Category Archives: Alun Davies

Troednodyn

Bues yn dilyn – ac yn gwrthwynebu – y cynllun ffaeledig i godi trac rasio ym mlaenau’r cymoedd ers amser hir, ond digon yw dweud bod gwanc ac anghymwysder y datblygwyr eu hunain wedi cael effaith andwyol ar y prosiect.

Sôn ydw i fan hyn am ymddygiad staff Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru adeg ymyrraeth Alun Davies – Gweinidog Amgylchedd ar y pryd – â’r prosiect.

Yn adroddiad Derek Jones i’r cyhuddiadau yn erbyn Alun Davies, adroddir:

Assurances have however been given by officers of NRW that they considered Mr Davies had indeed approached them in his capacity as an AM [rather than as a Minister].

Ond mewn ebost o 14 Mehefin 2013 gan Graham Hillier (oedd yn rheoli ymateb Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru i’r prosiect ar y pryd), gwelwn:

I need to confirm the meeting with the Minister [to discuss the Circuit of Wales case] asap.

A wedyn, yn hwyrach yr un diwrnod:

I’m sure we’ll be asked to withdraw our objection

… sef yn union, wrth gwrs, yr hyn a ddigywddodd.

Mewn ebost o 17 Mehefin 2013, mae Graham Hillier yn cyfeirio at yr un cyfarfod gan ddweud:

… and I thought it was to be in Ty Cambria (email to Minister attached for ref.)

Y cwestiwn sydd gennyf yw: pwy mynodd – yn anwir – wrth Derek Jones mai Alun Davies AC yn hytrach nac Alun Davies Gweinidog wnaeth swyddogion cwrdd â?

Mae’n glir iawn o’r dystiolaeth fod pennaeth y prosiect ar ran Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru yn credu ei fod yn delio â’r Gweinidog.

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Cylchffordd Rasio Blaenau Gwent – Beth Sydd  ChNC i’w Guddio?

Oes rhagor o gyfrinachau i ddod o du Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru?

Dwi wedi chwilota ym mhob agenda, a chofnodion pob cyfarfod Bwrdd Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru. Does ‘na ddim sôn am Cylchffordd Rasio Blaenau Gwent. A hwn, er yr holl broblemau amlwg mae safbwynt Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru wedi achosi i’w hun. Os byddwch yn chwilio am drafodaeth ar lefel Bwrdd y sefydliad, byddwch yn dod i’r casgliad mai pwnc ymylol, dibwys ydy’r Cylchffordd.

Ond nid dyna’r gwirionedd. Oherwydd er nad oes ‘na’r un sôn am y datblygiad dadleuol hwn ar gyfyl cofnodion cyfarfodydd Bwrdd Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru, dydy hynny ddim yn gyfystyr â diffyg trafodaeth.

Oherwydd mae papur tair tudalen yn bodoli, sydd wedi’i ddisgrifio fel papur “to the Board: Circuit of Wales update 2 September 2013”.

Mae’r papur yma yn ddadlennol. Mae’n disgrifio:

Background… the scheme brings with it significant environmental impact relevant to NRW’s remit.

Loss of peat soils and climate change impact. The proposal would result in the significant disturbance / loss of peat and peaty soils (potentially over 700,000 cubic metres)…  This loss of peat has implications for carbon sequestration, releases of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and ecosystem goods and services such as water retention and filtering. On current available information, the proposed payback time of carbon mitigation measures is up to 89 years.

Landscape. NRW considers that the impacts up the Brecon Beacons National Park have been under estimated and not addressed at the outline stage. The Environmental Statement acknowledges that 3 viewpoints within the BBNP would experience a significant effect on visual amenity, as well as the tranquillity aspects of the National Park and noise for residents.

Biodiversity loss. The proposal would result in the loss of over 230 ha of Biodiversity habitat including priority Biodiversity Action Plan habitats. To compensate for the loss of habitats, mitigation land has been identified on an area of c250ha of moorland adjoining the application site. It is proposed that this area be managed to improve the quality of existing habitat. This was offered prior to the determination by Blaenau Gwent but considered insufficient by NRW since it did not adequately compensate for the direct loss of habitat.

