Clear Water, Poisoned Debate

For decades we’ve been hearing that water is a diminishing commodity, and with an ever-expanding global population we’ll soon be fighting over water resources.

Though these predictions often came from the same people who at different times – or even simultaneously – could predict icebergs in Swansea Bay and no snow on Yr Wyddfa.

It was the usual nonsense from the usual sources.

And yet, in Wales now, water is being used as a weapon. Not by us against our village-drowning neighbours but by politicians and others, supposedly serving Wales and Welsh interests, against a section of the Welsh population.

If that necessitates twisting the facts, and taking control of certain bodies, either through funding or placement of personnel, then so be it.

This is another big one, so I’ll say what I always say: Don’t rush it, take your time, savour it, and you’ll enjoy it far more.

BULLSHIT FOR WHICH BULLS ARE BLAMELESS

It’s been accepted for many years that there might be a problem with nitrate discharges, from some dairy farms, mostly in the south west. This highly localised problem explained why Natural Resources Wales classified just 2.4% of Welsh farmland as ‘vulnerable’.

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When asked to revisit the issue NRW produced a report in September 2016 that (on page 13) suggested, ‘Adoption of the targeted approach would mean an increase in the total area designated from 2.4% to approximately 8% which includes those areas newly identified by NRW’.

A targeted approach was obviously the sensible and fair way to go, but then the politicians got involved. One politician in particular.

The elections of May 2016 saw Lesley Griffiths re-elected for Labour in Wrecsam. Her Senedd bio then tracks her meteoric rise to voodoo doll status in farmhouses across the land. (Soon to be accompanied by Gary.)

First, she was made Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs. In November 2017 the job title changed to Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs. Then, 0n 13 December 2018, she was handed her baton as Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs.

Despite the facts of the matter, and the sensible proposal from NRW, just before Christmas 2017 Lesley Griffiths declared that the whole of Wales was at risk of NVZ pollution. Using this to announce an all-Wales regime.

After a year of being fed a diet of undiluted pollution La Griffiths announced in November 2018 that her mind was made up and she would introduce what she considered to be the necessary legislation.

After a slight delay due to Covid the implementation date was set for April 1, 2021.

But then things started to go awry for the so-called ‘Welsh Government’.

Despite an (unsuccessful) appeal by NFU Cymru the debate was noticeably widening as others took an interest, and could see how disproportionate to the scale of the problem Cruella de Griff’s proposals were.

For in addition to the all-Wales approach the acceptable nitrogen level in Wales was to be 170kg/ha, compared to 250kg/ha in England and Scotland. This was so obviously unfair, in a country where farmers are, on average, less affluent than their English and Scottish counterparts, that it tended to give the game away.

Because there would of course be a financial burden for farmers. Though I’m sure that those trying to put livestock farmers out of business knew exactly what they were doing

The backtracking had begun. With Plaid Cymru taking the credit. For despite being Labour’s partner in a coalition that dare not speak its name, the reaction from Plaid’s large rural vote was giving the party’s leaders serious concerns.

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A Plaid Cymru source said their party had pushed Labour ministers to act‘.

Some cynics – not me! – might wonder what Plaid has offered in return.

The NVZ proposals couldn’t withstand scrutiny from any fair-minded observer because they had little to do with pollution. NVZ was a stick with which to beat livestock farmers, hopefully putting many out of business to release land for other purposes. Land coveted by many in the offstage chorus influencing our Lesley.

To support and legitimise this attack on livestock farming we were expected to believe that only farmers are responsible for polluting our waterways and seas.

Which meant that Dŵr Cymru (Welsh Water), the worst culprit, got a free pass. How did that come about?

All will be explained later in this piece.

THE MEMSAHIBS OF KNIGHTON AND CONSIDERATIONS OF CHICKENSHIT

This section is part digression, part lead-in.

A group that has figured on this blog a few times is a coven of Green-Left-Woke crones who’ve imposed themselves on the border town of Knighton. There are a few men associated with them, perhaps even more unhinged than their female comrades.

Catch up with them in Colonialism in microcosm, or Knighton.

They perform the full far left agenda:

Rather than doing the honest thing and just staying away altogether on Remembrance Sunday they insist on making a nuisance of themselves by placing wreaths of white poppies on the war memorial. (Dressed à la mode Michael Foot.)

Are they reprising a scene from a horror movie? Click to open enlarged in separate tab

You will not be surprised to learn that these biddies have formed a Knighton and District Refugee Support Group. Reluctance to welcome with open arms complete strangers from far-off lands will see you labelled a ‘racist’.

An epithet also hurled at those not condemning the fascists of the Israeli state.

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The gang’s environmental credentials are on extravagant display with Sustainable Food Knighton. Which, in practice, is little more than a vendetta against a local chicken farm.

The attack is mounted on two fronts. One, it’s cruel to the chickens. Two, intensive chicken farms are a big, big source of river pollution.

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Without being able to consult the chickens it may be impossible to address the first point. The second is more relevant to this article because it’s used over and over again by environmental Non-Governmental Organisations (eNGOs).

Especially those that allege chicken farms in Powys are severely damaging the rivers Usk and Wye.

But what are the facts?

Well, for a start, there are more, and bigger, chicken farms in Shropshire and Herefordshire, as the map below shows. So if chicken shit is a problem in Wales then it could well be coming from over the border.

Then again, it might not be a problem at all. Or, it’s a problem that’s being exaggerated.

Knighton is circled in green. Note on which side of the border the chicken farms south of the town are to found. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

For anecdotal evidence suggests there are even more chicken farms in the Severn catchment area, the Trent catchment area, etc. But there are far fewer complaints from these areas.

Which could mean that either shit from Welsh chickens is particularly toxic – in which case every one of the little buggers should be killed immediately! – or there’s a purpose behind the lying.

It’s the latter.

A suspicion reinforced by the Environment Agency recently concluding that the bigger culprit in the Wye catchment is arable farmers, who are mainly found on the England side of the border.

Confirmed by this graphic released by the Environment Agency relating to the Wye in England. Note the section I’ve highlighted in the second level. The tributaries mentioned are also in England.

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Something also worth contributing here is that arable farmers use chicken manure as a fertiliser.

So even if chicken shit is the problem, it’s more likely to come from over the border; either directly from chicken farms or indirectly from arable farms.

And there’s yet another consideration to take into account. Certain interests are pushing us towards a meat-free diet, and in this scenario many view arable farmers as part of the solution. Which might explain them also getting a free pass.

The suspicion of an anti-livestock farming agenda being served was strengthened last month by a ‘report’ on BBC Wales about pollution on the Wye. One of the most biased pieces of television journalism I have ever seen.

Let me explain why I say that:

  • Passing references were made to sewage, but we were left in no doubt that the real culprits are farmers.
  • But only livestock farmers, with the programme focusing on one particular chicken farm.
  • There was no reference to the fact that the Wye is a cross-border river.
  • Despite being fronted by Wyre Davies the star of the show was Gail Davies-Walsh, who became CEO of Afonydd Cymru Cyf on February 22 2021, and secretary on March 11.
  • Afonydd Cymru (Rivers of Wales) serves as the umbrella body for the more local river groups.
  • Her Linkedin profile (here in pdf) tells us that until September she was Head of Natural Capital for the Wye and Usk Foundation‘. ‘Natural Capital’ seems to be code for, among other things, greenwashing. Certainly tree planting.
  •  Revealingly, Linkedin also tells us that Gail Davies-Walsh worked for Dŵr Cymru for almost 14 years, up until January 2020.
Gail Davies-Walsh. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Gail Davies-Walsh took the idea for the programme to the BBC. Which would raise more concerns about linkages, and influence.

Another who joined Afonydd Cymru recently is Harriet Alvis, (Linkedin in pdf) CEO at West Wales Rivers Trust, and co-editor of FISH, the magazine of the Institute of Fisheries Management.

More on both in a mo.

And the situation herein described is very much the same with more terrestrial eNGOs. ‘Environmentalists’ opposed to livestock farming take control of existing groups or set up new ones – and never go unfunded again!

A phenomenon reported on this blog many times. Try Enviroshysters flock to Wales for easy money, Invasion of the Enviroshysters (PG), or Back to the Land!.

TINKLING RILLS AND STREAMS OF POLLUTING CASH

Time now to turn our attention to the increasingly well-funded bodies looking after our various rivers, and we find new ones forming all the time. With the money available perhaps explaining the proliferation?

Here’s a table I’ve draw up, in pdf format (with working links) that I hope lists all the various river outfits operating in Wales. If you know one I’ve left out, then please let me know.

You’ll see that some are specific to one river while others are more general, some even claiming to be national in their scope.

Let me say at the outset, there are many genuine people involved in river trusts, boards, etc; not least, anglers, whose only concerns are for the health of our rivers, fish stocks, and other environmental matters.

But unfortunately, there are others, either looking out for themselves, or involved for a different purpose.

Go through the table I’ve linked to, particularly the ‘Comments’ section, and you’ll see substantial inputs of official funding in recent years.

Take the North Wales Rivers Trust for example. Total income in the year ending 31.03.2022 was £241,790. Of which £241,690 came in ‘Welsh Government’ grants.

From the Charity Commission entry under ‘Financial history. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

And it’s a similar story with other river bodies. Though much of the increase, instead of being shown as coming from ‘government grants’ or ‘government contracts’, is disguised as, ‘Income – charitable activities’ on the Charity Commission entry.

Such as here with the West Wales Rivers Trust. The Charity Commission graph shows income soaring from just £3,750 in y/e 31.03.2017 to £541,140 for y/e 31.03.2021.

That is one hell of a jump in just four years! One way of interpreting the big increase is the ‘Welsh Government’ – or Dŵr Cymru? – paying CEO Harriet Alvis’s salary.

Because don’t you find that strange?

A river group that has meandered happily along for 15 years suddenly needs a CEO.

Equally thought-provoking is Gail Davies-Walsh becoming CEO of Afonydd Cymru.

Making me wonder if Gail Davies-Walsh and Harriet Alvis were ‘placed’ in the West Wales Rivers Trust and Afonydd Cymru to push the ‘Welsh Government’s anti-farming campaign, and also to protect Dŵr Cymru.

For there is a certain ‘circularity’ to it all. ‘Welsh Government’ and Dŵr Cymru would no doubt explain the increase in funding by the ‘state of the rivers’, which then justifies the attack on livestock farming.

A ‘circularity’ made even more suspicious by the fact that these vast increases in funding occur at exactly the same time Lesley Griffiths was hatching the absurd and punitive NVZ legislation.

If I’m wrong then maybe someone can give another reason for our river bodies being showered with cash from 2016.

Back to the riverbank . . .

On the other side of the country the wealthy Wye and Usk Foundation’s income from government grants and contracts jumped from £404,950 in 2018 to £934,670 in 2020.

Not far away is the South East Wales Rivers Trust, which also saw its income more than double between 2017 and 2021. Explained as funding from, ‘Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Water, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Welsh Government with European Funds’.

The ‘disguised grants’ I referred to earlier was money paid to Afonydd Cymru Cyf and then distributed to the individual water groups. Afonydd Cymru’s own accounts tell us ‘Income from government grants’ jumped from zero in 2019 to £894,700 in 2020.

Afonydd Cymru may operate like the Wales Council for Voluntary Action does in relation to the third sector. That is, acting as a conduit for ‘Welsh Government’ funding in the hope of disguising the source of the funding.

But the money filtered through Afonydd Cymru is small beer compared to the £13.8m up for grabs in the Four Rivers For Life project, administered by Natural Resources Wales. (Though £4.5m actually goes towards ‘quaking bogs’.) The four rivers being the Tywi, Teifi, Cleddau and – it should go without saying – the Usk.

This might explain the recent formation of the Save the Teifi campaign. Though information is difficult to find. For example, the social media links at the foot of the website home page don’t work.

This report in the Tivy-side Advertiser in August links the group with Ffynnone-Community Resilience and mentions ‘spokespersons’, but gives no names. Is it a secret society?

The only name mentioned in the Tivy-side article is ‘Councillor John Davies’. This must be ‘John Cwmbetws’, of Bute Energy’s Welsh Advisory Board. Bute being a Scottish company that wants to build twenty or more wind farms in Wales, some with the tallest towers yet seen on land.

Well connected, is John. In Llanelwedd, Corruption Bay, and other places.

The Ffynnone group might be trying to stay anonymous, but one name has been given to me. It’s Jessica McQuade who, I’m told, not long ago moved to Llandudoch, across the Teifi estuary from Aberteifi.

Her Twitter account confirms the link with the Save the Teifi campaign.

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What struck me was that McQuade and Harriet Alvis, the CEO at the West Wales Rivers Trust and, since last month, a director at Afonydd Cymru, are both followed by the Brecon Beacons Mega Catchment.

This is the group created by Dŵr Cymru following its link-up with the Watershed Agricultural Council in New York State, in the area that supplies New York City with water. I wrote about this group in my previous post. It’s another outfit with very little information publicly available.

But what is McQuade’s and Alvis’s connection with this Dŵr Cymru outfit? And with Dŵr Cymru itself?

Jessica McQuade’s Save the Teifi / Ffynnone group has already received ‘Welsh Government’ funding. She could be another one ‘placed’ to push the ‘Welsh Government’s anti-farming campaign / WEF’s Agenda 2030 and, of course, to shield Dŵr Cymru.

As I suggested earlier, all the money recently being splashing around, with a veritable tsunami of new funding approaching, may also explain the new groups springing up. Here are some more.

There’s the Cardiff Rivers Group, containing a few Sherman luvvies, set up in October 2020. Bay-watchers may recognise one or two of the trustees.

Then there’s the Welsh Rivers Union, which has a website, and a Twitter account from February last year, but seems to be unregistered as either a company or a charity.

Next, there’s the Wye Salmon Association, whose Twitter account started in September last year. This too seems unregistered.

Finally, and most recently, there’s Friends of the Upper Wye. Which registered as a charity in March this year.

Let me conclude this section with a tweet from Jessica McQuade who, you’ll remember, is busy with the Save the Teifi campaign since moving to north Pembrokeshire, but whose day job is with the World Wildlife Fund.

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Now why would the WWF be interested in food? And trust me – that is human food she’s referring to.

Because, gentle reader, the WWF is no longer about saving pandas; it is a full-on, far left organisation totally committed to the anti-farming and the anti-human – ‘reduce the population’ – agenda.

And also believe me when I tell you that the WWF wields great influence with the ‘Welsh Government’, and in the Bay more generally.

‘FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE FARMERS . . . ‘

The ‘Welsh Government’ – and, indeed, the Bay establishment – has bought into the UN’s Agenda 2030 and the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset.

Both posit that burping, farting farm animals are destroying the environment; so we should switch to eating plant-based foods, insects, and gunge marketed as ‘artificial meat’.

Obviously, this will mean many fewer livestock farmers in Wales. Perhaps none. But that’s no problem, because the land vacated is already earmarked for tree planting, rewilding, conservation projects and other activities from which Welsh people will be largely excluded unless needed for window-dressing.

To facilitate this clearance programme livestock farmers must be blamed for things that are not their fault. This frees Dŵr Cymru from criticism. An objective easy to achieve given the influence the water company wields within ‘Welsh Government’.

To ensure that everyone sings from the same hymn sheet the ‘Welsh Government’, Dŵr Cymru and other official bodies are more than willing to fund assorted eNGOs which, in return, may accept ‘appointees’.

What I’m alluding to is little different to Bill Gates funding the BBC, the Guardian, New York Times, CNN and countless other media outlets around the world. He doesn’t do it in defence of the truth, he does it to ensure the media he funds will promote his and the World Economic Forum’s agenda.

‘He who pays the piper calls the tune’.

Headlines like this, frightening people into obeying the WEF agenda, don’t come cheap. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

Wales, being a poor country, and a corrupt, one-party state, with no effective political opposition, and no functioning media, is especially vulnerable to powerful forces seeking to impose an agenda.

If farmers can be defeated, and the food supply controlled by forces you will have difficulty identifying, let alone challenging, then we will have already lost. Because who controls the food supply controls the world.

It’ll be too late to complain when your car is confiscated, or when your access to your bank account is blocked because you said something on social media that somebody, somewhere, didn’t like.

So stand with the farmers, and stand up to those who threaten them. Because those who threaten the farmers also threaten you.

♦ end ♦

© Royston Jones 2022


Back to the Land!

After taking August off (and enjoying the break) I’m back to report on an event planned for later this month.

In fact, I enjoyed the break so much, and found writing this such hard going, that it might be a while before the next piece appears.

HOW IT BEGAN

A couple of weeks ago someone sent me news of a gathering to be held in the Community Centre, Knighton, on September 17, when many of us will be nursing hangovers from celebrating Glyndŵr’s Day.

Knighton Community Centre has been mentioned on this blog before, after falling into the clutches of white settler Labour activists; who now wage war on local farmers, welcome refugees to an area where they themselves are not universally welcome, and generally play latter-day left liberal colonialists.

For no longer is it Bible and bullets, now it’s saving us through a combination of uplifting sermons from the Rev Monbiot and those organic thingeys they eat at Felicity’s aerobic knife-throwing class.

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But I digress.

To expose the dishonesty behind this event I shall go through those named as being involved before concluding with . . . well, my conclusions. What else?

CAMPAIGN FOR THE PROTECTION OF RURAL WALES (CPRW)

Let’s start with some background. The CPRW has been pootling along for almost a century as a charity, but now things are changing. Most significantly, with the formation of a company in late May this year.

Though I’m assured there’s no significance to this other than the trustees ensuring they are not personally bankrupted by legal action against the CPRW.

Which also means that, at the moment, the CPRW has two charities with the same name registered with the Charity Commission. One will soon be closed.

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Previous CPRW presidents have included politician Megan Lloyd George and BBC broadcaster Wynford Vaughan Thomas. Clough Williams Ellis, of Portmeirion fame, was also deeply involved for many years as both chairman and president.

The current president of the CPRW is TV celeb Jules Hudson, who is believed to live in Herefordshire. Possibly Hertfordshire. But definitely not Wales. He’s famous for programmes like Escape to the Country and Countryfile.

In his favour, he has a Labrador called Iolo.

The chair of the Brecon & Radnor branch is Jonathan Halsey Luke Colchester, who has recently moved to Clyro. From where he runs his company, Courtenay Advisers Ltd.

I am informed by a very reliable source that the Brecon & Radnor branch of the CPRW is particularly hostile towards farmers.

That being so, why is the local CPRW branch organising a bash with the title ‘Welsh Food & Farming’? The answer to that question will become clear as you read on.

There are farmers, and there are farmers.

THE FERTILE CRESCENT

One of the CPRW’s recent recruits is associated with another new outfit, Friends of the Upper Wye (FUW), registered with the Charity Commission in March this year. (Though I’m assured she’s an admirable and well-intentioned lady.)

This will no doubt complement the Wye & Usk Foundation (WUF) which is about a lot more than just angling. The WUF is based in Talgarth, close to Coleg Soros.

Over the years the WUF has received millions in funding from or via the ‘Welsh Government’, much of it handed over by an official whose attitude to money might have been compared by my dear mamgu to that of an inebriated seafarer.

An amazing episode, with apparently no oversight whatsoever. It is even suggested that some favoured bodies didn’t even need to make an application – it was a case of, “Would you like some more money?”

OK, so it’s not exactly a crescent, but did I ever claim to be an artist? Click to open enlarged in separate tab

For the Fertile Crescent formed by the Usk and the Wye is something of a magnet for those seeking to save us benighted natives from ourselves. And for others with even less noble intent.

There’s yet another organisation, formed last year, in the Welsh Rivers Union (WRU), based on the Usk at Llanvihangel Gobion. This claims to be a collective of ‘citizen-funded’ community groups defending our rivers.

If it gets airborne it will be made up of the usual ‘community groups’ composed of people who were living somewhere else not so long ago.

Though as yet, it’s not registered as either a company or a charity. It may be just a website, and a Twitter account.

Oh, I almost forgot Afonydd Cymru Cyf, also based in Talgarth. Where income from government grants leapt like a returning salmon from £10,000 in 2018 to £894,704 in 2020.

Afonydd Cymru’s chair is Viscount Christopher Mills, of Kensington, who served as regional director of the Environment Agency in Wales (before the creation of Natural Resources Wales). Among the trustees is Joe Pimblett, CEO of the Severn Rivers Trust, based in Worcestershire.

When it comes to the Fertile Crescent even the Blesséd Monbiot has made a film, Rivercide (what a wit!), in which one of the supporting cast was Lesley Griffiths (sans Gary), and she reminded us that no matter what the facts may say, it’s always farmers wot we must blame.

St George thought the culprits were chickens, which appear at number 2, after humans, in his forthcoming opus, ‘Species To Be Exterminated If We Are To Save The Planet’. (Chickens have apparently deposed sheep in Monbiot’s demonography.)

Why this obsession with the Usk and the Wye? Is it because they’re close to Bristol? Or is their cross-border nature, demanding ‘co-operation’, the attraction?

Of course, there are rivers within Wales in far worse condition than the Wye and the Usk, so why are these ignored? Three reasons, perhaps.

First, these other rivers run through more populated areas with few stretches of open country attractive to those in search of a rural idyll, or intent on ‘habitat restoration’ (aka ‘rewilding’).

Second, while there may be areas meeting the criteria further west, there the Welsh language would be a consideration. And after the resistance to Summit to Sea the land-grabbers are wary of getting another bloody nose.

Third, they are entirely within Wales.

Never lose sight of the fact that for many, water quality is a stalking-horse, used against farmers so as to free up their land for other purposes. And the ‘Welsh Government’ wholeheartedly supports this agenda.

UPDATE: Here’s a recent example of pollution on the Wye that clearly has nothing to do with farmers.

LOCAL GROWERS AND FARMERS

A source informs me that the ‘local grower’ is the bloke from the organic food shop in Knighton, where you buy the knobbly carrots and the misshapen parsnips. Ach y fi!

(Though there may be others attending, more deserving of the billing.)

As for the ‘local farmers’, it seems these will both come from Herefordshire, which may be fairly local to Knighton (/Tref y Clawdd) but are not, unless we want to be irredentist about this, Welsh.

More pragmatically, whether we view Herefordshire as the ‘lost lands’ or not, the area will not be affected by any legislation or initiatives emanating from Corruption Bay.

Even so, to help give a fuller flavour of the event, I’ll tell you who they are.

One is ‘RegenBen’, of Townsend Farm, near Ross-on-Wye. Which, as the name suggests, is on the River Wye. Ben is a director of the Oxford Farming Conference, an organisation I’m told represents big landowners, yeoman farmers and the like.

(I was also told that a famous Welsh farmer went there to speak a few years ago, and has never felt more out of place.)

The makeup of the Oxford Farming Conference probably explains why a rival was set up in 2010 called the Oxford Real Farming Conference.

From what I can see the older body caters for those with inherited land while the upstart is more attractive for Greens looking to get their hands on someone else’s land. I wouldn’t be comfortable with either.

The other ‘local farmer’ is from ‘Wild by Nature’, of Lower House farm, just over the border from Llanthoney, close to Llanveynoe. (These corrupted spellings!)

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Looking at a map I see that both of them are close to the border, but neither is particularly ‘local’ to Knighton. The first is roughly 45 miles away, the second almost 50.

I suspect that both have been invited because they are well-connected, and have diversified into ‘artisanal’ food produce and other activities.

The Rhug Estate model, if you like.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve stopped many times at the Rhug restaurant and shop, and like some urchin from a Dickens novel gazed at goodies I can’t afford.

Rhug Estate shop. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

Though ‘farm shop’ really is a misnomer. It suggests Mrs Evans in a shed at the bottom of the farm drive selling goods cheaper by cutting out the middle man. In reality it’s a place where the price of everything is marked up.

Few locals can afford to shop there. That’s why the Rhug ‘farm shop’ is on the A5.

Even so, I’m sure a farm shop can be a nice little earner, and so I wasn’t surprised to learn that ‘Wild by Nature’ already has one. While RegenBen’s website tells us: ‘Our plans are to share the fruits of our labour by opening a farm shop’.

There are of course some excellent farm shops in Wales. One is Bargoed Farm / The Moody Cow, near Aberaeron, run by the former owners of Gilestone Farm, and visited very recently by Conservative Senedd leader Andrew R T Davies MS.

But how many farm shops can Wales support?

SOIL ASSOCIATION

The Soil Association, headquartered in Bristol, is another of those English organisations that recognises the existence of Scotland, but not Wales. We, presumably, are part of England.

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The Soil Association is registered as both a company and a charity. And with an annual income of over £23m it is no shoestring outfit. Of course the Scottish Soil Association is registered separately in Scotland.

In addition, there is The Soil Association Land Trust ‘established to acquire and maintain farmland sustainably’. Which might be worth bearing in mind, and could explain The Soil Association’s interest in Wales, a country I’m sure it will quickly recognise if the ‘Welsh Government’ offers to buy it a farm.

NATURE FRIENDLY FARMING NETWORK

The company of that name was launched in July 2018. Though there has been quite a turnover of directors in the four years since then. Of the eight original directors, five have left, including two who were obviously Welsh.

NFFN has an impressive website, telling us of a Welsh Steering Group, with two group members serving as directors.

Here’s a page giving some responses from the Welsh Steering Group to the ‘Welsh Government’s Sustainable Farming Scheme that emerged in July.

Hilary Kehoe, the Chair, mentions the ‘changing climate’. Rhys Evans thinks the ‘devil will be in the detail’. But Hywel Morgan was ecstatic. I was not surprised to learn that Hywel is involved with the ‘Welsh Government’s Farming Connect scheme.

The Nature Friendly Farming Network is looking to hire a £29,000 a year Communications Officer. Having recently recruited a Farmer Engagement Officer on the same salary. But who’s funding these posts?

For the financial situation is not impressive. I appreciate that it’s a company limited by guarantee, but even so, I would have expected to see more than £69 in the kitty. Which is what the latest accounts (to y/e 30.06.2021) show.

Yes, NFFN has assets of £199,317, but this sum is exceeded by money owed to creditors.

On the ‘Nature Means Business‘ page we read: ‘Right now, farm businesses are facing a multitude of challenges: climate change, unpredictable weather patterns, changes to future farm payment schemes and adjusting to new consumer demands’.

To prioritise ‘climate change’ (when it’s becoming clear that climate change has been – at the very least – exaggerated), and then virtually repeat it with ‘unpredictable weather patterns’, before mentioning farm payments, is revealing.

With no mention at all of the threat from mandatory afforestation, farms being bought for greenwashing, and restrictions applied by politicians and administrations that are blatantly anti-farming.

These priorities are evident throughout the website. The image below is from the Fund Us page. And again it’s ‘climate in crisis’, ‘wildlife declining’, ‘habitats being lost’.

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The Nature Friendly Farming Network seems to be an environmental organisation that recruits farmers. There’s nothing wrong with that, farmers care deeply about the environment that provides livelihoods for them and their families.

But it’s a question of priorities. The first of which has to be supporting farmers – who will then look after the environment

STUMP UP FOR TREES

This organisation has appeared on this blog a number of times, so I won’t dwell on it again.

Based in Abergavenny Stump up for Trees is a greenwash outfit. It’s registered as a charity, and one of the three trustees is Richard James Roderick, who farms next to Gilestone.

By ‘greenwashing’ I mean that SUFT ‘saves the planet’ by planting trees in order for companies to offset their perceived ‘carbon footprint’, which allows them to go on putting out carbon. Its major partner seems to be Utility Warehouse.

Nonsense predicated on there being a ‘climate emergency’ (there isn’t); carbon being damaging to the environment (it’s not); and replacing agricultural land with sterile, monoculture pine forests making sense (it doesn’t).

Even so, Stump up for Trees seems to be well-regarded in Corruption Bay among the connoisseurs, practitioners and dispensers of flim-flam, bullshit, propaganda and other means of deceiving poor old Dai Public.

