Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Mid and West AM Simon Thomas, said: “There is a glimmer of hope that a voluntary approach like that advocated by First Milk of an off-set for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones might be consider in the future. Following my talks with farmers from the west I’m sure they will welcome there is no extension of the Nitrate Vulnerable Zone to the rest of Pembrokeshire.
“Over a year has passed since the Welsh Government consulted on Nitrate Vulnerable Zones in autumn 2016. This means that farmers in Wales have faced over a year of uncertainty regarding the Welsh Government’s intentions.
“Plaid Cymru has been clear from the outset that the Welsh Government should seek alternatives to NVZ which will significantly add to costs faced by farmers who already face financial uncertainty.
“I wrote to the Cabinet Secretary in November 2016 asking her to consider alternatives to NVZ such as the agroforestry approach called ‘bocage’ practiced in Brittany.
“The approach entails planting hedgerows or trees which allow nitrate recycling.
“A voluntary scheme such as this could provide an alternative method of reducing nitrogen pollution on farmland in Wales and could also provide other ecosystem services, such as flood mitigation, carbon storage and maintaining and enhancing biodiversity.
“Protecting Wales’ water from nitrogen pollution is particularly important following the referendum to leave the EU and the uncertainty regarding environmental regulation in the UK.
“However, this could be achieved through a voluntary approach, rewarding farmers for providing ecosystem services, rather than through imposing further bureaucracy and costs on farmers.”