The Farmers Union of Wales has repeated concerns regarding the lack of detail available regarding the Habitat Wales Scheme that was launched by the Welsh Government on 29 September 2023. The Government haven’t announced the budget for the scheme, that is due to replace the Glastir Environmental grant scheme at the start of 2024. More than 17,000 farmers could be elligible for the grant, but none of them know how much they will receive under the new scheme.
Ian Rickman, President of the Farmers Union of Wales said:
‘We are extremely concerned by the lack of clarity on the budget available. The uncertainty for farming business is immense and no business should be expected to operate under such circumstances.’
‘While those currently with Glastir contracts will be prioritised for contracts, the confirmed payment rates are around 45 per cent lower on average than the payments for habitat land under Glastir Advanced.’
‘Reduced payment rates along with the loss of whole farm management payments and support for capital works means that those currently in Glastir will receive significantly smaller payments next year if they decide to enter the scheme.’
‘In addition, due to time constraints, the Welsh Government will not have the ability to deal with mapping issues or offer a second round of contracts beyond 1 January 2024, even if the budget allowed.’
In a statement the FUW said that they understood the funding pressure on the rural development budget in part due to cuts from UK Government, but emphasised a need that the Habitat Wales Scheme received the same funding as the previous Glastir scheme.
The FUW President’s statement regarding the scheme follows similar comments by NFU Cymru, who have also been critical of the lack of budget and the fact that there has been no impact assessment made by the Welsh Government into the effects of the new scheme.