ABATTOIR SECTOR GROUP

This is yet another organisation based in Bristol and set up as recently as 2020. Though it’s not registered as either a company or a charity because it’s an offshoot of the Sustainable Food Trust.

The ABS is dedicated to keeping smaller, rural abattoirs open, and what carnivore (bares fangs!) could argue with that?

Parent body, the Sustainable Food Trust, is an international organisation with a wider remit to support ‘sustainable farming’. By which I assume that it seeks to avoid the wrath of the swivel-eyed with a modified kind of farming that’s less damaging to Mother Earth.

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It is, as I say, based in Bristol, and I see no mention of Wales on the website. The only Welsh connection I can find is founder Patrick Holden, an organic dairy farmer from the Lampeter area.

Holder is a founder of Sustainable Food Trust and current CEO. He was a former director of the Soil Association.

OUR FOOD

You may need to pay attention with this one. For just as with the previous section we have an organisation operating under a different label. There’s even a third label.

Let’s start with the Our Food website. Scroll down and you’ll read: A project of the Conservation Farming Trust Company Number 10823532′. Which the Companies House website confirms as the number for Conservation Farming Trust.

On the Our Food website we also read: ‘This website was built with support from Monmouthshire County Council, the Brecon Beacons National Park, and the Welsh Government. It is part of a process to build a new campaign in the region to secure 1200 acres for regenerative horticulture for local markets.’

The Our Food 1200 website confirms that the figure refers to the acreage the new organisation hopes to be given. At the time of writing 24 acres had been donated. Though, in fairness, Our Food 1200 was only launched in January. It’s registered as a Community Benefit Company.

Let’s go back to the parent organisation, Conservation Farming Trust. The registered office address is in London, and the three directors live in Ireland (1) and England (2). So no Welsh connections there.

And yet, it seems the only funding Our Food gets is from Welsh sources.

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This funding is presumably justified because Our Food 1200 is looking for Welsh land to be donated. This looks very much like One Planet Developments rebranded. (I’m sure I read a reference to ‘OPD’ on the website.)

As with OPDs, those we’ll find on these over-sized allotments are unlikely to be local. So why are we funding it?

And is it a safe bet? I ask because a driving force behind it all seems to be Duncan Mark Fisher, who serves as both secretary and a member of Our Food 1200. Companies House suggests Fisher’s business record is ‘patchy’, to say the least.

The Conservation Farming Trust may have no connection with Wales, but Our Land, and certainly Our Land 1200, are trying to put down roots. Maybe they’re hoping someone will buy them a farm!

More planet-savers promoting climate hysteria, with the ‘Welsh Government’ and others happy to go along with this exploitative, colonialist nonsense.

LANDWORKERS’ ALLIANCE

What you’ve read thus far has been unadulterated, unsubstantiated and unconvincing bullshit (however sincere some of those promoting it), but this final section outdoes it all. For we are now with the horny-handed sons of toil, straight out of The Grapes of Wrath.

Or those who would imagine themselves so to be.

For I now direct your attention to the Landworkers’ Alliance. Scroll down and you’ll see that this crew aligns itself with the International Peasants Movement. (I’m afraid I let my membership lapse.)

When you join you get given a pitchfork and the addresses of local landlords. (Bastards!)

When Dominic and Eugenie re-imagine themselves as peasants you know you’ve gone so far down the rabbit-hole that you run the risk of being shot by an Australian farmer.

And doesn’t it count as cultural appropriation?

The Landworkers’ Alliance was formed in 2015, and has its registered address in Dorset. Here’s the Companies House entry.

The ‘accounts’ – as with all the outfits I’ve dealt with here – are vague, being little more than unaudited statements. Though I can tell you that the latest such statement (y/e 30.09.2020) gives assets at £151,507 (previous year £66,523). But with no indication of where the money came from.

It would also appear to be a Woke organisation. For which we should be thankful, because trans peasants are never far from my thoughts. (I hope it’s the same for you!)

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The directors are resident in England and Scotland with the exceptions of Katharine Anne McEvoy and Gerald Davies Miles, both residents of Pembrokeshire. The former seems to live in Newport, with the latter to be found at Caerhys Organic Community Agriculture (COCA), near St David’s.

I feel a tear well in old Jac’s eye, for we may finally have found a genuine Welsh farmer! Though whether he’ll be in Knighton is another matter.

Looking briefly at the ‘accounts’ for COCA, or rather, the ‘statement of financial position’, we see a paltry £3,154 for y/e 31.03.2022.

I suspect that COCA is a virtue-signalling side-line, with Caerhys farm itself run as a commercial – if organic – agricultural business, including bed & breakfast.

But the irony.

We have sought for centuries to escape being peasants, in our own country; now we face an invasion of land-hungry Green-Left-Woke carrot-growing poseurs wanting to play at being peasants . . . in our country.

CONCLUSION

The sad truth is that farmers have been badly treated under devolution. And it’s happened in identifiable stages.

It began in 1999 with Labour taking control of the new Assembly. A Labour Party in which too many saw farmers as landowners, and therefore capitalists. Though anyone who can lump together a struggling Welsh hill farmer and the Duke of Westminster really does have a problem.

This encouraged others to join in. I’m thinking now of the environmentalists, the planet savers. Though all too often it was their own interests, and the interests of their cronies, that were being served, not those of the planet.

Chief among them was Jane Davidson, Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing from 2007 to 2011. When her Labour Party was in coalition with Plaid Cymru.

Davidson, a wealthy and privately-educated Englishwoman, was determined to impose her will on us, for the benefit of others like her, no matter what the cost. To us.

Thanks to Davidson we saw TAN 6 in July 2010, the ‘Hippies’ Charter’, which allows English drop-outs to build what they like, where they like.

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In January 2014, Alun Davies, the Minister for Natural Resources and Food, announced that 15% of CAP funding would in future be transferred from Pillar One (i.e. farmers) to Pillar 2 (rural development projects).

‘Rural Development Projects’ means those self-serving ‘community’ schemes dreamed up by Jane Davidson’s friends that benefit no one else.

Wales was further blessed, just a year later, with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. Here you see the Act’s objectives, with my comments.

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This legislation is another example of the Left window dressing a looted store (after inciting the looters with talk of ‘victimhood’ and ensuring the police didn’t get involved.)

Bullshit dreamed up to please enviroshysters and pressure groups. Which has achieved nothing for us Welsh. But it allows the ‘Welsh Government’ to say: ‘We were the first government in the world . . . ‘.

And that, for our politicians, is all that really matters.

More recently, we saw Lesley Griffiths (and Gary), introduce legislation to curb pollution of Welsh waterways. This problem is localised, and there are many culprits, including water companies.

But Lesley (and Gary) pretended to believe that the problem is national, and that farmers are solely to blame.

If you believe that traditional farming methods contribute to anthropogenic global warming, then the sensible approach would have been to sit down with farmers and work out a better way forward.

Instead, and from the outset, Labour politicians chose vilification, lies, confrontation, punishment.

An approach that becomes inconsistent, even sinister, when we think again about Knighton on the 17th. Where ‘Welsh Government’ representatives will be rubbing shoulders with lots of . . . well, farmers.

Clearly, the ‘Welsh Government’ has no problem with farmers as such, so perhaps the problem is only with Welsh farmers.

♦ end ♦

 

© Royston Jones 2022


Guest post: ‘A sustainable Wales . . . or not’

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

As it says in the title, this a guest post, and from someone who knows of what they speak. Read it carefully, for it contains valuable insights that you’re unlikely to get elsewhere.

Specifically, this post is about Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ) legislation and the vote on March 3 that saw the ‘Welsh Government’ push through its draconian measures which are simply another attack on our farmers.

The fact that most of the pollution doesn’t even come from farms is not simply irrelevant to Labour politicians, it’s ignored completely.

To understand the bigger picture you must realise that the local branch of the British Labour Party is a statist outfit that wants to control everything and everybody, either directly, or else through its agencies in the third sector and elsewhere.

As the writer explains, Labour politicians don’t like farmers because farmers own land (kulaks, see), and they tend to be independently-minded, with a habit of standing up for themselves. What’s more, they’re adept at recognising bullshit.

So farmers have to go. This will be justified on environmental grounds. Freeing land for hippies, rewilders and foreign investors.

This control-freakery also explains why Wales is a basket-case economy. Labour does not want free-thinking indigenous entrepreneurs, even if they provide jobs and make Wales prosperous. Far better to keep Wales poor, blame somebody else, and keep getting elected.

The resultant poverty can also be justified with envirobollocks – ‘What ew mean ew got no job – look at all them wind turbines saving the planet. You selfish bugger!’

Well, of course, that’s not strictly true. Labour politicians and their third sector cronies will always have jobs. Enviroshysters – almost all of them from outside of Wales – will also have jobs. It’s ordinary Welsh people who lose out.

The message is simple. Don’t vote Labour in May’s Senedd elections. Don’t vote for Plaid Cymru either, because Labour will need a coalition with Plaid to stay in power.

Now read what our guest writer has to say . . .

So, in the last month or so, Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment has pushed on with legislation she said she would not push on with 11 times. This was on the basis that agricultural incidents had not decreased from the 3 a week figure that is regularly quoted. As of 3rd March, the regulations will now progress following the Senedd vote.

There are various figures banded around as to why this has been a trigger point and why such an aggressive move has been taken, in the middle (and it is the middle) of the COVID crisis and indeed the aftermath of the Brexit deal.

This is really a statement piece by the Minister to appeal to the environment lobby and her back benchers in the run up to an election. Facts, figures and advice on the regulation from her own regulator, NRW, have been ignored and politics has been front and centre of the decision. Where to go from here? We’ll come back to that a little later.

Jac adds: Not only has Lesley Griffiths been saying it, but her civil servants have also been saying it in responses to members of the public. Click to enlarge

When it comes to Welsh Government, it’s worth taking a look back to see how things have developed.

Firstly, getting rid of scrutiny and the various committees that have provided review and direction has been a key strategy. The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs (CCERA) Committee has to cover such a broad portfolio that it cannot possibly scrutinise in depth. The simple fact is that scrutiny is now a manufactured process, by invitation if you like, with the environment lobby in the pocket of the Minister, who are anti-agri, anti-fisheries and any other private use of natural resources for economic gain, unless you’re a global investor making a land grab under the guise of rewilding, but we won’t mention that.

Secondly, Welsh Government has struggled for years to work out how they could get their policy objectives imprinted on rural Wales. We’re now in the drive to reverse climate change, de-carbonise and promote Wales to the world as a sustainable nation. Farmers own 70% of our private land. The difficulty with trying to get farmers to comply with change is that they own their land and are a broadly militant and belligerent old bunch who would rather sell a kidney than be told what to do. So, in combination with the agriculture white paper out at the moment consulting on the future farm payments system, Minister Griffiths has slapped an NVZ on the whole of Wales to boot.

When you look at some of the drivers of food industry growth, Minister Griffiths own Food and Drink Strategy 2014 – 2020 has targeted increasing sales by 30% to £7bn turnover. Much rejoicing took place last year when it was proclaimed that Welsh Government had ‘smashed its target’. Now a new strategy needs to be developed and it will be based on ‘sustainability’. It should be remembered that Welsh Government has encouraged and invested in the agri-food sectors rapid growth and the question must be asked as to whether it is now a victim of its own success?

I digress.

You see, if you want a snapshot example of what is in store for agriculture, you only need to look at what Welsh Government has done with another comparator sector over which they have devolved responsibility – fisheries.

A small sector in Wales, but nonetheless regularly rolled out by the Minister with unsubstantiated claims of sustainability for which she now strives. The vast majority of engagement mechanisms with the sector have been withdrawn, because, like farmers, fishermen are too difficult for Welsh Government to deal with.

Unlike agriculture, with land ownership in the hands of farmers, Welsh Government actually does have devolved responsibility for marine and fisheries and in layman’s terms, it owns the sea out to the median line. If there is an example of how not to sustainability management resources, this is it. Regulation, not management, is king, delivering boom and bust fisheries such as our main shellfish species by volume, Whelk, that is exploited largely by businesses outside of Wales. Now where have we heard this before…………oh yes, renewables.

Marine renewables is the Minister’s golden ticket to meeting green energy targets and no one will get in the way. While our many centuries old fishing industry and heritage fisheries such as Teifi Seine nets, coracles and the lave net fisheries on the Severn are regulated (for regulated read bullied) out, the push for action in the climate emergency continues. Fisheries is a shining example of how Welsh Government ‘manages’ its resources and should serve as a warning to what is to come for terrestrial Wales.

So the stage is set for the roll out of the NVZ agricultural pollution regulations that will sit alongside the consultation on the agriculture white paper and an announcement made with regard to the future strategy for the food and drink sector where sustainable food production will be at the core. All very nicely choreographed.

What is amazing in all of this is the almost pathological inability of the Minister to acknowledge the issues caused by sewage outfall and releases by water authorities. This has been documented by the BBC and most recent data provided by the Rivers Trust makes for dire reading. Her responses when questioned on this in Plenary have been evasive to say the least. She doesn’t want to talk about it. She has to get her way with the agri sector to line up the other policy objectives. A savage attack on the proposed regulations took place in the Senedd via a recent Conservative debate and again, while referring to a very recent incident and the ‘one too many’ quote, the reality is that statistically there could have well been another 82 sewage incidents going on the very same day!

I have no doubt that a number of MS’s who have voted on this will not have the foggiest what they are voting for, but will have been lobbied by the ‘bastard farmers’ environment crowd from their Cardiff and London bases. The perverse part of this is that in a drive for Wales to be perceived as one of the world’s most sustainable food producers, Minister Griffiths will designate the whole of the country an NVZ against the advice of her regulator and ignoring the main contributor to water quality issues. How does she think this looks from the outside looking in? We’re a laughing stock.

In sectors that have been under devolved regulation for many years such as fisheries, the Minister now talks about co-management out of regulation with a group they can’t engage with and then at the same time has rejected any suggestion of voluntary co-managed farmer-led approaches to agri pollution that were on the table to move to, yep, you’ve guessed it……..regulation. I would suggest her officials need a Zoom meeting to square the circle here.

