‘This land is (y)our land’?

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

In recent years I’ve written a few articles – too many to list here – about the unrelenting assault on Welsh farming and rural life. A campaign that sees Welsh politicians used as puppets by senior civil servants serving interests other than those of Wales and Welsh people.

This post is in the form of an update.

THE GATHERING STORM

Arraigned against our farmers are politicians in London of assorted political hues, left-‘Green’ politicians in Corruption Bay, civil servants linking Westminster and Whitehall with Cardiff docks, and land-grabbing ‘environmentalists’ who tend to be either strident memsahibs or darlings of the Guardianistas.

Last week, during a Skype-enabled session of the Senedd, Lesley Griffiths AM, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs – working on the principle that a pandemic is a good time to slip out bad news – announced the release of Draft Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) Regulations 2020.

The timing certainly surprised and angered our farming unions. National Farmers Union Cymru was ‘astonished’, while  the Farmers Union of Wales agreed that the proposals are ‘draconian’.

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Now on the one hand, we all want cleaner water. But it looks as if Ms Griffiths and her friends have been over-zealous in their attempts to give us crystal clear rills, rivers we can cross by walking on the backs of spawning salmon, and lakes home to old slappers catching the swords that are regularly chucked in.

But on the other hand, we don’t want to drive farmers out of business using sly and underhand methods. Well, I don’t, but there are some who do, and Ms Griffiths is an ally of theirs, possibly no more than a tool.

In both statements you will see reference to Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ). This term is used to describe areas, “that contain surface water or groundwater that is susceptible to nitrate pollution from agricultural activities”.

The percentage of Welsh land designated NVZ currently stands at 2.4% (750 farm holdings) and there was an understanding that the percentage would increase – Natural Resources Wales recommended 8% – but Ms Griffiths has proposed that the whole country becomes a NVZ. (So you’ll understand the response of the farming unions.)

A NVZ consultation process launched by the ‘Welsh Government’ 29 September 2016 ended 23 December 2016, with the findings being published just over two years ago. You can read the ‘summary of response’ here.

A flick through those responses makes it clear that farmers’ bodies were outnumbered by angling clubs and environment groups, a number of them Englandandwales bodies. (I’m thinking here of the National Trust, the RSPB, Marine Conservation Society and the Angling Trust.) And the way the responses came in suggest that members and supporters were whipped into line.

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One question considered the effects of an All-Wales NVZ on the Welsh language. There was a majority view that enforcing an All-Wales regime would be damaging to the Welsh language because the (often unnecessary) expense involved could prove too much for the smaller family farm. But in the very last paragraph we read:

“One respondent who agreed with the question thought language should not be a fundamentally important factor in any new regulations. However, it was essential that a Welsh identity was maintained through clean waters and a beautiful countryside.”

So there you have it. Remove Welsh-speaking farming families and Welsh identity will be perpetuated by the water nymphs and sword-catching slappers to which I heretofore alluded.

But I repeat, I want to see clean rivers and lakes; it’s just that I believe this can – and must – be achieved without waging war on the farming community. Which is what it seems motivates Ms Griffiths and her pals, using the findings of a consultation process skewed by those with many years experience in such dark arts.

This proposal to extend NVZ must not be looked at in isolation, for it is part of a wider strategy to ‘discourage’ traditional farming and open up the Welsh countryside to new ideas . . . and a new population.

The assault began in May 2009 with the publication of ‘One Wales: One Planet’. This is what the UN had to say about it:

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Which means that pleasing a few thousand hippies and eco-fanatics was seen to be more important than providing an economy, a health service, an education system an infrastructure, and all the other things needed by three million people.

And remember! in 2009 Wales was managed by a Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition.

‘One Wales: One Planet’ led, in October 2012, to the ‘Welsh Government’s Technical Advice Note (TAN) 6, which allowed One Planet Developments. A measure intended to attract hippies into Wales and allow them to build what they like, wherever they choose; with local planning authorities forced to give them planning permission, often retrospectively.

Wales is the only country in the world to have enacted this hippies’ charter.

Next, in December 2013, we saw Alun Davies, then Minister for Natural Resources and Food (therefore Ms Griffiths’ predecessor) transfer 15% of EU Common Agricultural Policy funding from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2. In practice, this saw £286m taken from farmers and allocated to rural development projects.

No prizes for guessing what ‘rural development projects’ means, and who benefits.

Fifteen per cent was the maximum permitted by the EU and the ‘Welsh Government’ showed its attitude to farmers by going for broke.

Then we had the Well-being of Future Generation Act (Wales) Act 2015 promising sunshine, lollipops and roses . . . and cushy jobs for Labour Party cronies. Such as the first Future Generations Commissioner herself. Sophie Howe is the daughter of a former Cardiff Labour councillor, and previously worked for Alun Michael, erstwhile Labour MP and now South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner.

No other country entertains anything like this bullshit.

More recently we have seen the arrival of the memsahibs and the Monbiots demanding huge swathes of our homeland in which they can play silly buggers. I’ve dealt with this in The Welsh Clearances of 16 October 2018 and a number of times since. Just type ‘rewilding’ or ‘Summit to Sea’ in the search box on top of the sidebar to find these further contributions.

And to cap it all, we have recently seen outbursts from ‘trendy metropolitan eco-zealots’ and swivel-eyed advisers to Boris Johnson promoting the same idiocies.

ÉMINENCE GRISE

There is is no question that influencers have been working on the ‘Welsh Government’ for a decade or more, and they have tended to be men with little understanding of or sympathy for farming, and very often a poorly concealed hostility towards Welsh farmers.

We should not be surprised therefore that through the malign influence of this cabal Welsh farming has been weakened by one cut after another, to the advantage of the hippies, the memsahibs and the Monbiots.

They always encourage legislation against farmers, nothing is ever done for farmers.

Most of those I’m referring to have been mentioned in previous blog posts, but now I want to focus on one who has been rather overlooked, Gary Haggarty. No, this is not Gary Haggarty, the UVF killer and supergrass, but Gary Haggarty, former Rural Director for the ‘Welsh Government’.

‘Shared vision, united approach and consistent messaging are crucial to success’. Did you ever hear such vapid sound bites! Click to enlarge

But more importantly, Haggarty is the partner of Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in the ‘Welsh Government’. Their affair was kept secret for quite some time but has been widely known about for at least a year.

Haggarty has form, for he is said to be the genius behind the decision to take money off farmers with the 2013 ‘Pillars’ decision.

Responsibility for replacing of the Tir Mynydd scheme with the unpopular Glastir arrangement is also laid at his door. Glastir tends to regard traditional Welsh farming as just another rural activity, little different to organic hobby farming. Which of course fits perfectly with the overall strategy.

When Brexit came along Haggarty saw another weapon he could use and he rolled it out with the September 2018 consultation document, ‘Brexit and our land: Securing the future of Welsh farming’. The second element in that title is quite insulting considering what we know about Haggarty’s attitude to farming and farmers.

The ‘Welsh Government’s response to the results of the consultation process is contained in this document.

A further publication in July 2019 was ‘Sustainable Farming and our Land’, which was described by its ‘author’, Lesley Griffiths, as ‘revised proposals’ following the responses received to the ‘Brexit and our land’ consultation, also ‘authored’ by Griffiths.

Or were they, because of course the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs was in a relationship with a man on a mission to bring Welsh farmers to heel? And so I have no doubt that he wrote most of what appeared in these publications. And she was happy to let him do it.

Which means that a man with not a single democratic vote to his name is dictating policy to the wretched and useless ‘Welsh Government’. And Gary Haggarty is not the only one.

So much for devolution!

This relationship was known about in Cardiff Bay for a long time, but Haggarty was only reassigned when it became public knowledge. Yet the relationship was improper whether it was public knowledge or not. They should have been separated, professionally, as soon as the affair became known about.

BEST OF FRIENDS

As I say, the relationship between Griffiths and Haggarty is now out in the open, as shown by the image below, taken in a Dublin bar on 8 February, the day of the Ireland v Wales rugby international.

On the left we see the happy couple, and on the right, Elin Jones, the Plaid Cymru AM for Ceredigion and Llywydd (Speaker) in the Senedd. And is that Llais y Sais columnist Carolyn Hitt behind Jones? If so, what’s a nice girl like her doing there?

Gary entertaining the ladies with his Stan Laurel face. Click to enlarge

You could say that seeing Labour and Plaid Cymru politicians sharing a convivial jar in a Temple Bar pub shows how civilised Welsh politics is. Not really.

Could you imagine Elin Jones sharing a Guinness with Andrew R T Davies, or his successor, Paul Davies? Or enjoying a snifter and a risqué joke with Mostyn? (Neil Hamilton, to you.)

And if Neil McEvoy had walked through the door Elin Jones would have screamed, switched off his microphone, summoned the gardaí and demanded that they drag him off to Kilmainham to be summarily executed.

Let Uncle Jac interpret that photograph for you. What it says is this: In next year’s Assembly elections Labour will fall well short of a majority of seats, consequently its only hope of staying in power lies in a coalition with Plaid Cymru. Therefore a vote for Plaid Cymru in 2021 will be a vote for Labour.

So don’t be fooled by the playful sparring you’ll see in the election campaign. It’s only done to fool mug punters. Don’t you be one of them!

Something else that strikes me is that Elin Jones, from a farming background, has no problem socialising with people inflicting so much pain on Welsh farming. A testimony to the amnesiac qualities of the Cardiff Bay air.

Or possibly Deryn Consulting.

AND, FINALLY . . .

There was a piece of good news for our farmers last week. And unwelcome news for those wanting to displace them. For that’s where we’re at: two sides, one still in possession of its ancestral land, and the other prepared to use all manner of tactics to take possession.

This is semi-naked colonialism, with native ‘friendlies’ who have jumped into bed with the enemy justifying their treachery by pretending it’s done for the greater good of saving the planet.

The news I’m referring to is that academics conclude that planting trees everywhere, which is what many of the would-be ethnic cleansers advocate, would do more harm than good for the environment.

“The report comes from the Natural Capital Committee (NCC), which says planting trees into peat bogs would prove a serious mistake.”

But don’t worry, for those pulling Lesley Griffith’s strings will still want wind turbines plonked on peat, to cause flooding and other problems – and it will all be done in order to save the planet!

Left to these people, Welsh identity itself will be destroyed . . . to save the planet. Gesture politics all the way.

Devolution does not work for us Welsh. Devolution benefits a colonial management class that just rubber-stamps decisions made by strangers acting against the Welsh national interest. We must move on to independence and reclaim our country from both our external enemies and their internal allies.

♦ end ♦

 

 

UPDATE 16.04.2020: Conservative MPs from Wales have written to Lesley Griffiths condemning her treatment of Welsh farmers over NVZ. (Did they also send Gary a copy?) Will Plaid Cymru also defend our farmers, or will they side with their Labour friends? (Available here in pdf.)

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39 thoughts on “‘This land is (y)our land’?

  1. Wynne

    As you say Jac, a pandemic is a good time to slip out bad news. Copy below of my request to Welsh Government for information sent today, 12 April. The cost / benefit analysis contained within the R I A may make interesting reading. Will forward a copy when received.

    To: Welsh Government – Minister for Environment Energy and Rural Affairs – Lesley Griffiths AM

    I note that Welsh Ministers’ Code of Practice on the carrying out of Regulatory Impact Assessments [R I A] was considered in relation to “Water Resources [Control of Agricultural Pollution] [Wales] Regulations 2020” and that a R I A has been prepared as to the likely costs and benefits of complying with these regulations. I would be pleased to receive a copy of the R I A at your earliest convenience as I understand a copy is available from Welsh Government at Cathays Park Cardiff. Thank you.

    Regards

    1. As we know, Wynne, the ‘Welsh Government’ very often begins the process with ‘findings’ and then works backwards, sometimes it doesn’t even bother coming up any methodology or justification. And if nobody asks for it, then why bother? That’s why they must be so grateful to you for keeping them on their toes.

      1. Wynne

        I was previously advised in a letter from Lesley Griffiths that I should contact the National Assembly [not Welsh Government] to obtain a copy of the RIA. That conflicts with information published in the draft regulations that clearly states that the RIA is available from Welsh Government. I await their reply.

  2. Wynne

    Abstract below from statement from Farmers Union of Wales

    “the Welsh Government’s Regulatory Impact Assessment – which has not been published – fails to follow the Government’s own guidance, as it fails to present and assess a comprehensive range of options.”

    I have now also requested a copy of the guidance published by Welsh Government setting out the criteria to be taken into consideration when preparing RIA. Certainly, the “cost v benefit” of a range of options should be considered not only the “cost v benefit” of a single option.

    Although Welsh Government have been reluctant in the past to provide copy of RIA, redirecting me to the National Assembly for the information, the following abstract from page 3 of the draft regulations makes it clear that the document is available from Welsh Government for scrutiny.

    “The Welsh Ministers’ Code of Practice on the carrying out of Regulatory Impact Assessments was considered in relation to these regulations. As a result, a regulatory impact assessment has been prepared as to the likely costs and benefits of complying with these regulations. A copy can be obtained from the Welsh Government, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NQ”

    1. Dafis

      The confusion arises because many of the participants don’t know from day to day whether they are “in the Assembly/Senedd” or “in Government”. They spend so much time deferring to others, or setting out to anticipate the wishes of certain fashionable or powerful lobbies, that they can’t tell the difference between objective analysis and a fuckin’ good stitch up. Even more confusing for poor old Lesley when the zany ideas are coming from the guy who makes her bed springs squeak !

      1. Wynne

        Point taken Dafis. When I have previously expressed concerns regarding the content of a RIA prepared by Welsh Government I have been informed that it is the role of National Assembly [not the general public] to scrutinise the document. In other words, do not ask awkward questions. I question whether the necessary expertise is available in Assembly Committees to vet what are technical documents containing detailed “cost v benefit” appraisals. In my view the problem lies in the Assembly assessment process when it is assumed that the proper “cost v benefit” appraisal process has been followed by Welsh Government. That process is often accepted by Assembly Committees without challenge. The devil is always in the detail and unless that detail is examined carefully it results in bad legislation.

        1. Dafis

          Sad state of affairs when a member of the public, like yourself, displays the right kind of inquisitive, enquiring mind and all it arouses is a defensive evasive stance. The questions you ask go to the heart of procedure not just has “a procedure” been followed. I suspect that a lot of what goes on in the Bay is processed through a rather superficial procedure because that permits the kind of elasticity we now witness.

          Get elected, you could be a serious pain for those who seek a quiet life.

          1. Wynne

            I can return the compliment Dafis. If you also stand for election we can both shake up the system. Perhaps Brychan can also join us to send further shock waves. That, of course, would be under a new administration with Jac as First Minister and Big Gee as Presiding Officer.

            1. Dafis

              You possess the ability to analyse highly detailed material, identify good bits and isolate the shallow, the ambiguous and the downright dodgy. You then compose well structured letters that enquire and criticise as necessary. All good stuff that needs talent and tenacity. Compared to that I’m just an irritating bastard
              who has occasional bouts of hate preaching. Still, there’s plenty of work to be undertaken so I won’t be giving up the sniping just yet !

  3. Jonathan Edwards

    We really do have to watch the anglers. To catch a sewin their way you get in your BMW, drive to somewhere near Llandeilo and book quietly into a comfortable gastropub with rooms near the Tywi. You then quietly fish at dusk or dawn. The only clue to your presence is the BMW quietly half-parked on the verge of the A40 near Pontargothi, or quietly up the Cothi somewhere. When you leave your Angling outfit quietly lobbies London, because that’s where the Environment Agency is/was. Which then leans on Cardiff. Quietly. Job done. Fait accompli. By the time the Welsh wake up, coraclemen say, its far too late and they (and we) are screwed.

      1. Dafis

        Plenty of displaced middle class suburbanites in Sir Gar too. These are the plonkers that demand sanitised agri – no smell of cowshit and silage – and don’t tolerate farmers dressed for work riding tractors splashing the odd dash of slurry down country lanes. These useless moaners, some are returning Welshies who made a few bucks in London, like to renew links with likes of any old elevated earl, lord or sir with whom they worked in their good old days. They bend their ears and create another patch of goodwill towards the green flyboys and hostility towards our farmers. Informal lobbying can be very effective for these types.

        Like the “Cofiwch Dryweryn” slogan we need a punchy two or three word quip that sums up the sentiment ” If you don’t like cowshit fuck off back to your luvely clean air cities !”

    1. Andrew

      Unfortunately not too many of us welsh anglers can afford the BMW‘s you seem to think we all have. Most of us are members of associations set up by miners, steelworkers, factory workers, builders etc . The minority of farmers who disperse the toxic agricultural slurry which Has decimated fish stocks and wild life bring shame on the majority of farmers who do care for the environment. It’s not all farmers , but mainly the intensive farms greedy for more money. Angling and wildlife has been more or less wiped out by the greedy few, hence the long awaited environmental controls. Nothing to do with colonialism, nothing to do with lefties or luvvies just long overdue environmental controls.

      1. I agree with you, Andy, a small number of farmers get the majority a bad name. That being so, why make life more difficult for the law-abiding majority? It’s not fair. Increase the punishments for those who break the law.

        And while wealthy anglers from over the border may not be much of a problem in the north, on certain rivers in the south, or stretches of those rivers, they are an increasing problem.

        And I’m not even sure that the problem is mainly found with intensive farming. On the maps I looked at (which I can’t bloody find now!) the problem is focused in the south west, the dairy farming region.

        But over and above these considerations we have a pattern going back to 2009 that has seen farmers suffer one blow after another as the Welsh countryside has simultaneously been made more attractive to other elements, from hippies to ‘rewilders’. It may be no coincidence that dairy farming, concentrated in Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, has experienced the NVZ regime in recent years, and this is also the area seeing the bulk of OPD settlements, often on what were small family farms.

        And then there’s the issue of unelected civil servants answering to London dictating policy in Wales. This is not devolution. This is just direct rule from behind a mask.

