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Consumer water champion to take up NRW chair

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The Welsh environmental world has a host of new faces to lead the big regulatory changes expected over the next few years

The Welsh government has appointed Diane McCrea as the new chair of Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

McCrea takes up the position on 1 December, replacing Peter Matthews. She has worked at the Consumer Council for Water for the past decade, as chair of the Wales committee and vice chair of the board.

The Welsh government had to readvertise the job in the summer after failing to find a suitable candidate. Dr Madeleine Havard, an environmental scientist and existing NRW board member, has been appointed deputy chair and board champion for equality and diversity. Other new board members are: Elizabeth Haywood, Karen Balmer, Howard Davies, Zoe Henderson and Chris Blake.

Emyr Roberts, chief executive of NRW, said: “On behalf of the staff of NRW, we look forward to working with the new chair and board members as we continue to drive forward the good work of the last two and a half years.”

The Wildlife Trusts Wales said it was particularly pleased to see Howard Davies, former Wildlife Trusts Wales co-ordinator and North Wales Wildlife Trust trustee, appointed to the board. The organisation has recently been criticised for its relationship with on-the-ground environmental organisations and NGOs.

Rachel Sharp, chief executive of the Wildlife Trusts Wales, said: “We note with interest that many of the appointments bring strengths from outside the environmental sector. We look forward to working with them on the key Welsh environmental priorities and together halting the loss of wildlife in Wales."

Meanwhile, Sophie Howe, currently deputy police and crime commissioner for south Wales, was appointed the first future generations commissioner. This role was created in the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act earlier this year, which gives public bodies stronger sustainable development duties.

The commissioner is responsible for advising and supporting public authorities in carrying out their new duties, and giving advice to ministers on climate change. Howe will be advised by a panel including the chair of NRW. She will not be fully independent, but will have the power to hold inquiries.

There will be a lot of change at NRW over the next few years as both the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act and the Welsh Environment Bill come into effect.

McCrea said she was looking forward to taking on the position of chair. “The role brings with it many opportunities to demonstrate how we as an organisation can work with partners to help manage Wales’s natural resources in a more proactive, sustainable way. Part of my role will also be to ensure that NRW meets the goals set out in the Well-being of Future Generations Act.”

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