On 3rd of July 2018 Natural Resources Wales published the interim report of the Wales Land Management Forum agricultural sub-group on its website. The report was submitted to Lesley Griffiths, the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs at the Welsh Government on 4th April 2018 and a response is awaited from the Welsh Government. The link to the report can be found with this introductory note.
The sub-group was established by NRW and first met in January 2017. David Saywell, the chair of Carmarthenshire Fishermen’s Federation was invited to join the group in June 2017 and attended his first meeting in July 2017 at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show. I took over from David in November 2017 although David still attends when I am unable to do so.
The introduction to the report on the NRW website sets out that there is no one solution to tackling agricultural pollution and that there needs to be a five-fold approach involving
- A robust regulatory regime
- Developing a voluntary, farmer-led approach to nutrient management
- Ensuring better advice and guidance is provided and can be taken up by farmers
- Improving the range of investment opportunities
- Identifying and promoting innovation
All approaches are essential if agricultural pollution is to be prevented but each member of the sub-group has different interests and expertise. On behalf of CFF we have represented that there has to be a robust regulatory regime against which each of the other four approaches can work.
Paragraph 8.6 of the report states that ‘A major failing within resource management is trying to tackle problems at the point where the impact is felt. This is simply too late; we really need to look for the origins of a problem and develop approaches which can tackle it at source.’ The current system does not work. It has failed to keep pace with developments in agriculture. Agricultural practices have to change where they are likely to cause pollution of our waterways. Paragraph 8.6 describes the current situation. Repeated pollution incidents and poor agricultural practice are symptoms of a failing system.
Discussions of the planning system will soon take place on the sub-group. We see these discussions as particularly important as they deal with the early planning of farm development which we see as essential in avoiding pollution.
Thanks to all of you who have reported incidents and raised the profile of the problem in Carmarthenshire and beyond. Without evidence change is not possible. Thanks to those farmers who have provided us with technical assistance and who continue to farm in a way that avoids pollution.
I will be talking about the sub-group and the report at the next CFF meeting.
Carmarthenshire Fishermen’s Federation
4th July 2017