Confirmed Board Meeting Minutes - May 14 2014

Title of Meeting:
Board Meeting (Business)
Date of Meeting:
14 May 2014
Mike Brooker
Ruth Hall
Madeleine Havard
Harry Legge-Bourke
Peter Matthews (Chair)
Andy Middleton
Nigel Reader
Emyr Roberts (Chief Executive)
Lynda Warren
Paul Williams
Executive Team
in attendance:
Graham Hillier
Liz Davis
Ceri Davies
Clive Thomas
Kevin Ingram
Niall Reynolds
Tim Jones
Catherine Smith
Geralene Mills
Kelly Goswell
Item 1
1. The Chairman welcomed all to the meeting.
2. Apologies for absence noted from Trefor Owen, Executive Director for National
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Declaration of Interest
3. There were no declarations of interest in relation to items on the agenda.
Ratification of Minutes
4. The minutes from the Board meeting on 3rd April were agreed as a true record of the
meeting and approved subject to the following amendments:
Partnership Funding Review (NRW B O 25.14) Para 17 – Bullet missing,
inclusion of ‘importance of development of 3rd party sector partners was
People Strategy (NRW B O 27.14) Para 22 –Correction of ‘Communities
Group reported’
ICT Update and Presentation (NRW B O 29.14) Para 27 – ‘phase’ to be
ICT Update and Presentation (NRW B O 29.14) Para 29 – ‘Awareness of
staff difficulties with ICT conditions’ to be added
Update from the Chief Executive (verbal) Para 37 – briefing in error provided
to the Chief Executive due to timings of meetings. Clarification will be via the
May Board minutes.
Communities Group Para 52 – reworded as ‘Ruth reported on the National
Access Forum of 4 March and advised that the Communities Group would be
attending the July meeting to participate in a workshop on recreation and
Environment Group Para 57 – reworded as ‘Lynda…reported on discussions
at JNCC on the quinquennial review of the protected species schedules
within the Countryside and Wildlife Act’
Environment Group Para 58 – Inclusion of ‘issues with process’
Knowledge Group Para 60 – record the successful workshop held by the
Education team with Education Group
Review of Action log
5. The Action log was reviewed with the following updates:
Action 1 – Executive Director for National Service will present the draft strategy to
the Board in the autumn
Action 3 – Welsh Language Officer has contacted Board Members
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Action 5 – Board development day scheduled for 9 September will consider the
conclusions from the review of the Board effectiveness survey.
Matters Arising
6. Point 39. The Chief Executive confirmed that discussions were ongoing with the Welsh
Government to ensure that the Probation review of Natural Resources Wales is combined
with the planned ‘Value for money’ audit by the Wales Audit Office.
2. Corporate Dashboard – Our performance for 2013/14 (NRW B 37.14)
7. John Hogg joined the Board Meeting and the Chief Executive introduced a presentation
that set out the end of year performance against the corporate dashboard. This showed a
good first year performance with 33 targets as ‘Green’, 9 as ‘Amber’ and 4 as ‘Red’
8. The Executive Team supported the presentation by giving updates from their areas of
responsibility focusing on explaining where targets have not been achieved. Key issues
highlighted included:
Natura 2000 management plan review target has not been achieved as the teams
responsible had been asked to prioritise Glastir support. This was fully supported by
the Welsh Government as the management plans can be delivered in 2014/15
Although the Habitats regulation guidance review target has not been achieved, the
key risks had been mitigated by utilising a project team approach in year to ensure
single voice responses. The consolidated guidance will be finalised during 2014/15
The response to statutory planning applications target was ambitious for the first
year and not achieved, as it had proved more challenging than expected to
integrate the teams involved and address the efficiency of the process. In addition
the teams involved have handled a number of responses to significant development
proposals which have required major resource commitments
The target for all staff to receive mandatory training is reported as ‘Amber’ as the
skills audit reported mid-year and as a result the high risk areas were prioritised,
including ensuring staff could be issued with warrants for hostile sites. The skills
audit has provided the evidence to support the agreeing of a contract for a suite of
one line training focusing primarily on corporate requirements.
