NEIL HAMILTON AM for Mid & West Wales, is urging the Welsh Government to take another look at its draft legislation for an all Wales Nitrate Vulnerable Zone.

Mr Hamilton, a member of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs committee,is backing the farming unions who are calling for the draft regulations to be reconsidered.

He said:

“I am amazed and shocked that the Minister has gone ahead and published this draft legislation during the Covid-19 crisis.It is ill timed and merely increases the pressure on our hard working farmers who are trying their best to survive in these difficult times.

“As a long term critic of these proposals, I firmly believe 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 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.”

 This week the Farmers’ Union of Wales said they were concernedwater quality regulations would push dairy farms ‘over the edge’.

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At an emergency meeting of the Farmers’ Union of Wales Milk and Dairy produce committee, delegates were clear that a large proportion of the industry, which is already suffering severe impacts due to the knock-on impact of Coronavirus, would not survive if these regulations were to be introduced.

FUW Milk and Dairy produce committee chairman Dai Miles said:”Large numbers of Welsh dairy farmers have seen massive falls in the price they receive for their milk as well as delays to payments due to the closure of the service sector and other impacts caused by coronavirus.

“The publication of draft regulations that would require families in such a precarious situation to find tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds to comply, plus large annual compliance costs thereafter, feels like a knife in the back to a sector already under severe pressure.

Mr Miles pointed out the draft regulations ignored recommendations by their own official advisors, Natural Resources Wales, as well as a detailed 2018 report by the Wales Land Management Forum aimed at targeting agricultural pollution based on evidence and ensuring resources were focussed on places where pollution problems had been identified.

He added: “The Welsh Government has simply cut and pasted the EU regulations rather than taking the opportunity to introduce a proportionate, targeted and innovative approach to tackling problems we all want to see dealt with where they do occur.

“On behalf of our dairy industry and every other farmer here in Wales, I hope the Minister uses the time she has now to reconsider these regulations. For the sake of all our futures, including that of the environment which we care for deeply.”

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