The Welsh Affairs Select Committee Westminster held an evidence session with Welsh Government on Thursday the 7th of June in Cardiff to question the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs on agriculture, trade and the repatriation of powers.
The Alliance attended the meeting as observers and had already had the opportunity to meet with the Chair David T.C Davies Conservative MP for Monmouth and fellow committee member Plaid Cymru and Ceredigion MP Ben Lake to highlight our on-going concern that there had been no representation for shooting or angling on the Cabinet Secretaries Brexit Round Table Wales sub-group for land management.
The Cabinet Secretary was questioned directly by the Chair why organisations such as the Countryside Alliance had not been part of those discussions to which Lesley Griffiths replied that the group was already too big and there was no room for other organisations to join.
However, a subsequent honest and sometimes critical discussion between Rachel Evans and Tim Render, Director, Environment and Rural Affairs at Welsh Government will see the Alliance once again formally apply to become members of that group in order to ensure that our members’ interests are absolutely recognised in any future land management decisions.
On the wider subject of discussions with Westminster, the Cabinet Secretary stated that there had been disagreement on that matter but felt that it had now moved forward. Agriculture has been devolved to Wales for almost twenty years and the Cabinet Secretary stressed that there was a focus on culture (to include the importance of the Welsh language,) and communities in Welsh agricultural policy.
The subject of future funding arose and whilst Lesley Griffiths confirmed that the level of funding would remain at the current level she also stated that by 2022 there will be a new Welsh Government in place. An easy answer to that question. Griffiths also noted that Welsh Government agreed with Westminster’s position on there being public goods for public services but added that they were also “looking at economic activities”. It is alarming that they are looking at economic activities with no input from any stakeholders on the subjects of angling and shooting – two of the largest economic inputs in rural Wales. Interesting yet possibly calamitous times ahead.