Agenda item

Partnership working

(a)        Gwent Green Grid Partnership

(b)        Living Levels Partnership

(c)        Wye Valley AONB


The Secretary outlined the current situation regarding partnership working as set out in his report, including;

(a) The access proposals connected with The Gwent Green Grid Partnership a collaborative project funded through Welsh Government’s RDP ENRaW programme running to March 2023. The programme has five strands, including access.

A Regional Countryside Access Officer, hosted by MCC, will shortly be appointed to co-ordinate the delivery of the access outputs and the forum will be invited to be represented on a Gwent Access Forum to help develop a regional access plan. Torfaen CBC are hosting a Trainee Ranger Coordinator and five training spaces are being funded across Gwent as part of the scheme.

(b) The Living Levels NLHF funded core programme draws to a close in terms of implementation at end of March 2022.  The core partners are committed to maintaining the partnership and have commissioned the development of a legacy plan. The Gwent Levels Working Group organised by Welsh Government has also identified continuation / a successor to the partnerships as one of its priorities.

The current programme has delivered considerable access improvements and much improved visitor infrastructure across the Gwent Levels with more to be completed by March 2022. The final transition plan and draft legacy plan are due to be considered by the Living Levels Partner Board and after that partner’s formal commitment will be sought to a 18 month transition phase to seek longer term sustainable funding and continue to engage with local communities and stakeholders.

(c) In the Wye Valley the use and condition of the countryside access network within the AONB, in particular the unclassified county road (UCR) network, remains a cause of community concern.  These issues are complex and relate both to the condition of these routes, generally in very poor condition often linked to water erosion /run off issues from surrounding land, and their use including legal motorised use. 

The recent “Wye Villages Study” consultation had highlighted the value of recreational routes within the Wye Valley and public concerns over maintenance and access for people of all ages and abilities.

The Countryside Access Improvement Plan includes relevant statements of action and recent discussions with the AONB unit have reaffirmed that a more comprehensive approach would be desirable. Such an approach would look at the UCR’s and the linked public rights of way network, to undertake a prioritisation exercise and a facilitated stakeholder consultation, including users, landowners communities and other stakeholders, to develop an inclusive user-strategy for all lower Wye UCRs.

This approach would require dedicated resources, which are not currently in place. 

At this stage the forum’s support in principle was sought, as that would aid the process of identifying resources to carry it out. Members discussed the proposal. IB asked about the approach to traffic regulation orders and raised the difficulties of just addressing one route at a time. DF indicated his support for a strategic and prioritised approach. PM asked for clarity around the request to the LAF.


Agreed The LAF supports in principle the proposed approach to develop an inclusive user-strategy for all lower Wye UCRs and linked public rights of way.