Plaid Cymru calls to give farmers a stronger role in maintaining rivers and tackling farmland flooding in Wales were boosted today when the Minister for Natural Resources and Food, in answer to questioning from his opposite number Llyr Gruffydd AM, committed to emulating pilot schemes already under way in England.
The Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Sustainable Communities, Energy and Food, Llyr Gruffydd AM had only last week highlighted in an Assembly debate how flooding of agricultural land is having serious consequences for many farm businesses in Wales.
Speaking after today’s development Mr Gruffydd said: “In England the Environment Agency has established a number of pilot schemes where they will provide an opportunity to farmers, community and environmental groups to participate in decisions about the future maintenance of rivers and flood defences in their area. They’ve also reduced red tape in the pilot areas to make it easier for farmers and landowners to maintain the rivers themselves where they choose to do so.
“Having called on the Welsh Government to bring forward a similar scheme in Wales the Minister’s commitment to replicate any successful pilot schemes in Wales is very welcome.
“The Minister has been emphasising the need to improve the resilience of Welsh farming but he must back up his rhetoric with action by helping farmers deal with a blight that’s putting too much farmland out of use for large parts of the year.
“Farmers everywhere are telling me that much of the clearing and maintenance of river banks that used to happen in years gone by is no longer happening. If the Government or its agencies is no longer doing this work then it’s about time they looked at ways of allowing farmers to do it themselves.”