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Natural Resources Wales Corporate Plan 2023-30

Stuart France

Active member
NRW has just published a teaser for its eventual business plan in the form of some bi-lingual PowerPoint slides (attached below). This is the public body that has just shut down the CAL mine access scheme and quietly walked off the job of chairing/funding the two main cave management committees in Wales (i.e. OFD and Llangattock).

As you will see, there is no reference in it to NRW's statutory duties to promote the provision and improvement of opportunities for (a) access to and enjoyment of the countryside and open spaces; (b) open-air recreation; and (c) the study, understanding and enjoyment of the natural environment.

Its talk is more of social engineering, NRW's own carbon emissions, and re-wilding in the run up to 2030. The simplest way to achieve all of that is obviously to dispose of this organisation that seems bereft of vision to the point of inviting guidance from outsiders as to its actual purpose.


  • NRWcorporateplan2023-30slides.pdf
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Active member
Under G.Brown’s plan for Labour you will end up with about a dozen of these equally useless bodies, one for each of new “self governing” regions. It’s his cunning plan to break England up into ten Scotland/Wales’s to make everyone feel amazingly involved and deliriously happy with life. Each with their own mission, vision and Powerpoint hand cranker. And somehow be cheaper too.

You would have thought experience to date might have been chastening.


Well-known member
I see among the bullet points on slide 7 there's "involve and listen to others" and "build partnerships to maximise our collective impact" - someone give them a dictionary with the entry for "irony" highlighted...

Stuart France

Active member
I'm not sure about any future English confederacy, but it's already happened within NRW where they've broken themselves up into half a dozen or so regions of Wales which to all intents and purpose operate autonomously. So it means I would have to negotiate, for example, new separate underground access agreements with each of the NRW regions rather create just one agreement covering all of NRW and all of Wales. There is nobody now, apparently, we were told, who can sign off an all-Wales agreement for, say, visiting old mines on government forestry land.

Of course each new regional agreement would be on its own terms, which could differ. It's not as if each would be a carbon copy of the others which any sensible person would then agglomerate into a single national agreement.

Take, for example, forestry padlocks. NRW put out a tender a while back for a new standard padlock for all of its territory. But no, their people in South Wales deployed these new locks while the folks up North apparently won't on the grounds that their old locks were already fit for purpose and they see no good reason for faffing about. It's going to be the same with bats or anything else. One officer here will say this; one some place else will say that; and another with say the other. Needless to say, each region has been developing its own set of development plans.

The idea of having a corporate level plan seems incompatible with the regional blocks into which NRW has split itself, leaving aside the more serious issue that the organisation has absolutely no idea what it is for in the first place, unless the corporate plan is not to have a plan or coherent policy. I expect they hold lots of internal meetings facilitated by expensive business consultants to explore that very point.


Active member
Reading the prospectus, it's clear that the business consultants are heavily involved already. Very depressing...


Well-known member
I am a bit confused. 'Natural Resources' - I had an idea that it was some sort of extractive industry, mostly forestry.

Not entirely sure what it is now.


Stuart France

Active member
I know, I know. Even the NRW corporate logo looks like an artist's impression of a benzene molecule. What are they? Who are they? A fracking or mining company, farmers or foresters?

Before their Big Merger it was all so simple. The then forestry commission was about growing trees where little else would grow. There was a bit of a ding-dong going on at times between their tree-growing people and mountain bike trail and car park building people, but somehow they lived with each other. The then environment agency had a pretty obvious purpose too, they monitored rivers, built flood defences and prosecuted polluters. The then countryside council looked after NNRs and SSSIs, the allegedly dwindling populations of newts, bats and lower plants, and to be fair, they looked after cavers too so as to have a mutually beneficial relationship.

Then in stepped the Labour Government in Wales which dropped all these cats into the same bag on the suggestion, it seems, of academics. Ordinary people know that all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so concentrating a lot of power and influence into the hands of a single entity, and thus a few top people, usually does not have a happy ending, so not a thing government should ever do. Imagine, or perhaps best not, merging the Foreign Office with the MoD and the Treasury into some kind of war machine but trained on the natural world.

At another level the government came up with the laudable idea (or academics did) of "protecting future generations" legislation to outlaw itself and subsidiaries public bodies from doing things currently (like rack up lots of debt or build windfarms all over Wales) that have far-reaching negative consequences for others yet to be. Overarching all this are their policies about creating a happier Wales, a more prosperous Wales, a more Welsh Wales, and so forth, represented by the circular jigsaw graphic shown in the file attachment.

And so NRW is forever trying to present itself as mirroring that imaginary circular metaverse and thus indulging itself in academic games instead of simply getting on with more practical matters like facilitating responsible recreational outdoors access - which includes cave/mine access.


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Well-known member
Even the NRW corporate logo looks like an artist's impression of a benzene molecule. What are they? Who are they? A fracking or mining company, farmers or foresters?
Benzene is probably what they've all been sniffing, and emptied their brains of anything that might pass for a thought as a result.

Wayland Smith

Active member
Before their Big Merger it was all so simple.

as part of the merger many of the older people who had been there a long time and knew their jobs left or took redundancy.
They now seem to manage things with inexperienced people running from "guidelines."
The easiest answer to any question is "no!" They just do not have the knowledge or the authority to make a decision based on facts.


Well-known member
Tilhill manage a load of woodland for Forestry Commission as well as NRW (amongst others)

Stuart France

Active member
Tilhill is a sizeable private company which amongst other bidders looks for packages of work from NRW such as tree harvesting and replanting. In it's turn, NRW 'manages' the government forestry assets in Wales, which is most of its forests, on behalf of Welsh Ministers. Contractors like Tilhill are not involved in providing 'public goods' like leisure factilities nor do they have locus for public policy. All Welsh government forestry is CRoW Access Land and Tilhill etc own none of that and they have no long term interests in it. They are simply contractors who come and go. So this is a bit of a red herring being thrown into the cave access fish bowl.

The problem that one faces in talking about underground access to NRW is that NRW behaves like a political organisation rather than a commercial one as you can see from the PowerPoint slides link provided at the top of this thread: nothing there about leisure and access, while it is long on "social justice ... and using our voice". So one should expect NRW to be commercially irrational and driven by their own political ideology or that of their paymasters. Talking to them is a very different experience from say talking to a farmer or a very large landowner like the Beaufort Estate about access matters where the thinking behind your opposite number's position is driven by pragmatism.

My experience these past 8 years is that NRW simply digs in and tries to hold a position until it becomes too uncomfortable and untenable, and only at that point does pramatism take over. It's a slow cycle. As one of their regional land agents said to me when I knocked on his door prior to setting up CAL in 2015: "whatever you are going to propose to me today has to be better than the situation that I'm curently in".

So how should one proceed with NRW now? They've been quite hostile in their response to the JR case when they could have seen it as an opportunity to be conciliatory and constructive and to improve public leisure access on large blocks of land where they have an interest. They are firmly in an ideology phase right now and a return to pragmatism could be some way off.