line with its staff numbers - the facts are these:

1 The Government decided, without consultation, to dismember the Nature Conservancy Council and set up integrated agencies in Wales and Scotland. The Government was informed of the increased costs this would entail. It pledged to meet these.

2 The 90 staff inherited by CCW were almost all field staff, supported by administrative sys-tems based in England. The Government had the option of CCW buying in from English Nature specialist personnel and finance services, as an alternative to setting up an independent administrative structure for CCW. The Government refused this option.

3 The Government appointed an independent committee to advise on the number of staff needed. This advised a staff of 355, and this was accepted by the Welsh Office. John Redwood's plans are to reduce CCW's staff to 240.

4 Mr Redwood's plans for the CCW have to be seen in the context of other decisions he has taken that will damage the Welsh environment. Among these, he has refused to issue planning guidance in Wales, already available in England, for putting into practice the Government's plans for achieving sustainable development; unlike his counterparts in England and Scotland, he has refused to issue a rural White Paper; he has refused to set up a ministerial Advisory Group on Sustainable Development in Wales, to parallel the initiative taken by the Scottish Secretary.

Elfed Jones