Environment body chairman promises efficient service

Peter Matthews Peter Matthews says saving money will mean enhanced services

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The Welsh government has appointed the first chairman of a new body that will manage Wales' environment.

Prof Peter Matthews said he wanted to to create an efficient service for managing natural resources.

Environment Agency Wales, Countryside Council for Wales and Forestry Commission Wales are being rolled into the combined agency.

The Welsh government says the move will save £158m over 10 years.

But the Welsh Conservatives have criticised the process as a "botched muddle" and forestry businesses have warned they could suffer from a conflict of interests within the new organisation.

Enhance services

Prof Matthews, who has held a series of private and public sector environmental posts, said: "This is not an exercise in downsizing.

"This is an exercise in creating efficiencies, but the money realised from efficiencies will be used to extend and enhance services that we are providing to the people of Wales."

One of his first tasks will be to find a name for the new organisation.

Environment Minister John Griffiths said: "I am delighted to announce Prof Matthews' appointment.

"He has had a long and distinguished career in the environmental sector and his wealth of experience will provide an excellent foundation for driving forward our new single body."

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