      2. Jonathan Edwards

        If only we could trust environmental controls. In Sir Gaer, on the Tywi, they worked against the blue-collar guy ie coraclemen, and canoeists, and in favour of the BMW crowd who want the Tywi to be theirs alone. In Sir Gaer, on the cocklebeds, environmental controls have not stopped the deposit of e.coli (cachu to you and me) on the cockles, thus holding back a multi-million pound earner for Wales if done right. And don’t get me going on the (lack of) environment controls on the Cardiff Grounds, another fishing area for the sea-angler ie the “regular guy”. And now you’ve started me on this, what about the scallop dredging in Cardigan Bay? Dashed hope of bringing back local fisheries for local men. Whose side are you on? Me, I back local Welsh men who need work and could do well (and buy BMWs) if they are given the chance. Ask Dai in Llansteffan

      3. Brychan

        When an excess of slurry gets directly into watercourses, it does kill fish. This is due to an ‘algae bloom’ where microscopic plant life are boosted by high nitrates in the fertiliser, this results in de-oxygenation of the water, and hence kills fish. These rare ‘overspills of slurry’ are usually lagoon breaches due to poor slurry management and there have been a few prosecutions.

        These rare farm cases form a minority of incidents in our rural areas, the majority of such pollution incidents are in fact sewer breaches of domestic waste water.

        So what accounts for decline of fish in our rivers and steams?

        We need to look at the science rather than the dogma, and the science of fish stocks takes into account the whole eco-system, flow, microscopic plant and animal life, small vertebrates, the stuff that feeds the fish. There are also consideration of the ‘life at sea’ for migratory species like sewin and salmon. The best comparison with rivers in Wales is that with Ireland, which has the same topography, rainfall and ecosystem.

        Here are articles that explain the science.
        https://oldrivershannon.com/author/ecofactireland/
        Andrew – Please read and circulate.

        The REAL threat to fish stocks in Welsh rivers is not farmers, it’s ‘not so green’ energy schemes where flow from reservoirs are managed in favour of small hyro-schemes lower downstream, barriers to migratory species, changes to seasonal flow, and disturbance to ‘sponge filters’ in the form of upland peat deposits from constructing wind turbines, clear felling of forestry plantations and non-native flora and fauna (crustations) which upset the natural balance of river quality.

        Fishermen tend to be an intelligent bunch. So perhaps they should look to the science rather than the gobshite from civil servants with an agenda to eradicate farming. To sum up my comment, I recommend using maggots and flies to catch fish, and when you’re not fishing, it’s the maggots and flies which the fish still seek.

  4. Brychan

    The Welsh Government is told what to do by their masters in London. The basis of Welsh Government policy is explained by Alun Davies AM (Labour), in his role as Deputy Minister for Agriculture. It was at the Welsh Affairs Committee of the Westminster House on 8th November 2012. The subject in question was “The future of Dairy Farming In Wales”

    https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmwelaf/c715-i/c71501.htm

    “There is a strong commitment, and I have made a personal commitment, that when we are negotiating as a UK ministerial team we should speak with a single UK voice. That UK voice might have different accents and different tones and different emphasis at different times to represent the needs and diversities of the different administrations and countries of the United Kingdom, but we should recognise that we are single member state and that it is important to argue a common case. I believe-and the Foreign Secretary has been very helpful in this matter-that we should work as a team to ensure that the UK’s voice is strengthened in European negotiations by having not only UK Government Ministers but Ministers from the devolved administrations sitting at the desk, at the table, speaking on behalf of the UK, taking part in council meetings and negotiations as a part of the United Kingdom delegation. That has already happened on a number of different occasions, and the memorandum of understanding we have between ourselves and the UK Government allows that to happen as a regular part of our discourse.” – Alun Davies.

    At this ‘donkey sesh’, Alun was accompanied by Gary Haggarty.

    The Baldrick for Haggarty is Jon Westlake, who was formally working for the Windfarm Development Executive at the Forestry Commission where he boasts of selling off huge acreages of publicly owned land for wind farms. This was before becoming the Deputy Head of Division, Welsh Government; tasked with change of land Use, CAP replacement and Agriculture policy.

    https://uk.linkedin.com/in/jon-westlake-46822685

    So how do they come up with ‘policy’? It is explained here in the “Walk and Talk”, a kind of executive crwydro. They don a knapsack, a stout pair of boots and take a wander into the national park to discuss what to do with the landscape.

    https://governance.beacons-npa.gov.uk/documents/s38773/Biodiversity%20Champion%20report%20to%20AGM.pdf

    So there you have it. Once they are told what to do with Wales by their masters in London, they just appoint a few flunkies with no scientific expertise, take a ramble in the ‘countryside’ to decide on policy. No surprise that they come up with schemes that has no understanding of rural economy and try to impose a regime that puts the livelihood of the native population at risk. Why does Plaid Cymru vote for this horse shit?

