Farmers from across Wales have expressed major concerns regarding the proposals made in the Welsh Government's "Taking Forward Wales’ Sustainable Management of Natural Resources" consultation, and the fact that such a large number of far-reaching proposals had been made in a single document without prior consultation or warning.
Attending the Farmers’ Union of Wales Grand Council, delegates questioned the reasoning behind the document and in order to properly ascertain the circumstances and reasoning which have led to such an unprecedented situation, Council Members proposed, and agreed unanimously, that a Freedom of Information request should be submitted requesting copies of all Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales correspondence relating to the consultation document, the proposals contained therein, the decision to incorporate these within a single document and the timing of the consultation.
FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The title of the consultation seems innocuous enough, but hides more than fifty proposals, many of which are highly contentious for a broad range of stakeholders. We have therefore now submitted the Freedom of Information request to Welsh Government and hope that the response will provide necessary clarity.”
The "Taking Forward Wales’ Sustainable Management of Natural Resources" consultation covers areas as diverse as forestry, public access to land and waterways, fishing, drainage, agriculture and wildlife - to name just some, with specific proposals including allowing mountain bikes on all public footpaths, allowing people to camp and play games wherever they want on open access land, reducing the circumstances in which public safety can be protected when trees become rotten and dangerous, and on-the-spot fines for the drivers of cars from which litter is thrown.
“And if one of these four doesn’t cause concern or bewilderment for an individual, there are another fifty-one to choose from, with plenty of scope to raise concerns amongst almost every stakeholder, from farmers to naturalists, through fishermen to foresters. What makes it worse is that stakeholders were given no indication whatsoever that such a wide-reaching consultation was to be issued.
“Many of the individual proposals would previously have also been dealt with in individual consultations, rather than being ‘packaged’ in a single massive collection of proposals with such an innocent title.
“After all, changing every footpath in Wales into a cycle path or bridleway would represent a massive change to centuries of established law regarding rights of way. Surely, such a proposal should at the very least demand its own document, rather than being buried as ‘Proposal 10’ on page 44 of a 98 page document,” added Mr Roberts.
The FUW is urging members to respond to the consultation before the September 30 deadline via their local county office to ensure their views are incorporated in the Union’s officials response to the proposals.