The National Assembly for Wales has competence to pass laws on a wide range of subjects relating to the environment, including nature conservation. This is subject to the reservations in Schedule 7A to the Government of Wales Act 2006.
The Welsh Ministers have a wide range of functions in relation to these subjects, including functions which allow them to make subordinate legislation. The majority of these functions are conferred directly by primary legislation – by Acts of the UK Parliament, Assembly Acts and Assembly Measures. However, the Welsh Ministers have also been designated under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972 to make subordinate legislation to implement various EU obligations relating to the environment.
The Welsh Ministers’ designations under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972 include designations that enable them to implement the two key EU environmental assessment frameworks:
- the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and
- the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)
Following the coming into force of the Wales Act 2017, the Welsh Ministers have a general designation under section 58B of the Government of Wales Act 2006. The effect of this is that the Welsh Ministers are generally treated as being designated for the purposes of section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972, for areas within the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales.