Wales

Elis-Thomas urges debates on Wales water and Vyrnwy

A senior Plaid Cymru AM says Wales needs to examine how it can benefit more fully from water, one of its richest natural resources.

Dafydd Elis-Thomas says discussion is needed as the UK government is to publish its White Paper on water.

The former Plaid leader also wants a debate on the sale of the the huge Lake Vyrnwy estate in Powys, which includes a large reservoir.

A consultation is being carried out into the sale of Vyrnwy.

Lord Elis-Thomas told BBC Wales' Taro Naw programme, shown on S4C, that now was the time to examine the future of the estate, which includes 12,000 acres of farmland and 5,000 acres of forestry, and is described as the largest in living memory in Wales or England.

He said: "I don't want devolution for devolution's sake, but where there is a clear argument where there could be benefit to Wales from better management of its resources then we need to have that discussion".

The Plaid AM for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, who is also chair of the assembly's environment and sustainability committee, said: "I hope that following the report and our response to the White Paper on water when that comes out, we can have a comprehensive public debate on this and see exactly what we can do legally with our current powers and also what we can do if we need further powers."

He has previously said he did not think the local community had been consulted effectively about the potential change in the way the estate is managed.

Tenant farmer Brian Ellis told the programme he "doesn't have a clue" what is going on and called for more local consultation.

Severn Trent, which has named United Utilities and RSPB Cymru as preferred bidders to develop the site, said it was aware of local opinions and had held consultation days to answer any questions.

Severn Trent said the process had been slow to ensure that the correct decision was made, and that the lease goes to the bidders it believes will be the best for the community, environment and the development of the estate.

'Protect poorer households'

The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) is conducting a three-month consultation with the Welsh Government, historical monuments agency Cadw, local authorities, Snowdonia National Park Authority and the Environment Agency for specialist information as part of its statutory duty.

The consultation is not public but anyone with issues to raise should contact one of the consulted organisations.

Image caption The sale of Vyrnwy has been described as the largest in living memory in England and Wales

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is due to publish a White Paper by December amid plans to "reform the water industry to enhance competition, improve conservation and to protect poorer households".

Millionaire businessman Rhys Jones had hoped to buy the Lake Vyrnwy estate lease to create jobs in the area.

He tells Taro Naw: "We don't have oil, no gas, nothing else and we have to be more clever about what we're trying to do with this.

"There's a duty on the water boards to bring something back to the communities - not turn the places into reserves just to collect water."

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