Loss of watercourses. All the existing watercourses within the main development footprint would be lost or culverted. The applicant was asked to make provision to seek to avoid/mitigate or compensate for the loss of watercourse and seasonal ponds, including assurances for the long term protection and maintenance of the existing watercourses/seasons ponds and the landscape around them. To date no direct mitigation or compensatory measures have been considered either on or off site for the loss of watercourses.

Groundwater.  Details of the level of groundwater have not been provided in the ES or its addendum. NRW objected due to lack of information and stated that this information should be provided and assessed prior to determination of the application. This information is required to assess the impact of a proposed petrol filling station and location of associated fuel tanks. The application site impinges on on a local potable water supply catchment and Dwr Cymru have raised concerns of the risk that the proposed development would bring to the contamination of drinking water supplies.

Common land. The 340 hectares of the proposal would be de-registered as Common Land. NRW is concerned that the future implications for future grazing on the adjacent areas of the common have not been fully considered, in particular the implications for future grazing on the heath communities that form part of the Mynydd Llangatwg Special Area of Conservation.

Dim byd syfrdanol am hynny; fel y mae’r papur ei hun yn amlygu, mae Cylchffordd Rasio Blaenau Gwent yn:

“tynnu sylw cyfryngau lleol a chenedlaethol. Mae CNC yn rhoi gwybodaeth i’r cyfryngau ond yn gyffredinol wedi gwrthod cyfweliadau”

Ond y ffaith yw bod yr holl broblemau a nodir uchod yn cael eu rhestru ar ôl i Gyfoeth Naturiol Cymru ddweud wrth y Gweinidog nad oedd angen galw’r cais i mewn am ystyriaeth Weinidogol. Hynny yw, bod yr “effeithiau amgylcheddol sylweddol” yma i gyd o bwys lleol yn unig.

Ydy bygythiad posib i ddŵr yfed yn fater o bwys lleol yn unig? Beth am yr effaith sŵn a restrir fel problem i ymwelwyr i’r Parc Cenedlaethol? Ac effeithiau hinsawdd sylweddol fydd ond yn cael eu had-dalu ar ôl 89 o flynyddoedd?

Unwaith eto, mae’n rhaid gofyn cwestiynau am agwedd Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru tua’r broses yma. Oedd ymyrraeth y Gweinidog wedi darbwyllo ar uwch-swyddogion y sefydliad fel eu bod yn teimlo bod yn rhaid iddynt beidio rhwystro’r datblygiad? Emyr Roberts a Graham Hillier yw’r rhai i wybod, tybiwn i.

Gan bod y pwnc yma mor ddadleuol, ac o bwys lleol a chenedlaethol, base dyn yn disgwyl i Gyfoeth Naturiol Cymru arddel tryloywder i sicrhau bod pob dim yn agored i’w graffu.

Ond pam felly nad oes yr un cyfeiriad at y papur yma yn y cofnodion na’r agendau i gyfarfodydd y Bwrdd ar 4 Medi 2013 (na chyfarfod y Bwrdd ar 16 Hydref 2013)? Ai dyma’r unig achos erioed i’r’ Bwrdd trafod y Cylchffordd Rasio? Beth sydd â Chyfoeth Naturiol Cymru i guddio?

Tra ydym ni’n sôn ddiffyg tryloywder, pam nad ydy Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru yn cyhoeddi’r papurau a ddateglir o dan y Ddeddf Rhyddid Gwybodaeth yn yr un man ag y mae’n rhestri’r ceisiadau eu hun? Pam bod angen i rywun anfon ebost “at atiteam@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk gan ddyfynnu’r rhif cyfeirnod ATI” er mwyn cael gafael ar y gwybodaeth

A pham, os mae’r sefydliad wedi’i ymrwymo i dryloywder, mai nhwthau sy’n penderfynu pa dogfennau i’w cyhoeddi a pha rhai i gadw iddynt hwythau?:

Dylid nodi nad yw’r cofnod datgeliadau yn rhestru popeth a ryddhawyd o dan y Ddeddfwriaeth Mynediad at Wybodaeth. Mae’r meini prawf ar gyfer datgelu ymatebion yn cynnwys

  • budd sylweddol i’r cyhoedd
  • dangos gweithdrefnau mewnol
  • dangos sut mae arian cyhoeddus wedi cael ei wario

Pwy yw’r corpws  gorau i farnu os oes ‘na budd sylweddol i’r cyhoedd? Y sawl sydd o dan y chwyddwydr neu’r cyhoedd ei hun?