L to R: Gary Haggaty, civil servant; Lesley Griffiths MS, Labour, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs; Caroline Hitt, writer for the ‘Western Mail’; Elin Jones MS, Plaid Cymru, Senedd Llywydd (Speaker). The cosiness of Corruption Bay made corporeal in a Dublin bar. Click to enlarge

This will be her modulation moment, akin to the decision made by Alun Davies to move 15% of the budget away from direct payments to Pillar 2 and just look at the success that has been, as highlighted by Wales Audit Office last year and further exposed by Craig Williams MP recently. I could also go into the uplands payments debacle but I won’t.

How the farming unions react to this will be key and a judicial review can be expected. However, there is a wider assault in the offing for rural Wales in the hot off the press Future Wales 2040 in the name of sustainability and climate change. It is a large document, but I would urge anyone who has an interest in the future of this country to read it and then decide how you will vote in May. Future Wales 2040 is the planning template for this country and where this blog has pointed out the follies of various ‘developers’ and ‘investors’, I’m certain we will see more of this to come, at scale.

Without wanting to overstate the position, we may be seeing the managed decline of industries in the same way the coal industry was portrayed – inefficient, dirty and unwanted by those who have never done a hard day’s work in their life. The Valleys have never recovered and now having failed to deliver on economic development, Welsh Government MUST deal with climate change, even if it means forcing through bad regulation to achieve it.

♦ end ♦

 




Why I would vote to abolish the Senedd

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

For this, another of my infrequent, pre-retirement postings, I’ll explain why I would vote to abolish the Senedd in a referendum offering the straight choice of to keep or to abolish.

BACKGROUND

In a recent post, ‘Welsh independence: Why? for whom?’, I explained why, when a teenager, I became convinced that independence was the only answer for Wales. I wrote:

I wanted independence to improve the lives of the people I cared about: my family, my neighbours, my community, and my nation. I wanted independence to protect my country from neglect or exploitation, and to defend what made us Welsh.

Devolution is obviously not independence but still, judged against those criteria devolution has been an abysmal failure. For the only beneficiaries have been cliques, claques, and the assorted parasites of a vast and burdensome stratum smothering the nation.

LET ME GIVE SOME EXAMPLES

While the greater part of Wales, and the nation, has seen no benefits, this constitutional tinkering must have brought some benefits, to someone, somewhere, otherwise it would be universally damned and consequently unsustainable.

So let’s try and identify some beneficiaries. I’ll use examples of us losing out and others benefitting at our expense. (You’ll soon get the hang of it.)

THIRD SECTOR

The ‘stratum’ I referred to earlier is the third sector. Bigger than ever in Wales, and bigger in Wales than in any other country.

Wales is a rich country made poor by English rule, and the Labour Party has capitalised on our deprivation both for electoral gain – by blaming ‘London’ / Tories – and also by using that deprivation to create a whole new ‘poverty sector’ for its cronies.

Wales is now smothering under the weight of duplicating and competing third sector gangs, most of which seem to be staffed by strident memsahibs from over the border. Cohort after cohort of Common Purpose’ finest, goose-stepping from conference to workshop to those regular meetings in which they dictate policy and funding priorities to politicians.

This third sector is fundamentally and irredeemably parasitical. Preying on Wales’ deprivation in order to suck money from the public purse. A vast network of self-polishing turds who would not be missed if they ceased doing tomorrow whatever they claim to be doing today.

Both Labour and the third sector exploit and capitalise on Wales’ poverty and deprivation. If the money wasted on the third sector was spent in combatting that poverty and deprivation then Wales would be a much better place.

ENVIROSHYSTERS

Perhaps to make us feel guilty for wanting decent jobs, decent homes, an acceptable road and rail system, etc., our gaze is directed away from such crass materialism to the altruistic, the selfless, in the form of saving the planet.

This crusade – for it is nothing less! – is done without providing jobs or any other material benefits to us Welsh. This national insult takes many forms.

Here’s a recent re-working of the theme.

Click to enlarge

Is this supposed to be a consolation prize for the Circuit of Wales? Or for more false hopes raised over the TVR car plant? (Which is not coming, by the way.)

Blaenau Gwent is the poorest part of the country. What it needs is decent jobs, housing, NHS dentists, etc., not bullshit publicity stunts from Corruption Bay.

We are told that “50 residents will be selected to create the first Climate Assembly in Wales”. I hope Gwent Police have the riot gear ready for the trouble that will surely erupt in Ebbw Vale and Tredegar as people fight over those 50 places.

Here’s the latest in the ‘Save the planet’ offensive: “I think if political parties are not putting addressing the climate and nature emergencies right at the top of their manifesto agenda then they will be letting down both the current and future generations in Wales,” says Sophie Howe, Labour apparatchik being paid £100,000 a year in a non-job created specially for her.

The message from our leaders is: ‘Wales may be the poorest country in Europe and getting poorer, but fuck that, cos we – on £100,000 a year – are saving the planet’.

I want to see a healthier nation living in a greener land making its contribution to a cleaner planet. But Wales has more immediate priorities. And it’s positively insulting for overpaid Labour Party nobodies to lecture those worrying about feeding their kids and paying their rent.

UPDATE: As if on cue, Nation.Cymru published a piece by Neil Anderson, ‘How can we make the land of our fathers the land of our futures?’ In it we read: “Incoming farmers are likely to be more adventurous and innovative . . . “.

Yet more arrogant – almost racist – envirocolonialism. It seems Kiwi Anderson has been won over to Welsh independence. A reminder that the reason Greens and others are jumping on the indy bandwagon is because they want our land.

GRANNY FARMERS

Wales has the oldest population in Europe and it’s getting older. An unwanted accolade achieved by a number of factors combining. The lack of a decent economy being one. The other is the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ going out of its way to attract elderly people to Wales.

This is done because, due to the lack of a balanced economy in rural areas and the regular exodus of young people that results, population levels need to be maintained; for nothing says ‘area going to hell’ more clearly than a falling population. How better to maintain population levels than by attracting retirees? (Actually, I can think of many better alternatives, but bear with me.)

No only does the ‘Welsh Government’ see no problem with our ageing population, it even tries to present it as something to be celebrated, as I discovered a few years ago in a reply to a Freedom of Information request.

Click to enlarge

An influx encouraged by the ‘Welsh Government’ legislating so that people entering care homes can keep £50,000 before they start paying for their care. The figure for England is £22,500.

Yet the ‘Welsh Government’ would like to go further, doing away with care home charges altogether by introducing a tax so that we actually pay for wealthy English biddies who’ve been dumped in Welsh care homes by relatives safeguarding their inheritances.

How difficult would it be to introduce a rule insisting that a person must have lived in Wales for 20 years prior to entering a care home before they can benefit from the £50,000 allowance?

Do that and Welsh people won’t lose out and we curb the plague of granny dumping.

HOLIDAY HOMES

I recall, back in the 1980s, during the Meibion Glyndŵr campaign, politicians getting up on their hind legs to proclaim that they would not be influenced by ‘terrorists’. God! they sounded so brave and principled. It brought a tear to my eye.

