From banning plastics to coal tip safety: Mark Drakeford sets out Welsh Government plans

050722 Drakeford Single use plastics

Banning single use plastics and steps to improve air quality are among the new laws Mark Drakeford says the Welsh Government will work on over the coming year. 

He also promised that in the following year there’ll be legislation to increase the size of the Senedd and to shake up council tax. 

Unveiling the Welsh Government’s legislative programme, the First Minister said a priority would be a Clean Air Bill which will introduce what he said were “ambitious targets and regulations to reduce emissions and improve air quality.”

Five Bills are to be introduced in the next twelve months and the focus of them all is climate change and improving the environment. 

The five are:

  • Single Use Plastics bill to ban or restrict items such as plastic straws

  • Clean Air Bill

  • Agriculture Bill to reform support for farmers, "rewarding farmers who take action to protect the environment"

  • Infrastructure Consenting Bill to streamline planning rules for major projects

  • Coal Tip Safety Bill


Credit: PA

The First Minister also signalled bills to be introduced in 2023/4:

  • Senedd Reform Bill to expand the Senedd following a plan previously backed by Mss

  • Bus Bill to design new bus networks

  • Local Government Finance Bill to reform council tax

Announcing the programme, the First Minister said: “The climate emergency is very much with us. We will introduce five important Bills, which will help to protect our environment, improve the quality of the air we breathe and stop so much plastic polluting our beautiful land and seascape.

“We have a packed legislative agenda ahead of us as we lay the building blocks towards the Wales we want to see.

“To deliver it we will continue to work across the Chamber to make sure our legislation is the best it can be and improves the lives of all the people of Wales.”

Welsh Conservatives leader Andrew RT Davies has criticised the Welsh Government for ignoring more urgent issues.

The Opposition leader Andrew RT Davies criticised the Welsh Government for a lack of urgency and for prioritising constitutional change over other issues that he said were more important. 

“After years of dithering and delaying, this Labour Government has finally seen fit to introduce key pieces of legislation that would save lives. For years Welsh Conservatives have been calling for the introduction of a Clean Air Act only to be met with deafening silence from Labour."

He continued: “It is regrettable that there has been no inclusion of either an Autism Act or a British Sign Language Bill, both of which the Welsh Conservatives have long called for.

“To top it off, Labour and their nationalist coalition partners are rushing through their pet project to increase the number of politicians in Cardiff Bay costing the taxpayer up to £100 million. This once again shows just how out of touch Labour ministers are.

“What this Labour Government needs to be doing is focus on addressing the priorities of hard-working families across Wales and sort our NHS waiting lists, improve education standards and provide opportunities for better employment.”

Plaid Cymru is working in partnership with the Welsh Government in certain areas but remains in opposition on others. 

The party’s leader Adam Price said the programme seemed ‘thin’ compared to that before other parliaments and drew contrast with Scotland’s average of around 15 bills a year.