Against service standard targets two examples were given of how the dashboard
had led to management action in year. Firstly complaint handling had been Amber
at mid-year so consolidating the guidance and training to support implementation
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had been prioritised. Secondly although the website performance has been Green
all year for usability, the content and digital services have been deemed to require
urgent improvement based on wider internal and external feedback. As a result, this
work has now been prioritised for 2014/15
Financial management targets were achieved, despite the constraints of three
separate systems
9. The Chief Executive concluded the presentation by highlighting a number of other
significant achievements not reflected in the dashboard, including work on hydropower
standards, social media campaigns and ICT apprenticeships.
10. Finally the Chief Executive set out key challenges for 2014/15 including meeting remit
letter commitments, developing a fully integrated structure for the organisation, and
achieving further transition milestones to establish Natural Resources Wales with full
11. The Board discussed the paper and presentation and noted the following feedback:
The Board commended the explanation supporting the targets which were Red and
Amber at the year end.
The Board agreed that for some measures the wording was unhelpful and that this
should be addressed for 2014/15. For instance the incidents ‘attended’ measure
would be better expressed as ‘incidents addressed’
Further assurance was provided that two mystery shopper exercises have been
undertaken to provide feedback on the performance of the Customer Care Centre
The Board sub group established to support on dashboard development reported
that they were pleased with progress, including the professionalism of the staff
involved and that all points raised had been responded to
12. In summary, the Board acknowledged the end of year performance and concluded that
the result was excellent for the first year, considering the scale of transition and response
to exceptional emergency incidents that had also been achieved.
3. Stocktake on Flood Risk Management post Winter 2013/14 (supported by the
Wales Coastal Review Phase 2 report)
13. Jeremy Parr joined the meeting and made a presentation to the Board highlighting the
key conclusions and recommendations from the Phase 2 report, recently presented to the
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14. The Board re-confirmed their satisfaction with how events had been dealt with over the
winter and also commended the thoroughness and detail of the report and the timeframe in
which it had been concluded.
15. The Chairman indicated that despite this excellent performance, the Board should still
consider how well prepared Wales might be for a similar situation to the one that occurred
on the Somerset levels during the winter. The importance of testing resilience was
highlighted and the link with the flooding of agricultural land to the engagement with FUW
and NFU through the Land Use Management Forum meeting which is planned in June,
was made.
16. The Board discussed the recalibration of Flood Maps and it was clarified that this is a
continuous process with new data input regularly on to the system. The Board also agreed
that the balance of language used i.e. ‘1 in 100 or similar years’ needs to be
understandable and not overly technical when engaging with communities.
17. The Board agreed that as the Executive developed the action plan to implement the
recommendations from the report, ARAC should undertake assurance testing on behalf of
the Board to help assess preparedness for future extreme events.
Action: Madeleine as Flood Risk Management Champion and Nigel as Audit and
Risk Assurance Committee Chair deputed to meet with Jeremy Parr to scope the
nature and extent of the review and to agree the route for scrutiny
18. Thanks were extended to Jeremy Parr, Adrian Philpot and their teams.
4. Health & Safety Annual Report - 2013/14 (NRW B 38.14)
19. The Executive Director for OD and People Management presented the paper to the
20. It was noted that at the previous Board Meeting in April (Page 6, appendix 2) diving
activities had been suspended due to a ‘near miss’ incident. Immediately following this
suspension, which had occurred at the time of the last Board meeting, HSE confirmed
there was no reason to suspend and diving activities had therefore recommenced.
21. The paper detailed the roles and responsibilities in respect of health, safety and
wellbeing noting the difficult and dangerous activities undertaken by the organisation with a
clear risk to life for staff, the general public and contractors.
22. The Annual Report identifies what has occurred during the year and sets out a clear
set of next steps to deliver further improvements. Cross organisational workshops are
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planned to agree an improvement plan, which will aim to establish a strong and dynamic
health, safety and wellbeing culture for the organisation
23. Hywel as Board Champion for Health and Safety welcomed the review having worked
on the strategy from the beginning with the Executive.
24. The Board discussed the Annual Report and the Executive Director for OD and People
Management responded to a number of points. In summary the Board agreed the Report
and next steps.
