Natural Resources Wales response to the Coronavirus pandemic
Published: 20 Apr 2020

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Natural Resources Wales have issued a statement clarifying that they are working across the organisation to adapt to temporary working practices and ensure that their services carry on with as little disruption as possible.

They commented:

"We continuously review the situation to make the best decisions on the way we run our operations. We are committed to delivering safe services and prioritising the health and safety of our staff, their families and the wider community. To help slow the spread of coronavirus, most of our staff are working from home for the time being. However, our key workers and essential workers are still carrying out their critical work."

This In Focus covers:

Visiting sites
Staying active, healthy and local
Workplace social distancing
Environmental Permitting consultations
Species licensing
Forestry operations
Regulatory Decisions

Visiting sites

In order to control the spread of the coronavirus, Natural Resources Wales have taken the decision to close all their:

  • visitor centres;
  • cafes;
  • car parks;
  • play areas;
  • toilets;
  • mountain bike trails, with no maintenance to be carried out on them until further notice.

Legislation has also been passed to require local authorities, National Parks and the National Trust to close sites or paths that are: 

  • liable to large numbers of people congregating or being in close proximity to each other; or
  • the use of which otherwise poses a high risk to the incidence or spread of infection in its area with the coronavirus. 

Stay active, healthy and local

Natural Resources Wales have clarified that although their sites have been closed, current advice is it is still safe for you to go outside for exercise once a day, as long as you:

  • or someone in your household, are not displaying symptoms of coronavirus;
  • do not travel;
  • go alone or with members of your household and keep two metres apart at all times;
  • are vigilant with hand washing and hygiene;
  • don't carry out new or risky activities;
  • follow the countryside code.

Workplace social distancing

From Tuesday 7 April, new legislation came into force in Wales that applies the two metre social distancing rule to any workplace.

The aim of making this a legal requirement is to try and ensure workers are protected from the coronavirus.

We have a specific In Focus covering this topic; Welsh Government make 2-metre social distancing a legal requirement in the workplace.

Environmental Permitting consultations

Natural Resources Wales will continue to advertise and consult on permit applications as normal. The timing of each consultation is determined by the legislation, once an application is made.

For high public interest applications they will consider if they need to change how people are consulted. This will be arranged on a case by case basis and communicated on through the normal channels.

Species licensing

Any survey work you had planned as part of a species licence application should only be carried out where absolutely necessary following the latest social distancing guidelines from the Government.

If you can’t work from home you should check the latest guidance provided by environmental businesses such as the British Trust for Ornithology, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds or the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.

Forestry operations

Natural Resources Wales are continuing with harvesting operations to assist the supply of wood products, to help sustain essential services in the health, food and energy sectors.

All forestry sites are subject to strict checks to ensure that they are operating within current Government guidelines on coronavirus and social distancing measures.

Regulatory Decisions

Natural Resources Wales has published a series of Regulatory Decisions which deal with specific circumstances where they are relaxing normal regulatory requirements to avoid increasing risks to the environment or human health during the particular circumstances of COVID-19.

So far they include: