Farmers slam Glastir green scheme

THE Welsh Assembly’s decision to press ahead with its planned 2012 start date for the controversial Glastir land management scheme has been dubbed as a ‘missed opportunity’ by the Farmers Union of Wales.

“Glastir is missing the opportunity to make a real difference to climate change because it ignores the opportunities for sequestrating carbon from managed grazing and concentrates on tree planting,” Rhian Nowell-Phillips, the union’s deputy policy director, said today (Tuesday, March 16).

“Such a measure is unlikely to be taken up by farmers as they would be reluctant to see agricultural land taken out of production with little gain.

“In our opinion the Assembly Government is keen to promote Glastir as a land management scheme, but it has failed to think outside the box to look at opportunities beyond those available under previous agri-environment schemes.

“That is disappointing given the emerging evidence about the contribution grazing systems can make to carbon uptake,” she added.

“One of our main concerns has been how difficult it will be for farmers to decide whether to go into the all-Wales element without knowing whether they will be accepted into the targeted element which is based on delivering six objectives including carbon and water storage, water quality, historic environment, biodiversity and access.

“Farmers, like any other businessmen, need time to consider what is available to them under the provisions of the scheme before making a long-term business commitment.

“The FUW continues to demand a full economic impact assessment of the new scheme in view of the fact that the current Tir Mynydd lfa support scheme helped to avoid land abandonment and rural depopulation.

“Unless Glastir is made accessible and simpler there could be severe consequences for Welsh communities and environments, especially in the uplands.”

She said there was concern, too, about the current timetable given the diverse problems associated with Glastir on common land and tenancy issues.

“We fear it will be a complex enough process for normal farmland, but on common or tenanted land the complexities are multiplied due to the different ways in which common land is used in different areas and the types of tenancy and grazing agreements that exist in Wales.”

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