    1. Brilliant stuff, Brychan. A civil service controlled from London makes a mockery of devolution.

      One of the documents I linked to, Sustainable Farming and our Land, gives the following address for responses. I suggest ‘Land Management Reform Division’ tells us a lot about the purpose of this unit.

      Reform

  5. Dafis

    Interesting to see Eluned Morgan getting all possessive about her “mandate”. So much for the spirit of cooperation between the parties. Labour’s sense of entitlement shines through. Obviously Drakeford just wants Opposition members involved to carry bags for his VIP ministers. Will Adam have the courage to challenge Madame’s tantrum or will he back off ( as suggested by Deryn and Leanne)?

  6. Brychan

    Designation of whole of Wales as an NVZ.

    Obviously there is a need for ‘blanket’ legislation on slurry management, as defined in the EU guidance, stuff like two valves in the outflow pipe in a slurry lagoon to prevent accidental spillage or spare volume for such a lagoon to contain a few months worth of poo, in case of an elongated season of no-spread.

    These technical enhancements should, and do, apply in England, Scotland and Wales.

    Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, however, is where sampling of water courses indicates some more stringent measures need to be enforced. This is where there are a high density of dairy farms or in the case of some parts of lowland England where there is application of artificial nitrogen fertiliser for arable crops. In Wales the existing NVZs are the Teifi, Twyi and Dyfrdwy catchments. The same apply in England around the Trent, and in Scotland, the Tay. Below are the maps.

    Scotland

    https://tinyurl.com/w6bajzu

    England

    https://tinyurl.com/qmz3mpa

    Wales

    Map unavailable. Anyone found it?

    The new proposal by the Welsh Government is to make the whole of Wales an NVZ. This is based on political dogma rather than the science, and it’s effect would be to include all family farm smallholdings, even where there are no measured adverse effect on water courses. It is a non-scientific based attack on the rural economy. In other words, a small family farm without a slurry lagoon (like a few veal calves) who use a manure pile in the corner of a field will now have to invest hundreds of thousands of pounds in a lagoon, even where the water course sampling show there is no need.

    I have tried to make this comment ‘simple’ and it’s based on the work of Dr. Will O’Connor on designations of NVZs in Ireland. He’s a senior ecologist who has over 25 year’s professional experience, a graduate of the University of Wales, Cardiff, and the National University of Ireland, Galway. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, and a full member of both the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and the Institute of Fisheries Management. He is a Chartered Environmentalist and a Chartered Biologist. He’s quoted by Defra in England and by the Environment Agency in Scotland, but not in Wales.

    However, I cannot see any scientific merit in the soundbite ramblings of Haggarty and Westlake, and it’s obvious that our minister, Lesley Griffiths has no understanding of the issues involved.

    1. I’m told that pressure is also being applied on Griffiths by the anti-Welsh and/or anti-farming element within her own party. Joyce Watson AM has been mentioned.

    2. Brychan

      Something rather bizarre, Jac. You provided a link to this.

      https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/consultations/2018-07/brexit-and-our-land-consultation-summary-leaflet_0.pdf

      Check out the photo of the milking parlour.
      Easily identified and I found the same one, here.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pg2fZwlbc0c%5Bremovetoplay%5D
      Why subtitles? He’s speaking in English.

      This farm is Drysgolgoch, Llanfrynach, Tegryn, Penfro. For the Welsh Government to use the photo to justify extending the need to the rest of Wales and to include much smaller family farms is a bit cowin lush.

      Some might say WG is being dishonest.

      1. Yes, that is a substantial outfit, unrepresentative of most dairy farms, and nothing like the hill farms in my area. It was therefore misleading for the ‘Welsh Government’ to use it as representative of Welsh farming. It’s the smaller family farms that will suffer from what is being proposed because the proposed legislation is being enforced on farms that cause no problem.

        I suspect the subtitles are there for those who might have trouble with his ‘thick’ Welsh accent. I also note the address in Llanfrynach, which is where Mansel Davies milk tankers are based.

        Will try to find the map I turned up earlier.

      2. I’ve found a number of sites where the map is supposed to be, but it’s either not there, or the link doesn’t open. Very odd.

        1. Brychan

          Yep. That’s what I noticed. The NRW interactive and zoomable map (same app as flood warnings) used to provide an overlay matrix of nitrate sampling sites, cases of pollution, as well as a clickable option for displaying existing and enhanced NVZs. This has been removed. I wonder why? It appears they are trying to impose a policy which is not supported by the science and data, so have removed it from public view.

