Byline: ANTONY STONE email@example.com
A SWATHE of Welsh public bodies disappeared today as a single new environmental champion with sweeping powers replaced them.
From today The Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency Wales and the Forestry Commission in Wales have all been merged into a new organisation called Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
Natural Resources Wales is one of the first public bodies in the world able to take in such a wide sweep of concerns.
Its responsibilities will cover a huge range of areas from regulating nuclear power stations to issuing recreational fishing licences.
Its creation has provoked significant controversy since it was approved in November 2011, amid fears that the creation of the huge body would damage transparency and weaken the range of voices in Wales with responsibility for environmental concerns. But the Welsh Government insisted today that the new body was the most efficient solution for Wales.
Alun Davies, Minister for Natural Resources in the Welsh Government, said: "The natural environment really is crucial to our economy here in Wales so it is vital that it is managed as effectively and efficiently as possible.
"The Welsh Government has created Natural Resources Wales because we believe one body will result in a more streamlined way of working and will ensure more effective delivery and improved value for money.
"The body really does have a crucial role to play and I wish Natural Resources Wales every success in its work to deliver better outcomes for Welsh people, Welsh businesses and our unique Welsh environment."
Emyr Roberts, chief executive of the new organisation, believes NRW will allow Wales to take a fresh approach to the challenges it faces.
"We will also begin to re-shape the work we do with a fresh approach and new direction - to make the environment do more for the people, economy and wildlife of Wales," he said.
The new body is intended to provide a better service for people and businesses, who will now deal with one single body rather than three.
It immediately becomes the largest sponsored public body in Wales, taking over the powers of the bodies it replaced and some of those of Welsh Government as well.
Peter Matthews, chairman of the new organisation, added: "We face many challenges - for our communities, our economy and our environment.
I believe that the natural resources we have in Wales …