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Open access opens can of worms



Urges caution over open access: Llyr Gruffydd AM, Plaid Cymru

Urges caution over open access: Llyr Gruffydd AM, Plaid Cymru

CONCERN has been expressed by farmers over proposed changes to access legislation in Wales, at a recent county NFU Cymru Annual General meeting.
Brecon and Radnor NFU Cymru County Chairman, Stuart Morris said : “NFU Cymru recognises that some reform is required to access legislation to allow for modernisation of the public rights of way network, through a process of prioritisation and rationalisation. In our response to the recent Green Paper we have made clear that the current system does not take into account modern-day farming. The procedures to divert or close public rights of way must be made far easier and less expensive.”
During the summer months, the Welsh Government carried out a consultation exercise to explore views on the potential for simpler, more integrated, legislation on access to the outdoors and public rights of way. Most alarmingly, concern was raised with regard to the proposal for an entirely new access settlement in Wales which would allow access for responsible recreation to all land in Wales.
Stuart Morris continued, “Farmers are deeply concerned that any proposals to extend access will impose severe limitations on the day to day running of their farming businesses. Our farms are our factory floor and consideration must be given to the fact that we have grazing livestock and cropping decisions to take.
“We have already seen the consequences of the vast spread of phytophthora ramorum and we would not wish for any repeat of this type of disease spread in any of our agricultural crops. There are also health and safety factors to consider such as access to emergency services if an accident were to occur.
“Overall, NFU Cymru is supportive of reform to simplify current legislation to allow a sensible rationalisation of the network. Wales already has a very extensive network of paths and access land and it is time that existing routes are maintained and clearly signposted. We would urge members to continue to lobby their own AMs on this important matter.”
Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs Llyr Gruffydd AM has also urged caution over government plans to introduce open access to the countryside. His call comes following the publication of HSE figures showing 74 deaths involving cattle in the past 15 years and in the wake of a series of high-profile animal welfare incidents linked to public access to farmland.
Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs Llyr Gruffydd said: “There is much that needs to be improved with the existing arrangements for access, rights of way and public footpaths in Wales. Updating antiquated legislation and outdated regulations would, for example, reduce many of the administrative burdens on those responsible for our paths.
“A quarter of Wales is already designated as open land and we have over 20,000 miles of public rights of way. There has been a threefold increase in land accessible by right by the public since 2005 meaning that over a million acres of Welsh countryside is already accessible to the public.
“If the Government genuinely wants to encourage more access then it should start by promoting the better use of what we already have. Flinging the farm gates wide open by introducing open access to all land in Wales is the wrong approach.
“Recent incidents involving dog attacks on livestock have reminded us that allowing public access onto farmland brings with it risks to land owners and for animal welfare. Health and Safety Executive statistics also highlight the dangers to the public in terms of injury and deaths. Among the 74 fatalities involving cattle were 18 members of the public who were either rambling or walking their dogs.
“These incidents generally occurred on public footpaths or rights of way and almost always involve dogs. If a dog comes between a cow and its calf then that can trigger an attack, which makes it all the more important that people do not wander at random and put themselves in danger.
“Wales has a countryside of which we can all be proud. Allowing responsible use of it by the public has clear benefits for health and our economy. As well as the national coastal path, our citizens already have access to hundreds of thousands of hectares of land and I don’t believe we’re making the best of this existing potential. The Government would do well to deliver more effectively on what we already have before seeking to introduce open access to all land in Wales.

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Fishguard set for another spectacular tractor run



FISHGUARD and the surrounding areas are eagerly anticipating the annual Fishguard Show Tractor Run, scheduled to take place on Sunday, 16th June 2024. This highly anticipated event promises a day filled with camaraderie, scenic routes, and the unmistakable charm of vintage and modern tractors.

Participants are expected to arrive from 9:00 AM at the Goodwick Car Park. The run will commence at 11:00 AM, with tractors of various makes and models setting off on a picturesque journey through the stunning Welsh countryside. The entry fee is £20 per tractor, which includes a complimentary lunch and a raffle ticket, adding an element of excitement and reward for the participants

The convoy of tractors will navigate their way to Celtic Camping at Pwll Gaerog Farm, where a lunch break is scheduled. This stopover provides an excellent opportunity for participants and spectators to mingle, enjoy the local hospitality, and appreciate the diverse array of tractors on display. The lunch is generously hosted by the Griffiths family, known for their support of local events and community spirit

The Fishguard Show Tractor Run is more than just a visual spectacle; it is a community-driven event aimed at raising funds for the Fishguard Show. The show is a staple of local culture, showcasing agricultural excellence and offering a variety of entertainment for all ages. The funds raised from the tractor run will help ensure the continued success and growth of this beloved event

For those interested in participating or seeking more information, Alun Mason is the point of contact and can be reached at 07970 249451. Prospective participants are encouraged to register early to secure their spot in what promises to be a memorable day for all involved

Mark your calendars and prepare for a delightful day celebrating the rural heritage and community spirit of Fishguard. Whether you’re a tractor enthusiast or simply looking for a unique day out, the Fishguard Show Tractor Run is an event not to be missed.

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Agricultural Society launches search for Ambassador-elect



PEMBROKESHIRE Agricultural Society are looking to appoint a new Ambassador for 2025 to help support officeholders in promoting and meeting the aims of the Society.

The voluntary role will shadow the 2024 Ambassador at this year’s County Show and other Society events. They will also play an important role in the promotion of the work of the Society, the agricultural industry and rural life in Pembrokeshire. 

The role was awarded to Ffion Edwards during last year’s show. Ffion is a nurse from Maenclochog. She has enjoyed many years of attending the county show and believes that there are so many good elements to it. Ffion has been a member of Llysyfran YFC for 15 years and enjoys every aspect of young farmers – trying new experiences, competing and travelling to name a few.

Adam Thorne, Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society President, said, “The Ambassador role is an important one. In order to fulfil the role successfully the applicant must have excellent communication skills and an enthusiasm to carry out required duties. Knowledge of the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society and the County Show is desirable.”

Anyone aged between 18 and 30 and residing in Pembrokeshire can apply for the role. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview from 7pm on Tuesday, 13 August, at the County Show office. The successful applicant will receive an allowance of £200 and membership of the Society for three years.

Those interested in applying for the position will need to complete the online application form.

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Farmers Union of Wales announce new head of policy



THE Farmers Union of Wales is delighted to announce that Gareth Parry has been appointed as Head of Policy just a few days before his wedding.

It was a double celebration for Gareth, born and bred in Llanfarian near Aberystwyth, as he and Catrin, the FUW headquarters Office Manager, were recently married. They have already settled on the family’s dairy, beef and sheep farm in Llanafan, Ceredigion.

Gareth, who graduated from Aberystwyth University with a first class honours degree in agriculture and business studies, has been working for the Union as a Policy Officer for the past five years. He recently led the Union’s 20,000 word response to the Welsh Government’s most recent Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation. He is the public face of the Union supporting the President in meetings at both Westminster and the Senedd, including regularly meeting with the Rural Affairs Cabinet Secretary and his team. He also meets and guides members throughout Wales and is regularly seen interviewed by the media.

Gareth has already started in his role and is proud of the work that the Union achieves: “I am extremely proud of this opportunity and grateful to everyone for their support over the last few busy months. We have a team of hard-working staff with great expertise at the FUW and it is a privilege to work with them as we represent the interests of our members.

“I’m looking forward to the agricultural shows over the summer months, the opportunity to chat with Welsh farmers, to discuss the issues of the day with other organisations and to prepare for the next exciting period for the industry. It is no mean feat to set a new agricultural support policy for Wales as it is the foundation of the countryside, the economy, culture and heritage. I’m looking forward to playing a part in this important historical moment for Wales’ rural communities.”

When the Union’s work allows, Gareth has a keen interest in car rallies and has competed on many occasions with his co-driver. Navigating these off road tracks with his driving partner, Scott Faulkner, they came home with the ‘British Trials and Rally Drivers Association’ cup back in 2019. The new head of policy has travelled the world rallying and he also enjoys restoring cars and vehicles.

Welcoming the appointment, FUW President Ian Rickman said: “We are delighted that Gareth has been appointed FUW’s Head of Policy. He is an accomplished, professional and intellectual ambassador for agriculture. We are very fortunate to have benefited from his expertise and sharp mind during the past few months. We look forward to continuing to work with Gareth, as we step into the next part of this important journey within Welsh agriculture.

Guto Bebb, FUW Chief Executive said: “Many congratulations to Gareth on his appointment to this prominent role and to Catrin and him on their recent wedding. We are proud of the quality of our staff and are grateful to all our staff members throughout Wales for their dedication to the Union.

“Whilst we celebrate Gareth’s announcement, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Nick Fenwick, our former Head of Policy for his work for the FUW and for Welsh agriculture. Nick’s contribution to the Union’s work and the industry during a long period of time is very much appreciated. Staff and members have had the privilege of working with an agricultural expert who showed great commitment and professionalism to working on behalf of Welsh farmers. We wish him and his family well for the future.”

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