            1. Brychan

              That map you show is at least pre-2016.

              Since the new EU directive there’s a statutory responsibility (falls on NRW) to conduct testing on water courses, the threshold being something like 5mg/l. The testing enabled NVZs to be established on the basis of sound data. Last year, when an interactive maps was available, this did include huge areas of the Teifi and Tywi catchments, as well as Crymych area.

              The logic is that there are ‘closed’ seasons for muck spreading, with tighter restrictions inside the NVZs. In Scotland, this year some areas of NVZs are lifted while other catchments added, depending on the data. However, in Wales the published data is now suppressed, presumably because the ‘all Wales’ imposition is that of dogma penalising all farmers rather than being based on sound science and data.

              Somewhere, Defra in England (2019) published a UK wide testing results table, as they had to include the northern counties of Ireland when there wasn’t a devolved administration there.

  7. Brychan

    I can confirm that the mysterious lady in the photo taken in Dublin, showing Elin Jones AM (llywydd), Lesley Giffiths AM (minister) along with her new muffin and senior civil servant, Gary Haggarty, is indeed Carolyn Hitt. Carolyn is a kind of Dic Siân Dafydd, originally from Rhondda who went off to Hertfordshire to study English and launched her career with BBC Oxford.

    Upon her return she became a rugby correspondent for the Wasting Mule, a type of locker room journalist, the sort that wouldn’t work on Carmarthenshire referees.

    https://jacothenorth.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Lesley-Griffiths.png

    The question arises is why she’s hob-nobbing with AMs and civil servants in Dublin pubs on the date of the Irish game. Perhaps it’s Elin Jones has been lined up for the new Welsh prop?

    1. Regarding Ms Hitt, I have no strong feelings either way, though I have detected a more ‘patriotic’ tenor to her writings in recent years. Less of the vacuous ‘Polly Filler’ stuff.

      She was obviously very fond of her later mother, and I encountered the lady myself some years ago. It was in 2001, before the census of that year. There was considerable anger at the omission of a ‘Welsh’ tick box on the census form. I believe we were expected to tick the ‘British’ box and write ‘Welsh’ somewhere else on the form. This was obviously unacceptable to many, many people.

      Questions were raised by politicians in both the Commons and the Assembly, but to no avail. The Office of National Statistics said it was too late to change anything on the 2001 census form but promised to look at the matter and correct it for the 2011 census. (Which they did.) To make sure the ONS and the London government got the message a campaign was organised using a ‘coffin’ to collect rejected census forms. The journey started – I believe – on Ynys Mon, made its way through Wales, and ended in Cardiff Bay, where the coffin was burnt.

      I forget where we stopped in the Rhondda, but it was definitely a supermarket car park. I’d gone off to talk to someone when the group that had remained with the ‘coffin’ was approached by a woman who harangued them over what they were doing. We should all be proud to be British, she insisted. I joined the group just as the exchange was ending. From what she told us of her daughter this, I’m convinced, was Carolyn Hitt’s mother.

      I was with the march for most of the trip, and here’s a photograph taken in Swansea.Tick box campaign
      I’m the elegant chappie at the back.

    1. Yes, I thought she’d ‘come over’. Which is why it’s so strange seeing her in that company, for none of the other three wants independence.

      1. Dafis

        Probably as interested in Indy as that other Rhondda girl who was at one time striding forward in the right direction but got distracted by a raft of ishoos that relegated our freedom to a distant last behind that long list of exotic priorities. Lots of people like that about the place.

  8. Patience

    Couldn’t resist copying this article in today’s Times. Note how the planning officer view’s were treated as irrelevant.

    A row has erupted in a picturesque Welsh village after an animal rescuer knocked down a country home to build a pig barn, prompting outrage among locals who fear “unwanted waste and smells”.
    Residents in Gwaenysgor, near Prestatyn in North Wales, had been concerned that Peter Davidson, who owns the Pig Inn Heaven sanctuary, planned to move his entire operation to the area.
    Mr Davidson’s centre in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, takes in pigs that were bought as pets during the “micropig” craze about a decade ago and neglected or abandoned when they grew to full size. After demolishing a £690,000 house in Gwaenysgor he started to build a six-bedroom family home — and planned to build a barn next door to hold up to 70 pigs.
    The site is yards from the Offa’s Dyke path in the Clwydian hills, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
    One neighbour said the animals would cause “unwanted waste and smells”. Another said they would produce large amounts of waste containing ammonia, which could encroach on to a site of special scientific interest.

