Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Environment and Sustainability Committee

The communication and working arrangements between the Welsh government and UK ministers is testament to the maturity of devolution, the minister for environment and sustainability told AMs on 28 November 2012.

Committee chair Dafydd Elis-Thomas questioned the relationship whilst discussing the early draft of the Natural Resources Body for Wales (Functions) Order 2012.

The order will transfer functions from three existing bodies to one organisation managing Wales' natural resources, Natural Resources Wales.

As the order is dependant on approval from the UK government, the minister was asked whether he foresaw any problems with receiving that support.

"Discussions are going very well and I anticipate the discussions continuing to be fruitful and positive," John Griffiths AM explained.

"The UK government is looking at arrangements with regards to its own bodies and they are keen to learn from our experience, in an area where Wales is leading the way," he added.

The minister also outlined the government's marine program, which is concentrating on four elements of policy consisting of marine planning, implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, marine nature conservation and marine licensing.

Conservative AM Antoinette Sandbach raised concerns that the marine consensus unit, which currently receives a lot of praise, was being moved into the new body.

Witnesses had warned committee members in previous evidence sessions that there was a danger the move could result in a loss staff and expertise.

Mr Griffiths admitted that the merger of three bodies would create issues in terms of management for the Welsh government and Natural Resources Wales, but he stressed that those particular concerns would be dealt with by the new body.

It has been claimed the merger of the Forestry Commission, Countryside Council for Wales and the Environment Agency could save up to £158m over 10 years.

Read this in Welsh.

Environment and Sustainability Committee membership

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