National Minimum Standards for Welsh farming and the use of civil sanctions in tackling polluters has not been included in the new legislation.
Monday 26th September, 2022
Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths has announced today the first Welsh Agriculture Bill.
In what she described as “ambitious and transformational legislation” the Bill (if passed) is designed to support farmers, encourage sustainable food production and conserve and enhance the Welsh countryside, culture and language.
The Bill is now subject to scrutiny by the Senadd until January with Welsh Government aiming to pass it into law in July 2023.
What will this legislation mean for Wales’s rivers? Any Government support for farming that is “sustainable” and does not damage the environment is welcome. Afonydd Cymru has concerns, however, that the Bill is missing two important elements, namely National Minimum Standards for Welsh farming and the use of civil sanctions in tackling polluters. There is currently no timetable for the anticipated introduction of either.
The introduction of National Minimum Standards will bring together legislation on agricultural regulation in a way that will make it more accessible. Allied to this will be civil sanctions, which will give Natural Resources Wales a wider range of options making their regulation and enforcement more effective. We hope that priority is given to these measures by Welsh Government.
This is still very early days for the new legislation of course and probably too early to be sure about the Bill’s real implications for rivers. We hope to be able to say more in a couple of weeks following Welsh Government’s second briefing session.