New natural resource body to launch in Wales
A new single body will be set up to manage Wales' natural resources following an eight week consultation.
The body, which will become fully operational on April 1st 2013, will replace the Environment Agency Wales, the Countryside Council for Wales and the Forestry Commission for Wales.
The departments' duties will be merged in an attempt to streamline processes and to save funding. It has been estimated that over ten years the new body could deliver up to £158m in benefits before costs.
The consultation which aims to gather views and opinion will run until October 5th 2012 and the body will be named in the autumn.
The discussions will focus on issues such as natural beauty, conservation, access, protection of historic landscape and forestry. Later stages of the consultation will deal with legal and working arrangements including cross-border issues and emergency response.
Environment minister John Griffiths said: "The new body must maintain the crucial work of three existing bodies in protecting Wales' natural environment, maintaining its cultural and historic landscape and ensuring access to its countryside and coast. Importantly, it also needs to develop to meet the challenges of the future.
"I want to ensure that the new body has clear duties and powers necessary to deliver for Wales. This additional consultation will provide us with further views to shape the new body and I would urge those parties with an interest to feed into the process. "