Action: Health, Safety & Wellbeing Strategy and Improvement Plan to be added to
the Board Forward Look
5. Access to Information Annual Report - 2013/14 (NRW B B 39.14)
25. The Paper was introduced to the Board by the Director of Governance who noted the
scheme of delegation requirement for annual Board scrutiny of performance against this
responsibility. A separate annual report on complaint handling will be presented to Board
at the July Meeting.
26. It was noted that the legislative regime for Access to Information overlaps with Natural
Resources Wales’ policy and values for transparency, responsiveness and customer care.
The emphasis in the first year has been on establishing a single approach to meeting
statutory responsibilities and developing guidance for categorising and handling of
requests to support further improvements.
27. The Board welcomed the Report and suggested analysing the type of requests
received and the different areas of the business which receive them during 2014/15.
28. Lynda offered her support in achieving the planned improvements based on her
experience and the Board were invited to offer further comments on the Report via email
Action: Board members to send further feedback on the Report by email to the
Director of Governance.
6. Finance Update - 2013/14 end of year and 2014/15 budget (NRW B B 40.14)
29. The Director of Finance and Corporate Services introduced the paper to the Board,
giving an overview of the end of year financial position and an early summary of financial
performance for 2014/15.
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30. At the last meeting it was reported that Natural Resources Wales were aiming to finish
the year with a £1m operating surplus to carry forward to 2014/15 to support the
transformation investment. The latest position is that surplus is likely to be £2.1m, although
this is subject to final adjustments and subject to a full end of year audit and the timetable
and process for the Annual Report & Accounts were reconfirmed for the Board. It was
suggested that any specific points of scrutiny that individual Board Members might
propose, should be handled by Audit & Risk Assurance Committee on behalf of the Board.
Action: Board Members to send any comments to ARAC Chairman for incorporation
in meetings scheduled for June and July
Action Point: Director of Finance and Corporate Services to produce a briefing note
on the 2013/14 outturn position for Board members, when the results have been
31. The Board congratulated the Executive on the financial management during 2013/14
and approved the paper.
7. Performance Framework 2014/15 (NRW B B 41.14)
32. The paper was presented to the Board by the Director of Governance, with
acknowledgements to the performance sub-group of the Board and the Director for
Knowledge, Strategy and Planning, who were involved in developing the paper.
33. John Hogg joined the Board meeting and presented the proposal for a Performance
Framework for Natural Resources Wales.
34. The Board discussed the proposal and the following key points were highlighted:
A number of suggestions for strengthening the environment components of the
framework were made, most notably an idea to include a measure in relation to
marine protected areas.
The importance of the Framework and the annual Dashboard as a key
communication tool was agreed
The need to include measures related to the carbon footprint of the organisation
and natural resource management were proposed.
The need to ensure the Dashboard remains operationally useful in helping
management to use information in-year to take action where appropriate
The need to ensure that reporting processes are efficient and supported by IT
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35. In summary, the Board agreed the proposals and that the Board sub-group would
support the Executive Team to finalise the measures and targets for the 2014/15
Dashboard. In addition it was agreed that the accountabilities at Programme and
Directorate level would be set out for the Board.
Action: Accountabilities of the Executive Team at Programme and Directorate level
to be set out in a briefing for the Board
8. Recreation and Access Strategic Statement 2014/15 (NRW B B 42.14)
36. Elinor Gwyn joined the meeting and the Executive Director of Knowledge, Strategy and
Planning introduced the paper and asked for approval of the Statement and the process
for developing the strategy.
37. The Board discussed the paper and gave the following feedback:
The Statement should set out the major opportunity for economic impact with multi
benefits for people and more clearly differentiate between recreation and sport.
The potential benefits for mental health wellbeing should be further emphasised.
The Statement should recognise the importance of awareness raising between
Suggestion that the use of ‘passive’ and ‘not active’ may send out the wrong
message to the public.
The timeline for developing the full strategy was challenged as being too long.
The Statement should acknowledge the challenges of managing access, recreation
and some protected sites
The use of the word ‘access’ was challenged and a suggestion that this may be
38. The Executive Director for Knowledge, Strategy and Planning responded to the points
and emphasised that the timeline for delivering the full strategy would be re-visited.