Oes rhaid i ni gymryd bod Peter M yn gywir pan ddywedodd bod ag Emyr:

[p]aranoia ynghylch gwneud pethau yn gyhoeddus, FoIs ayyb

Dylanwad Alun Davies

Am resymau amlwg, mae gofynion penodol ar Weinidogion Cymru. Mae’n rhaid i bob un ohonynt – gan gynnwys Is-Weinidogion – gydymffurfio â’r Cod Gweinidogol, sy’n gosod safonau ymddygiad.

Ys dywed neb llai na Carwyn Jones:

Fel Gweinidogion mae’n ofynnol arnom gadw’r safonau uchaf o ymddygiad. Mae’r Cod yn gosod y safonau hynny, a’r egwyddorion sy’n sylfaen iddynt. Mae’r Cod yn berthnasol i bob Gweinidog ac Is-Weinidog a disgwyliaf i bob un cadw at yr egwyddorion, fel y byddaf innau.

Mae Adran 4 o’r Cod yn berthnasol i unrhyw benderfyniadau sydd o dan ystyriaeth yn etholaeth y Gweinidog ei hun. A mae’n briodol codi cwestiwn o ymddygiad Alun Davies, Gweinidog Adnoddau Naturiol a Bwyd, parthed Cylchffordd Rasio Blaenau Gwent.

Dyma sydd â’r Cod i ddweud ynghylch penderfyniadau sy’n ymwneud â’u portffolios a’u hetholaethau:

4.4 Where Ministers have to take decisions on their own portfolios which might have a particular impact on their own constituencies or electoral regions, they should take particular care to avoid any possible conflict of interest. Where Ministers are uncertain about whether a conflict arises between their Ministerial and constituency/regional responsibilities they should consult the First Minister, for decision as to how the business is to be handled.

4.7 Ministers are free to make their views about constituency matters known to the responsible Minister by correspondence, leading deputations or by personal interview provided they make clear that they are acting as their constituents’ representative and not as a Minister. Ministers are advised to take particular care in such cases to represent the views of their electorate rather than express a view themselves.  When Ministers express a view they should ensure that their comments are made available to the other parties, avoid criticism of the Assembly Government’s policies, confine themselves to comments which could reasonably be made by those who are not Ministers, and make clear that the views they are putting forward are ones expressed in their capacity as the Assembly Member representing a particular constituency or region

4.8 Particular issues can arise over views expressed on planning applications as these involve the exercise of discretion by the Minister in which representations intended to be taken into account in reaching a decision may have to be made available to other parties and thus may well receive publicity. It is particularly important to bear in mind that any attempt to influence the Minister taking a decision on a planning case, other than through the proper channels, could imperil that decision. In addition, if Ministers wish to take a position on a case, whether or not as Assembly Members, they should ensure they are clearly divorced from the Ministerial decision making process on that case and that their pronouncements could not directly threaten the soundness of the decision (eg if their portfolio area is a key factor in the planning decision).

4.10 (d) Where, however, the determination of a planning application will lead to, or will implicitly involve, other decisions or judgements in which the Minister making representations is involved (eg the need for a new health facility or school etc.) then that Minister should not make any comment of his or her own;

(e) Ministers may, in their capacity as a constituency Assembly Member, attend public meetings; they may make representations to a planning authority; they may argue a constituent’s case at a public local inquiry; and they may take a personal position. But their role must be consistent with (a) to (c) above. They may not take a personal position in respect of cases under (d) above;

Planning cases: The Minister with responsibility for Planning

4.12 One of the basic tenets of the planning system is that, in the interests of natural justice, decisions are based on an open and fair consideration of all relevant planning matters with the same information being available to all interested parties. Accordingly, Ministers, and in particular the Minister with responsibility for Planning, must do nothing which might be seen as prejudicial to the planning decision process, particularly in advance of the decision being taken. Action that might be viewed as being prejudicial includes (i) taking a decision, or being part of the decision-making process, in respect of an application which falls within the Minister’s constituency or region; (ii) expressing an opinion publicly on a particular case which is, or may subsequently come, before the Minister for decision; (iii) meeting the developer or objectors to discuss the proposal, but not meeting all parties with an interest in the decision; or (iv) commenting on decisions once they have been issued, other than in terms of what has appeared in the decision letter or, in the case of development plan approvals, any accompanying explanatory annexes.