Thirty years on from the end of that campaign, and after 22 years of devolution, nothing has been done beyond the ‘Welsh Government’ allowing councils to impose a 100% surcharge on holiday home council tax. But it has refused to close the loophole that sees holiday homes classed as businesses to escape council tax entirely.

Oh, I almost forgot, there is also a tiny and insignificant increase in Land Transaction Tax of one per cent per valuation band, introduced 22 December. Which is no deterrent at all to those who can buy a second, third, or fourth home.

In fact, the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ refuses to do anything that might save Welsh communities and allow Welsh people to buy a home in areas cursed with tourism. When pressed on the matter just yesterday by the impressive Delyth Jewell the woeful Julie James could only respond with a promise to . . . kick the issue into the long grass.

From BBC Wales’ ‘Senedd Live’ 03.02.2021 (Alun Jones). Click to enlarge

With the holiday homes problem at crisis levels due to Coronavirus, with Welsh communities being destroyed before our eyes, the fact that those useless bastards down Corruption Bay refuse to act should tell you all you need to know about devolution.

NATIONAL LIBRARY OF WALES

In the past few days we’ve seen the outcry as the ‘Welsh Government’ decided it couldn’t fund the National Library of Wales.

Wales has a ‘government’ that can find money for every lunatic outfit under the sun but cannot find money for the memory of the nation!

Eventually, those clowns did find something down the back of the settee but only after an online petition and a public outcry.

But you have to wonder who made the initial decision not to fund.

THE WAR ON FARMERS

Part of the problem lies in the fact that devolution is controlled by civil servants who may be based in Wales but take their orders from London. Civil servants such as Gary Haggaty, beau to Lesley Griffiths, the Labour MS for Wrecsam, and Minister for the Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs.

L to R: Gary Haggaty, civil servant; Lesley Griffiths MS, Labour, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs; Caroline Hitt, writer for the ‘Western Mail’; Elin Jones MS, Plaid Cymru, Senedd Llywydd (Speaker). The cosiness of Corruption Bay made corporeal in a Dublin bar. Click to enlarge

Last week, Gary and Lesley – despite promising to consult with farmers before doing anything – introduced legislation to deal with the localised problem of spillage (NVZ) into watercourses. Instead of tackling the guilty parties the lovebirds have imposed financial burdens on all farmers to ensure that they cannot in future do what they weren’t doing anyway.

I quote, again from yesterday’s ‘Senedd Live’:

“Plaid Cymru’s Llyr Gruffydd says the minister is on the record as saying that these Nitrate Vulnerable Zone regulations would not be introduced while the pandemic was in existence – no less than ten times.”

It was eleven times, and here’s the video evidence.

And many of these spillages have nothing to do with farmers. I am reliably informed that the testing done by Natural Resources Wales (yes, them!) cannot differentiate between farm slurry and raw sewerage from other sources.

And let’s remember that the biggest spillage ever occurred last year when a train transporting oil from Milford Haven derailed near Llanelli. No doubt, in a few years time, when people start forgetting about it, it will be blamed on farmers and used to introduce legislation even more burdensome.

This is just the latest assault in a war on Welsh farmers by the ‘Welsh Government’. Done because ‘Welsh’ Labour hates farmers, and also because there are others queuing up to take over Welsh land. Friends of Jane Davidson, ‘rewilders’, Tory MPs.

Significantly, in England, the NVZ legislation targets problem areas and culprits rather than penalising all farmers.

So, we see that under devolution Welsh farming is another area of our national life being targeted and damaged. And it could not have happened without devolution. Because if London had singled out Welsh farmers for such treatment there would have been rioting, and possibly worse.

I could give plenty more examples where devolution has failed us. Here are just a few snapshots:

  • There’s colonisation, resulting in the Welsh element in the population decreasing year on year. As a prominent citizen of a border town told me a few weeks back: “Some of the attitudes retired people come here have towards the locals are shocking, their sense of superiority is unbelievable.”
  • Then there’s a crass and exploitative form of tourism that is destroying Welsh communities, especially Welsh-speaking communities.
  • No other country on Earth has allowed One Planet Developments. Yet here in Wales hippies and enviroshysters are encouraged to take over land, flout planning and other regulations, bring up children in unsanitary and dangerous conditions, and then this colonisation is justified as part of OUR contribution to saving the planet.
  • Under devolution we have seen Cardiff grow and prosper, largely at the expense of the rest of Wales.
  • Wales produces twice as much electricity as we need and the rest goes to England free of charge, the same applies to our water resources, stolen by Severn Trent. 
  • The ‘Welsh Government’ pays some of our brightest young people to go to English universities and then makes no attempt to bring them home after graduation. While filling our universities with mediocrities from over the border who stay on to fill third sector and public sector jobs. 
  • Publicly-funded housing associations build ‘affordable’ homes that most locals can’t afford while neglecting the social rented sector for which there’s a local demand.
  • Let’s not forget the shysters – so many of whom have appeared on this blog – who get showered with funding after turning up with their ‘exciting’, ‘job-creating’ projects meticulously outlined on the back of a fag packet.
  • Then there’s the cess-pit that is Cardiff Bay, where those we elect to represent us rub shoulders daily with unregistered lobbyists and others trying to influence them – and almost always against the best interests of the nation.

FINALLY, A VERY TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY EXAMPLE

This pretence of devolved power is a very thin veil behind which England’s interests are served. A great example was supplied to me last week by someone involved in matters technological which went a bit over my head, but I’m sure you’ll get the gist of it.

This source wrote:

” . . . dotCYM had no hope when Plaid Cymru was useless, Labour and the civil servants were working against it, and then Nominet came in with their money and used it to destroy them. The money from .cymru and .wales domains are now going to Oxford instead of Wales.”

The source continued:

“The Welsh government is clever in creating schemes to develop Welsh language technology and software. They come out with a new scheme with millions to develop Welsh software but there’s a maximum of about 30k per project, which isn’t enough to get anywhere or develop anything of use. Also, the money they give for research into Welsh language technology comes with the proviso that the research is then open sourced. What happens then is that large companies from outside Wales can take it, add it to their software as token Welsh support that doesn’t work well, and then sell it back to the Welsh”.

My source then explained to me what’s happening in New Zealand, where those working on a similar project for the Maori language successfully fought against their work becoming open source. The Maoris defended their stance thus:

“By simply open sourcing our data and knowledge, we further allow ourselves to be colonised digitally in the modern world.”

THE TRUTH DAWNS

More and more people grasp that devolution is an unworkable nonsense, even if they don’t understand why. This explains the growing polarisation between those wanting to do away with the Senedd and those wanting independence.

When all devolution’s defenders can muster is, ‘But it’s recognition’, or ‘free bus passes’, then you know that even they have given up.

Successive ‘Welsh’ Assembly Governments and ‘Welsh Governments’ have not only failed to remedy the problems inherited in 1999 they have introduced new measures to work against the national interest.

This is not what I voted for in the September 1997 referendum. It’s no exaggeration to say that what we’ve experienced over the past 22 years is a form of anti-Welsh devolution.

Consequently, in a referendum offering the simple choice between keeping the Senedd or abolishing it I would vote to abolish, because abolition would be the best option for the greatest number of Welsh people.

But I still want independence.

♦ end ♦