Wales' Clean Air Plan 'must not betray farmers'

The Clean Air Plan states it is Welsh government’s intention to introduce new laws to tackle agricultural pollution
The Clean Air Plan states it is Welsh government’s intention to introduce new laws to tackle agricultural pollution

The Farmers' Union of Wales has responded with concern to the recently launched Clean Air Plan, stating that it 'must not betray farmers'.

The Welsh government's plan, launched in August, aims to improve air quality and reduce the impacts of pollution on human health and the natural environment.

The plan includes a focus on strengthening the control of emissions in the agricultural sector, identifying that 85% of ammonia emissions are derived from farming

It seeks to work across sectors to put in place policy, legislation and regulations to reduce air pollution in line with international air quality standards.

Furthermore, a new law to tackle agricultural pollution by in effect introducing EU Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) legislation for the whole of Wales will be introduced, as well as a National Minimum Standards based on the verifiable standards in Cross Compliance.

But the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) said the Clean Air Plan could 'devastate' farming businesses.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Whilst this plan is focused in the main on urban areas, where the worst pollution by far exists, the elements relating to rural areas would in fact undermine the good work that is already being done by our farmers.

“By referring to the introduction of an all-Wales NVZ, the Welsh government is once again failing to respect the scientific evidence and their own advisors, while also ignoring the drastic impacts on businesses such draconian 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.

It would be eleven times bigger than what was recommended by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) - the Welsh Government’s own official advisors.

Mr Roberts has called for a comprehensive impact assessment from the Welsh government against the backdrop of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the plan would entail 'crippling costs' for Wales’ farming industry that would 'run into hundreds of millions'.

"This proposal is wrong and warrants a comprehensive impact assessment so Ministers, politicians and their constituent can truly gauge the likely impacts.

“In addition, the introduction of the Cross Compliance Verifiable Standards into National Minimum Standards – a future regulatory baseline, needs to be given much more thought in terms of suitability for the industry.

"There are serious concerns about how our farmers will absorb the costs if the Basic Payment Scheme is phased out,” added Mr Roberts.