4.13 In the case of (i) and (ii), in order to preserve the integrity of the decision from challenge on grounds of prejudice, the Minister with responsibility for Planning (or indeed any other Minister involved in the decision-making process) would have to debar him or herself from any involvement in the case if the application fell within his or her constituency or region or if the Minister had expressed a personal view on the proposal. As regards (iii), it would be possible to hold a meeting as long as the Minister was able to meet all interested parties in respect of a particular proposal. However it is unlikely to be a practical proposition to meet all parties together and, if separate meetings were held, it would require great care over what was said at each so that no party could claim bias in favour of one view. On (iv), decision letters set out in full the grounds for decisions and the Minister should make it clear that in any discussion after a decision is made he or she would be unable to add to the terms of the relevant decision letter.

Non-planning statutory decisions 

4.14 The rules and principles outlined above are critical to planning decisions, but will also be relevant to many other similar decisions which Ministers are responsible for taking (eg school or hospital closures, highway or power station enquiries).

Mae sawl cymal sy’n hynod o bwysig yn y mater o dan ystyriaeth:

In addition, if Ministers wish to take a position on a case, whether or not as Assembly Members, they should ensure they are clearly divorced from the Ministerial decision making process on that case and that their pronouncements could not directly threaten the soundness of the decision (eg if their portfolio area is a key factor in the planning decision)…

(e) Ministers may, in their capacity as a constituency Assembly Member, attend public meetings; they may make representations to a planning authority; they may argue a constituent’s case at a public local inquiry; and they may take a personal position. But their role must be consistent with (a) to (c) above. They may not take a personal position in respect of cases under (d) above;

Ministers, and in particular the Minister with responsibility for Planning, must do nothing which might be seen as prejudicial to the planning decision process, particularly in advance of the decision being taken.

The rules and principles outlined above are critical to planning decisions, but will also be relevant to many other similar decisions which Ministers are responsible for taking (eg school or hospital closures, highway or power station enquiries).

Rydym bellach yn weddol clir ynglyn â’r sefyllfa. Os bydd unrhyw Weinidog yn gwneud unrhywbeth i beri mantais annheg i unrhyw ddatblygiad yn ei (h)etholaeth, gall hynny godi diddordeb y llysoedd. Enghreifftiau o ymddygiad sy’n dod o dan y diffiniad hwn ydy:

  • Bod yn rhan o’r broses o wneud penderfyniad am unrhyw gais cynllunio sydd o fewn etholaeth personol y Gweinidog
  • Mynegi barn cyhoeddus ynghylch unrhyw achos sydd yn, neu a all, ddod o flaen y Gweinidog Cynllunio am benderfyniad
  • Cwrdd â’r datblygwr heb gwrdd â’r sawl sy’n gwrthwynebu’r cynllun
  • Er mwyn bod yn garcus am her gyfreithiol ar sail rhagfarn, mae’n rhaid i unrhyw Weinidog sydd â rôl yn y broses o benderfynu cais cynllunio amddifadu ei hun rhag unrhyw ymyrraeth yn yr achos.

Yn ôl at Alun Davies, felly.

Cwrddodd Alun Davies â Chyfoeth Naturiol Cymru a’r datblygwr o leiaf unwaith, am 11:00 ar 18 Mehefin 2013. Neb arall oedd yn bresennol, dim ond Alun Davies, y datblygwr a’r corff amgylcheddol. Y corff amgylcheddol, hynny yw, sydd yn dod o dan Adran neb llai nag Alun Davies.

Mae Alun Davies wedi dweud yn gyhoeddus ei fod o blaid y datblygiad:

O du draw i Flaenau Gwent y daw gwrthwynebiad [i’r Cylchffordd Rasio], nad ydynt yn dod o Flaenau Gwent a nad oes dim diddordeb ganddynt ym Mlaenau Gwent. Mae fy nghyngor iddynt yw i’n gadael ni yn llonydd.

A mae Alun Davies wedi dweud y canlynol i staff Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru:

I have received a copy of the NRW response to the planning application for the Circuit of Wales in my constituency.

