NEIL Hamilton, MS for Mid & West Wales, and Leader of UKIP Wales is backing a farming union’s concerns over the recently launched Clean Air Plan.
Mr Hamilton, a member of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs is supporting the Farmers’ Union of Wales who are worried the Welsh Government proposals will betray farmers.
The plan aims to improve air quality and reduce the impacts of air pollution on human health, biodiversity, the natural environment and the economy. This will be done by working jointly across sectors to put in place evidence-based policy, legislation, regulations and investment to reduce air pollution in line with international air quality standards.
The Welsh Government has also stated it will introduce a new law to tackle agricultural pollution by in effect introducing EU Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) legislation for the whole of Wales, as well as a National Minimum Standards based on the verifiable standards in Cross Compliance.
Mr Hamilton said:
“I share the concern of the FUW that whatever the Welsh Government Clean Air Plan proposes it must not be to the detriment of the farming community.
“Earlier this year I called on WG to take another look at its draft legislation to tackle agricultural pollution. An all-Wales Nitrate Vulnerable Zone is definitely not the way to go and is clearly not in the best interests of farmers.
“As a long term critic of these proposals, I firmly believe the Welsh Government should listen to the experts – the farmers themselves. We need a targeted and proportionate approach to tackle recurring incidents of pollution in intensively farmed areas. The priority of the Welsh Government should be fair and proportionate to all farms, many of which are small family-run businesses which should not be made to suffer from top-down, ill-informed Government regulations. This pan-Wales approach places an unnecessary burden on small farmers.
“Unfortunately, Welsh Labour has a record of disregarding hard evidence and expert advice from stakeholders and have revealed themselves to be no friend of rural Wales.
Whether it’s banning shooting on public land, the failure to eradicate Bovine TB or to halt draconian fishing by-laws, Welsh Government have failed rural Wales at nearly every juncture.”
FUW President Glyn Roberts said:
“As farmers, we take the state of our environment very seriously. It affects everything we do and it is in our interest to work together with Governments and others to achieve the best possible standards.
“Whilst this plan is focussed in the main on urban areas, where the worst pollution by far exists, the elements relating to our rural areas would, in fact, undermine the good work that is already being done by our farmers while also devastating businesses.
“By referring to the introduction of an all-Wales NVZ in the paper the Welsh Government is once again failing to respect the scientific evidence and their own advisors, while also ignoring the drastic and devastating impacts on businesses and families such draconian and disproportionate measures would have.
“They’re also failing to take account of the evidence of detrimental or negligible impacts from other NVZ areas,” he added.
The draft legislation, if introduced, would designate the whole of Wales as an NVZ, an area more than forty times bigger than the current Welsh NVZ area, and eleven times bigger than what was recommended by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) – the Welsh Government’s own official advisors