The Countryside Alliance has accused Natural Resources Wales (NRW) of ‘misleading the public’ in its public consultation, following the organisation’s purchase of land at the Brownhill site in the Tywi Valley, Carmarthenshire.
In partnership with the Welsh government, NRW plans to raise a Covid- memorial woodland in Carmarthenshire by planting trees near the village of Llangadog on the banks of the river Towy.
The decision to create a woodland has been met with opposition from rural groups who fear its risks irreversibly changing the Welsh countryside, due to it being constructed on agricultural land.
In a public consultation online, NRW confirmed they were sold the land as three lots and describe the land as having ‘included a proportion of rougher and/or less accessible ground, less attractive for agricultural purposes’.
The Alliance’s Wales Director, Rachel Evans, has written to NRW requesting that their consultation be amended with immediate effect to truthfully reflect the type of ground they have purchased at Brownhill. An offer to the chief executive Clare Pillman, to visit the site has also been made.
Ms Evans, who lives locally to the site, said: “It is utterly wrong of NRW to mislead the public on the nature of the site they have purchased for this project. To claim that all the land they secured is not suitable for farming is incorrect. It is equally wrong of them to claim the land is inaccessible, as there is clearly a suitable entrance to the fields, which has been used and since padlocked by NRW.”
She added: “Furthermore, there is no mention whatsoever of the potential of some of the better land, which totals approximately 21 hectares, being left for grazing and mowing. In fact, their description of the potential within the document purposely omits this. We must question whether this is a genuine consultation or whether they have already made up their minds to plant it in its entirety and are simply, just playing lip service.
“It is ironic that they claim this woodland is for the community yet proceed to tear away at the fabric of that community by completely ignoring the contribution of agriculture to the local economy and people’s well-being.”
Ms. Evans has also criticised promotion of a forthcoming drop-in session at Llangadog Community Centre on the 9th of March between 12 midday and 7pm, where local residents have been invited to ask questions and raise objections.
Ms. Evans, who will be attending, said: “A number of local people I have spoken to have been completely unaware of this important opportunity to outline their concerns to NRW directly. It is important that those who feel strongly about this matter can be heard. It only adds to the fear that NRW are simply going through the motions and propose to plant away, without the valid views of the local community being truly considered.”