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Real risk to language’s future unless planning system is considered

Aled Roberts outside Senedd (Richard Thomas)

Aled Roberts AM, Welsh language spokesperson, writes...

Language campaigners consistently say that we need reform in the planning system to protect the language. Despite this, no regard has been given today in the First Minister's statement to the need for local councils to review their development plans to consider the Welsh language. The fact that many local councils won't do so for many years misses the opportunity to form sustainable Welsh-speaking communities in those areas.

The Welsh Labour Government is still yet to publish two stages of its language standards. Last week's report by the Welsh Language Commissioner shows a clear need to improve Welsh medium healthcare, and the people of Wales should have clear right to deal with utility companies and other organisations through the medium of Welsh. Until clear standards are in place, we won't be any closer to making Welsh a living language.

A lot of focus in today's announcement has been on support for Welsh-speaking heartlands. The parts of Wales where the position of the Welsh language is weaker should not be forgotten.

There are some elements of today's announcement to be welcomed. There's a clear need for innovation in our approach to ensuring the use of Welsh as a working language, and the pilot project proposed for the Teifi Valley can hopefully develop new ways of working with local businesses. Unless Welsh Labour Ministers start tackling the issues of our planning system and service delivery, a real risk to the survival of the language will remain.

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