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Countryside Management Has To Be Paid For
14/03/07

The Country Land and Business Association is calling on the Welsh Assembly Government to recognise the value of the contribution landowners and farmers make to the environment in Wales.



countryside

Launching its manifesto in anticipation of the Assembly Government election on May 3, CLA Wales said secure funding coming from EU policies for the environmental management of Wales is essential to underpin the future of rural Wales.

Wales Director, Julian Salmon, told journalists at the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel in Mid Wales that the spectacular scenery which formed the backdrop for the press conference was at risk. The Welsh countryside was a managed environment, which takes cash to continue in its present form.

"The biggest challenge is the future direction of the CAP", he said. "For us the concern is that UK agriculture is basically not viable without public support. And we are without confidence that the market is going to alter that. If we are to retain the sort of scenery we see here today, then public funding is going to have to be retained in some form to keep Welsh agriculture going.

"We want to help the politicians to get that right. We are beginning to pose the question that possibly European Union policy should include payments for the environmental goods and food security we provide."

CLA Wales Policy Advisor Sue Evans stressed that the Welsh Assembly Government needs to be thinking hard about the future of the countryside. “We are concerned that the WAG is not taking a long term enough view in the current reviewing of agri environment schemes. There is a great need to do so due to the great changes implemented by the introduction of the SFP. If the WAG does not adequately fund the environment then there is a great threat of further bankruptcies within the farming industry.”

The CLA Wales Manifesto was launched at the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel because its ethos is very much in tune with the organisation's core beliefs. The venue, built as living quarters for the architects and managers constructing the Lake Vyrnwy Dam in 1890 it is now a prestigious hotel, currently constructing a £2.1 million extension, spa and conference centre, with the help of a three quarters of a million pound Welsh Assembly grant.

The hotel has signed up to the CLA Wales Just Ask campaign and prides itself on providing lamb and game sourced on the estate. Beef, fish, lamb, cheese and other produce is sourced locally.

The key points from the CLA Wales Manifesto are as follows:

  • The Assembly must ensure EU ‘Health check’ and Budget review of the CAP do not discriminate against Wales and the UK.
  • The Assembly must recognise the value of Wales’ environment and secure proper funding from EU rural policies for the environmental management of the countryside in Wales that the public wish to see, and which is essential to underpin the economic future of rural Wales.
  • There must be fair terms of competition with producers from elsewhere. The Assembly must campaign for equity in the regulation and costs levied on Welsh farming, and on the welfare standards expected on the Welsh, UK, European and wider markets.
  • As agriculture alone will no longer support rural communities, the Assembly must provide a positive framework for local authorities to maximise the scope for enterprise in the countryside through a pro-active approach to local development, integrated Planning, Housing, Transport policies and a modern Infrastructure to secure an economically vibrant rural economy.
  • The Assembly must incentivise the use of land based renewables and sustainable products in development projects, for use in construction and to stimulate the establishment of local markets for the production of energy, heat and power.
  • Agri-Food Strategy must continue to develop the quality image that Wales can offer, and encourage market led investment in food production in support of local sourcing, complimenting the CLA’s ‘Just Ask’ consumer campaign.
  • The Assembly must continue to ensure that fees and rules on business and on food standards are framed in a way that small businesses can bear, and that business competes on equal terms.
  • Woodland management is often a marginal enterprise and without support will lead to continuing long term decline of the existing resource. The Assembly must recognise that consistent support is required if private owners are to deliver the desired public benefits.
  • Access must continue to work for rural Wales in response to identified needs, be properly funded, not impose further unnecessary burdens on land management, and recognise the economic potential Tourism and Recreation can bring to the communities of rural Wales.

Note: The full Manifesto will be available in English and Welsh and sent to all prospective candidates over the election period. Copies of the Manifesto will be available from regional offices or by e-mail, and posted on the CLA website www.cla.org.uk .

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