Three developments keep alive the subject of Wales’ Agriculture Pollution Regulations: the Senedd’s own review in its Economy, Trade & Rural Affairs, and the Wales Land Management Sub-group on Agricultural Pollution’s task-group on alternative solutions and finally the National Farmers’ Union’s formal legal challenge. This last process has made the headlines, but it is sub-judice – so little information will emerge – and will take some time.
The first two developments are not to be underestimated. The Government must respond to the findings of a key Senedd Committee. Such committees are quite capable of changing opinions and, occasionally, of embarrassing governments. CLA Cymru will be submitting evidence to ETRA. It’s encouraging that this committee’s remit prioritises Welsh business interests over other themes. Chaired by rural MS, Llyr Gruffyd, he led the challenge to the regs in the Senedd this spring. Significantly the group includes other opposition front-bench spokespersons on rural affairs matters – some of these have farming business interests themselves. Our evidence to this committee will include relevant case-study material from an upland beef and sheep enterprise, dairy and arable interests. All three will focus on the hard impacts of the regs on their business bottom-line and simultaneously describe the good work they’re doing to further improve management of by-products.
Finally, the Wales Land Management sub-group on agricultural pollution has set up a task and finish group to determine potential alternative measures to the Wales-wide regulations. Part of this group, we will be revising and building on the better alternatives we mooted when the blanket nitrogen vulnerable zone (NVZ) was proposed. There’s no time to be lost, this work must be complete within a year. The work for the Senedd committee review will also be useful for this group.
Meanwhile, following our work in communicating with MSs has borne fruit and both parties are making good use of the Senedd recess to share views and build an ever stronger case for a better solution.