39. The Board agreed the Statement should be finalised incorporating the feedback and
also endorsed the next steps.
9. Update from the Chairman (verbal)
40. The Chairman gave an update of meetings attended, and highlighted his continued
efforts to ensure a balance of engagements to reflect the organisation’s remit for the
environment, knowledge, economy and communities. The following were highlighted:
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Recent engagement as a key note speaker at the Chartered Institute of Water and
Environmental Management Conference and has been invited to provide a column
for the journal.
Meeting with CIWEM.
Launch of Biodiversity Evidence Group project.
 Attendance at a meeting with the Bank of England agent for Wales.
 Meeting with Welsh Government regarding Natural Resource Framework.
 A meeting with the Police Commissioner for South Wales.
 A meeting with Judi Lee Wong from the Black Environment Network.
 A meeting with John Griffiths, Minister for Culture and Sport.
 A meeting with the Chief Executive of the Wales Botanic Garden.
 Field visit to Plynlimon with the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust.
10. Update from the Chief Executive (verbal)
41. The Chief Executive began his report by updating the Board on Health and Safety:
No lost time incidents reported for staff.
Ongoing work with the HSE to investigate and test the thoroughness of practices by
the diving team following the ‘near miss’ earlier in the year
A ‘near miss’ had occurred on a standing sale harvesting site managed by a
contractor. A member of the public had failed to observe site closure signage. No
injuries were sustained but staff were following up with the contractor to identify any
learning points
42. The Chief Executive updated on development of the Total Reward Package, which is
due to be finalised and handed over to the TU imminently. The planned consultation and
ballot by the TU will be supported with a series of events for all staff.
43. Management tier appointments are ongoing with 39 posts included in the campaign.
Initial matching stage is now complete.
44. The Executive Team has met with Water Aid representatives and agreed that Natural
Resources Wales will continue to support the charity. Trefor Owen has agreed to act as
the Executive ‘Champion’.
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45. A recent site visit to Talybont reservoir and forest to observe the felling required due to
P.ramorum infection had highlighted the opportunities to work with Welsh Water and
partners to realise a number of natural resource management opportunities in this
46. The Chief Executive and Chairman had attended the monthly meeting with the Minister
earlier in the week. The meeting was positive with useful discussion on the
recommendations from the Phase 2 Flood Report.
47. The recent session with the Environment & Sustainability Committee had gone well
with a good opportunity to discuss the first year performance of the organisation.
11. Report from Committees
Remuneration Committee
48. The RemCom Chairman confirmed minutes from the meeting on14 March 2014 were
included in Board papers for ratification purposes.
49. The process for appointing a replacement for the Executive Director for OD and People
Management is progressing with an external recruitment exercise now underway.
Audit and Risk Assurance Committee
50. The ARAC Chairman reported that the next two planned ARAC meetings will focus on
supporting end of year governance, most notably the Annual Report & Accounts exercise.
51. Natural Resources Wales will be hosting the next session of the network of Welsh
Audit and Risk Assurance chairs on 22 May with a focus on responding to the Future
Generations Bill. An update will be provided at the next meeting.
52. The Board Chairman and ARAC Chairman have a meeting scheduled for 9 June to
formally review ARAC arrangements including membership.
Flood Risk Management Committee
53. For clarification it was noted Madeleine sits as an observer on this committee and is
therefore the link to the NRW Board.
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54. Next meeting planned for 20 June which Madeleine cannot attend therefore Board
Member volunteers were requested. Harry volunteered during the meeting and others
were asked to contact the Secretariat to register their interest.
Action: Board Members to register interest via the Secretariat who will inform Flood
Committee Chairman.
Protected Areas Committee
55. No meeting held since last Board meeting. Next scheduled date 16 June.
12. Any Other Business/Forward Look
56. Arrangements for the Pontbren site visit on 9 June to be confirmed in next few days
57. The next Board meetings are arranged for:
July – Garwnant and Brecon.
October – Maes y Ffynnon and Anglesey
58. The meeting was closed by the Chairman.
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