I am very disappointed with the approach that NRW has taken in this matter. I felt that NRW would be taking an entirely different approach to planning matters and would be seeking to adopt a positive approach, working with applicants to deliver developments that will enhance the sustainability of communities across Wales. This has clearly not happened in this case.

I am very anxious that this development goes ahead and does so in a way that enhances the community of Blaenau Gwent in the widest sense. I would therefore seek an urgent meeting with you to discuss these matters. I can be available in Cardiff either Tuesday or Thursday next week. I would like to use this opportunity to discuss with yourself and the developers how we can move forward in an agreed way.

I remain very concerned with the processes at work within NRW in this matter. In addition I do not believe that the current NRW position does reflect the totality of the statutory duties and the demands of the remit letter provided to NRW by the Welsh Government.

A llai na deufis yn unig wedi’r ebost hon, cawsom y tro-bedol mwyaf yn hanes byr Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru. Oedd y cyfarfod(ydd) a’r pwysau a roddwyd ar Gyfoeth Naturiol Cymru gan y Gweinidog wedi effeithio ar brosesau’r sefydliad?

Mae’n debygol bod Alun Davies wedi tramgwyddo’r Cod Gweinidogol drosodd a throsodd trwy ymyrryd yn y penderfyniad, trwy ddatgan yn gyhoeddus ei fod am weld y datblygiad yn mynd yn ei flaen, a thrwy gwrdd â’r datblygwyr – pwy a ŵyr faint o weithiau – heb sicrhau fod pob rhanddeiliad arall yn bresennol. Ac yn amlwg ddigon, na wnaeth amddifadu ei hun rhag unrhyw ymyrraeth yn y broses.

Ble mae hyn oll yn gadael y Cylchffordd Rasio? Mae’n debygol bellach bod y broses yn hollol agored i her gyfreithiol ar sail rhagfarn. Yn sicr ddigon mae’n taflu amheuon mawr ynghylch dilysrwydd yr holl brosiect. Fel mae’n digwydd, trwy ei awydd byrbwyll i weld y prosiect yn mynd yn ei flaen, efallai mae Alun Davies wedi dod yn elyn pennaf y Cylchffordd Rasio.

Mae un cwestiwn pellach. Byddwch yn siwr o gofio’r dyfyniad yma:

Where Ministers are uncertain about whether a conflict arises between their Ministerial and constituency/regional responsibilities they should consult the First Minister, for decision as to how the business is to be handled.

A wnaeth Alun Davies ofyn cyngor gan y Brif Weinidog? Dwi’n tybio bod hynny’n annhebyg iawn am y rhesymau canlynol:

  • Pe gofynnwyd, go brin y bydde’r Prif Weinidog wedi cymeradwyo’r ffasiwn ymddygiad, achos bydde hynny’n tanseilio hygrededd personol Carwyn Jones ei hun.
  • Mae’n bosib bod Alun wedi gofyn, wedi cael gwrthod, a wedi ymyrryd yn y broses yn erbyn dymuniadau ei fos. Dwi’n ystyried hynny yr un mor annhebyg â’r posibiliad uchod. Bydde hynny’n golygu colli ei swydd fel Gweinidog yn ddisymwth.

Yr unig casgliad rhesymegol felly yw nad ydy Alun Davies wedi erfyn cyngor gan Carwyn Jones. Os felly, dim ond dau esboniad sydd:

  • Bod Alun ddim yn credu bod ei ymyrraeth yn broses yn mynd yn groes i’r Cod. Mae hynny’n awgrymu lefel o ddiniweidrwydd nad yw fel arfer wedi cysylltu â’r Gweinidog.
  • Bod Alun wedi amau bod ei ymddygiad yn mynd yn groes i’r Cod Gweinidogol a ddim wedi dymuno cael gorchymyn i beidio ymyrryd.

Fe gewch ddod i’ch casgliadau eich hun o’r dystiolaeth sydd gerbron. Ond betia i mai sgwrs ddiddorol fydd yr un nesaf rhwng Carwyn Jones a’i Weinidog Adnoddau Naturiol.

Noder: Mae’r erthygl hon wedi’i diweddaru i gywiro yr amserlen parthed ebyst Alun Davies (12-14 Mehefin), datganiad Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru (10 Gorffennaf) a llythyr Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru yn argymell peidio galw’r cais i mewn (9 Awst)