Last updated 9 April 2020
The affect of the coronavirus pandemic has impacted us all. We are working across the organisation to adapt to temporary working practices and ensure that our services carry on with as little disruption as possible.
We continuously review the situation to make the best decisions on the way we run our operations. We are committed to delivering safe services and prioritising the health and safety of our staff, their families and the wider community. To help slow the spread of coronavirus, most of our staff are working from home for the time being. However, our key workers and essential workers are still carrying out their critical work.
While we are adapting to different ways of working and supporting our staff with this, we are mindful that service capacity may be affected.
Our teams are currently working to get in touch with their stakeholders to let them know about changes to their services. We would like to thank you for your patience during this time.
We will continue to update the website, so please check this page for news on how we are managing our services during the coronavirus outbreak.
During the current crisis, our work to champion the Welsh environment remains. We will continue to help and support regulated operators and individuals to understand and comply with environmental regulations through these challenging times.
We expect businesses and individuals to continue to comply with environmental regulations and their permit conditions. This includes developing contingency plans and putting appropriate measures in place to ensure that all reasonable actions are taken to foresee and mitigate any potential issues.
If a regulated business or individual is facing problems complying with their permit conditions as a direct result of the exceptional circumstances we currently face, then they should:
- Inform us of the issues and how they are being managed as early as possible.
- Prioritise compliance with those permit conditions that directly protect the environment.
- Take all practicable alternative measures to prevent and minimise any harm to the environment or risks to public health.
- Keep clear and comprehensive records of the decision made and actions taken.
If regulated business and individuals follow these guidelines we will take a proportionate and reasonable approach to how we assess compliance during this public health emergency. We will work with operators to find the best solutions to safeguarding the environment and helping businesses adapt in these challenging circumstances.
We will continue to check and assess compliance in a number of ways including phone calls, focused visits to priority sites and using a range of alternative methods for gathering intelligence.
Visiting our sites
In order to control the spread of the coronavirus we have taken the decision to close all our:
- visitor centres
- car parks
- play areas
- mountain bike trails - no maintenance will be carried out on our mountain bike trails until further notice.
Welsh Government have also passed emergency legislation. This requires us, Local Authorities, National Parks and the National Trust to close sites or paths that are:
- liable to large numbers of people congregating or being in close proximity to each other, or
- the use of which otherwise poses a high risk to the incidence or spread of infection in its area with the coronavirus.
To see access land and Rights of Way closed under the Welsh Government's coronavirus emergency regulations, please visit the relevant National Park Authority or local authority websites.
Where possible, signage will also be put on site to inform members of the public about the closures.
Stay active, stay healthy, stay local
While many of our popular sites have had to close, exercise, fresh air and sunlight will help with your wellbeing, stress levels and sleep.
Provided you, or someone in your household, are not displaying symptoms of coronavirus, current advice is that it is safe for you to go outside for exercise once a day, so long as you:
- do not travel
- go alone or with members of your household and keep two metes apart at all times
- be vigilant with hand washing and hygiene
- don't undertake new or risky activities
- follow the countryside code
Some organisations host events at our sites. We do not take part in the organisation of these events so we are not able to help with updates on these.
Please contact the event organiser directly if you would like to know if there are changes to an event you are attending.
Processing application forms
Our staff from across the organisation are working from home wherever possible.
This means we can't accept paper application forms at this time. You will be able to submit forms electronically and if required you can make payments via BACS.
- If you have problems accessing any permitting application forms, please email email@example.com.
- If you have problems accessing any other forms please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whilst we hope to keep disruption to a minimum, please be aware there may be a longer processing time while we adapt to new ways of working.
Environmental permitting consultations
We will continue to advertise and consult on permit applications as normal. The timing of each consultation is determined by the legislation, once an application is made.
For high public interest applications we will consider if we need to change how we consult people. This will be arranged on a case by case basis and communicated on through our normal channels.
If you want to submit a response to a consultation during this time please email email@example.com.
Any survey work you had planned as part of a species licence application should only be undertaken where absolutely necessary following the latest social distancing guidelines from the government.
If you can’t work from home you should check the latest guidance provided by environmental businesses such as the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the RSPB or the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).
Surveys submitted in support of a licence application should normally be no less than two years old. As it may not be possible to update your surveys this season, this year we will extend this and accept surveys from the last three years.
You should complete your survey at the first available and appropriate opportunity once restrictions are lifted.
Our forestry operations
We're continuing with our harvesting operations to assist the supply of wood products. Helping to sustain essential services in the health, food and energy sectors.
All of our forestry sites are subject to strict checks to ensure that we are operating within current Government guidelines on coronavirus and social distancing measures.
We remain in close contact with Public Health Wales and will be reviewing our procedures daily in order to keep our staff, contractors, customers and partners safe.
Felling licence applications and Environment Impact Screening
We are processing felling licence applications and Environment Impact Screening Requests as normal. We aim to complete these in the standard timescales. If there are delays with your application we will keep you informed and may request additional time to make our determination.
We are not carrying out site visits for these applications unless there is an essential reason i.e. a significant environmental concern. If a site visit is required, we will follow the Government guidance on social distancing. We would not expect to meet site managers, but we will contact them in advance to ensure we can conduct it safely.
Our licensing staff are working from home and can be contacted via email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Spreading of waste milk on agricultural land
A regulatory decision to relax existing rules for the spreading of waste milk on agricultural land
We understand some of the difficulties in supply chain and markets for milk at the moment. Therefore, we have put in place a temporary measure to relax the usual rules that allow some farms to spread waste milk.
This is only if milk cannot be collected or stored safely, and all options for use have been exhausted. Spreading conditions will apply to reduce the risk of causing a pollution. These conditions must be complied with.
It will also only be allowed if there is a low risk of causing pollution. i.e. not steeply sloping and have a cover of vegetation. There are other constraints that will also need to be considered.
To spread waste milk on your land you will need to apply for a U10 exemption, which we have amended in light of the current situation, and demonstrate that you can meet the specific criteria to protect the environment.
To find out more about the changes to the U10 exemption, please contact email@example.com or call 03000 65 3000
Changes to our analytical service
Recent events have significantly impacted our staffing levels within our analytical services teams. We are making every effort to meet our analytical commitments, but these may be affected at this time.
We continue to attempt to deliver all existing and agreed analysis. To be able to do this, we have decided to decline any new commercial work for the next four weeks, from 20 March 2020.
This decision hasn’t been taken lightly but we need to ensure we offer realistic expectations to our customers. We appreciate that this may cause you disruption. We apologise and thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding in these difficult times.
We are reviewing our Business Continuity Plans daily and will keep this page updated with any changes.
If you have concerns then please email our analytical services in the first instance. Our usual response times could be impacted by current events.
The library at Maes y Ffynnon is closed to the public.
- The Harbour Master and Dee Conservancy Officer will work from home.
- The Marine Engineer will work with the Harbour Master to carry out essential work only.
If you're looking for some learning resources and activities to do while the schools are closed, take a look at our online learning resources.