First Minister speaks on planning decisions and Welsh language


Shane Brennan

PLANNING decisions that affect Wales should continue to be made in Wales according to the First Minister Carwyn Jones.

The First Minister was speaking to the Free Press at the Urdd National Eisteddfod after being confronted by demonstrators from Cymdeithas yr Iaith.

The Welsh language group want to see restrictions on large developments in order to protect the language.

The group feels that local development plans that are drawn up by the planning inspectorate based in England are using out of date population projections and do not do enough to protect the Welsh language.

Mr Jones felt that having a Welsh planning inspectorate would not make any difference.

He said: “I don't think it would make any difference to be honest with you because they are bound to follow Welsh planning guidance anyway.

“So it wouldn't make a difference whether they were paid for by us or not paid for by us - what's important is that they follow Welsh planning guidance and Welsh planning that they're bound to do.

“It's under our control, we share it with England but it follows Welsh planning guidance.”

He added that planning alone would not help protect the language.

“Ultimately, it's about making sure that people use the language when they've got it and of course that they ensure that young people are able to learn the language in schools.

“That's where the challenge is.

“The planning system can only do so much and we have to look at this in an all encompassing way not just looking at planning or just looking at education and deliver a whole package and that's what I am looking to do when I make a statement next month.”

Mr Jones said that ensuring people are able to use Welsh as a living language was key to the survival of the language.

He said: “The big challenge is making sure that those who can speak Welsh use it outside the classroom, particularly true in parts of Wales where Welsh is the community language and we need to make sure that more activities are available.

“The Urdd is working hard to provide that and for young people to see the language is important outside of the classroom - that's the big challenge for us that we have to

Cymdeithas yr Iaith spokesperson Sioned Hâf added: “Well over a year since the Census results, Government policy changes which will enable everyone in our country to live in Welsh are long overdue.

“We are calling on the Government to take serious action in six specific areas so that the language grows.

“With political will things can change, but to date the Government response has been little more than laughable.

“Small steps won't be sufficient to respond to the crisis, ambitious steps need taking in the fields of education, planning and funding. We hope our protests will spur them to act.”

See full story in the Free Press

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