An MP has called for a review into Natural Resources Wales (NRW) following the organisation’s handling of an environmental permit in Cwmfelinfach and recent revelations about unlawful timber sales.
Chris Evans, Member of Parliament for Islwyn, called for the review in a letter to Assembly Member Leslie Griffiths, the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs.
Mr Evans has previously criticised a decision by NRW not to uphold a decision to refuse an environmental permit for a waste transfer facility at Nine Mile Point Industrial Estate in Cwmfelinfach citing public health concerns.
Concerns continue in the village as residents fear emissions from the facility operated by Hazrem Environmental become trapped in the valley due to a rare weather phenomenon known as temperature inversion.
In a statement, Mr Evans said: “I am deeply concerned about the functioning of Natural Resources Wales and I do not have confidence in its ability to fulfil its duties to the public. The responsibility to protect our natural environment and air quality is vitally important and it simply cannot be left in the wrong hands.
“I believe Natural Resources Wales have failed my constituents on a number of occasions, particularly over the Nine Mile Point development in Cwmfelinfach, issues in Crosskeys, and elsewhere.
“At this point a review into the conduct and operation of Natural Resources Wales would identify areas where reforms could be made to improve public trust in the organisation and its ability to fulfil its important role.
“I have written to Lesley Griffiths in the hope that she and her colleagues in Welsh Government can push for this much-needed review.”
The organisation has come under fire from the former Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas, who accused it of selling publicly-owned timber unlawfully.
Mr Thomas said he found no evidence NRW was selling timber to three companies at market value, and considered some of the deals “were not entered into lawfully”.
The criticism prompted NRW’s chair, Diane McCrea, to resign in July.
A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: “Natural Resources Wales plays a vital role in protecting and enhancing the environment in Wales.
“We continue to work closely with NRW to support the action they are taking to strengthen governance.”