    Tony Hughes, the local planning officer, said the plans for a giant barn were “excessive” and would have a significant adverse impact on the character and appearance of the area.
    Residents were angered again when the plans were approved by Flintshire county council under delegated powers, meaning that no public hearing was held to allow those objecting to voice their concerns. A neighbour said: “I am left with the impression that for some reason this matter was dealt with in a manner to avoid public scrutiny.
    “The concerns we raised at an early stage are now proving justified. The whole thing is a mess and we are very concerned at the planning process.”
    However, Mr Davidson, 63, who plans to live at the new house with his partner Janet Devereux, 54, and his son David, 30, said he was not moving his rescue centre from Rochdale, intending instead to use the new barn to house animals needing “long-term care”.
    “Early on I offered to meet the people of Gwaenysgor but they didn’t want to know,” he said. “The behaviour of some has bordered on malicious bullying.
    “We have done nothing but comply with every request and are left to build a property not to our design but to comply with official compliance to the environment.
    “I am an environmentally aware person and in fact Natural Resources Wales complimented me on clearing gorse from part of the land.”
    Ms Devereux said their treatment had been “horrendous”.
    Dismissing suggestions that the barn would be a blight on the landscape, Mr Davidson said it was an attractive building of Welsh stone and timber with a Welsh slate roof.
    Although the top could be seen from some points in Prestatyn, he said that the timber would turn silver-grey in time and that landscaping would obscure it.

    1. Unfortunately Wales is a favourite destination for animal ‘rescue centres’. Who can forget ‘Happy Donkey Hill’?

      And there’s money in it. Proven by the fact that this person in Gwaenysgor can afford to demolish a £690,000 house to erect a pig barn.

    2. P. Bland

      I see from the Pigg in Heaven website you can be a “Luxury” sponsor of a porcine friend. £55 a year, and regular updates on how their troughing is going. Sounds a better deal than we get with the WAG. PIH sponsorship gets you a mug and t-shirt, but no mention if you eventually get some nice chops, leg and shoulder for your money.

    3. Wynne

      As I understand it, during the current lock-down period, regulations for all local authority meetings [including meetings of planning committee] are to be determined by Welsh Ministers under S.78 of the Coronavirus Act. The statute is reproduced below. Delegated powers should not be given to planning officers to determine planning applications that would normally be determined by planning committee as there is provision for video conference facility under S.78 [2]. I am not aware of whether the regulations, under the Act, have yet been made by Welsh Government.

      S 78 Local authority meetings
      (1) The relevant national authority may by regulations make provision relating to:

      (a) requirements to hold local authority meetings;
      (b) the times at or by which, periods within which, or frequency with which, local authority meetings are to be held;
      (c) the places at which local authority meetings are to be held;
      (d) the manner in which persons may attend, speak at, vote in, or otherwise participate in, local authority meetings;
      (e) public admission and access to local authority meetings;
      (f) the places at which, and manner in which, documents relating to local authority meetings are to be open to inspection by, or otherwise available to, members of the public.

      (2) The provision which may be made by virtue of subsection (1) (d) includes in particular provision for persons to attend, speak at, vote in, or otherwise participate in, local authority meetings without all of the persons, or without any of the persons, being together in the same place.

      (3) The regulations may make provision only in relation to local authority meetings required to be held, or held, before 7 May 2021.

      (4) The power to make regulations under this section includes power:

      (a) to disapply or modify any provision of an enactment or subordinate legislation;
      (b) to make different provision for different purposes;
      (c) to make consequential, supplementary, incidental, transitional or saving provision.

      (5) In this section the “relevant national authority” means:

      (a) in relation to local authorities in England, the Secretary of State;
      (b) in relation to local authorities in Wales, the Welsh Ministers;
      (c) in relation to local authorities in Northern Ireland, the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland.

      (6) In this section “local authority meeting” means a meeting of:

      (a) a local authority;
      (b) an executive of a local authority (within the meaning of Part 1A or 2 of the Local Government Act 2000 or Part 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014);
      (c) a joint committee of two or more local authorities;
      (d) a committee or sub-committee of anything within paragraphs (a) to (c). (Continued).

  9. Vashti

    Had to laugh at Game Show Gary, yes he certainly looks like the WAG’s version of Michael Barrymore. Believe he’s originally from Portsmouth or some such, lived for a while in Abbeycwmhir of all places until he decamped back to Cardiff with his girlfriend de jour.

    Who really gets my goat is Elin Jones though, chancers and Labour careerists are one thing but isn’t she supposed to be a nationalist? The patriotic voters of Ceredigion really need to get wise to this one.

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