Last month, the Welsh Government announced the introduction of a nitrate vulnerable zone (NVZ) across Wales despite promising farmers it would not do so during the pandemic.
The Farming industry across Wales have reacted furiously and accused the Welsh Government of a ‘betrayal’ and Russell George, Member of the Senedd for Montgomeryshire has called for the decision to be reversed ahead of a vote on the regulations next week (Wednesday 3rd March).
Speaking after a Welsh Conservative debate in the Senedd this week (Wednesday 24th February) which proposed that Welsh Government reversed the introduction of a Wales wide NVZ, Mr George said:
"While farmers accept that one pollution incident is one to many and that a regulatory backstop is needed, the introduction of a nitrate vulnerable zone across Wales places more pressure on already hard-pressed farmers, who are dealing with loss of finance due to COVID-19 and uncertainty over Welsh post-Brexit plans.
"Despite denying that they would be introduced during the pandemic no less than seven times, the Environment Minister has gone back on her word by pressing ahead with the regulations. This is a kick in the teeth and a betrayal of farmers, especially when some areas have recorded no incidents of pollution in over ten years. These regulations are one in a long list of Welsh Government oversights and failures towards Welsh rural communities.
"Instead, I believe farmers must be brought on board to tackle water pollution. We would reverse proposals for an all-Wales Nitrate Vulnerable Zone and instead focus support on farms which need to reduce their agricultural waste. Farmers accept the role which they have to play in improving water quality and accept the role of regulation but it should be evidence-based, proportionate and targeted to the areas where improvements have been shown to be needed. In pursuing an all Wales NVZ approach, Welsh Government is advancing the most damaging course of action for farming, the supply chain and our rural economy.
"I've had hundreds of e-mails from farmers across Montgomeryshire, urging me to vote against the regulations. Despite the calls from myself, the farming unions and others - the response from the Welsh Government is that they're going to ignore us and carry on.
"This week, I met with Montgomery Young Farmers, ably chaired by Bryony Wilson, and I would like to thank Montgomery YFC for their work in promoting the implications for the farming community that these regulations will have on our farming businesses."