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Broadcaster Roy Noble joins campaign to stop mass tree-planting on Welsh agricultural land

13 Jun 2022 4 minute read
Roy Noble. Photo Peter Anderson

Roy Noble has joined countryside campaigners in calling on the Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to stop mass tree-planting on prime agricultural land.

The broadcaster, who has been a constant feature on Welsh radio and TV for decades, while also urging them to curtail ‘outside interests’ and ‘juggernaut companies’ from doing the same.

Roy Noble said in a personal plea that he had “real empathy” with farming families who “are out-bid” for land purchases by “financial combines”, who use it to offset their carbon emissions elsewhere by planting trees.

He accused them of having “no empathy for, or real understanding of farming or the countryside”, and argued that taking away agricultural land for tree planting risked limiting Wales’ ability to be self-sufficient and threatened food security.

“The tragic and awful events unfolding in Ukraine and the world’s extreme financial strain currently impacting on our country should focus the mind and underline priorities, one being self-sufficiency,” he said.

“It stands at around 60% in Wales at present I believe, but experts agree, from the farming world and beyond that it could be vastly improved with official support. Of course, we cannot produce everything, but a greater percentage is a realistic goal.”

Mr Noble, who worked as a teacher before embarking on a career in broadcast, argued that tree planting has benefits when done in the “right place with the right trees”.

“Without a doubt, planting trees is regarded and accepted as a way to combat the climate emergency and global warming, but ‘right trees, right place, right effect’ is, I feel, an acceptable mantra in that process.

“Planting on productive, rich arable land, surely is not, and, if done, the implication and effect will last generations.”

Hallowed ground

He pointed at rural communities in the Cothi Valley, Carmarthenshire, where his ‘maternal lineage lived for many generations’ saying: “Many of the farming families, in all areas of Wales affected, are rooted in their land, their hallowed ground attached as it is to their soul and their very being.

“Many likely go back to the very early farmers. That heritage deserves recognition and respect, for all they have contributed and will continue to do, feeding a need, in food production, co-operating in climate crisis initiatives, and working with government and agricultural bodies on sensible paths.”

The broadcaster’s intervention comes as a petition, launched by Countryside Alliance Wales and now in its third week, continues to collect hundreds of signatures by the day. The petition, which is online, calls on the Welsh Government and NRW to “stop purchasing productive farmland to plant trees which threatens our fragile rural communities, heritage, culture and the Welsh language”.

It further adds: “We are deeply concerned about the number of companies purchasing productive farmland for tree planting to offset their carbon emissions and feel that the Welsh Government should further protect our communities from this practice”.

The petition was launched after a Freedom of Information request revealed the Welsh Government has spent £6million buying land with taxpayers’ money.

In February, the Welsh Government announced that new memorial woodlands would be created at three separate sites, including a section of farmland at Brownhill in Carmarthenshire’s Tywi Valley. The plans involve planting at least 60,000 trees, sparking fears that valuable agricultural land will be lost.

Cwrt-y-cadno

In the Carmarthenshire village of Cwrt-y-Cadno, Frongoch Farm was sold earlier last year to Foresight Group – a multi-billion pound private equity firm based in The Shard.

It plans to plant thousands of trees across the valley, prompting a local campaign which argues that the afforestation will be largely made up of conifers that could damage soil and have a negative impact on the landscape.

Rachel Evans, Director of Countryside Alliance Wales said: “It is truly a great honour to receive the support of Roy Noble in what is an incredibly important campaign.

“We cannot stand by and watch productive agricultural land get swallowed up for tree planting initiatives that while well-intentioned, have long-term, negative, irreversible consequences for farming families in Wales and threaten our ability to produce our own food.

“Every signature represents a voice and alongside Roy Noble, we urge the Welsh public to ensure their voices are heard by signing our petition today.”

The online petition can be found here.


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Llinos
Llinos
5 months ago

Thank you for this article. I didn’t really understand why there was resistance was to re-wilding until now. Carbon offsetting through tree planting is sleazy greenwashing that is not really sustainable, since land is finite and suddenly re-introducing trees to a landscape which has not had them in over a thousand years, will instantly destabilise the ecosystem which has developed since they went, but more trees is good and so long as they are the right kind of trees will become a great asset. However, the loss of Welsh farming families to the area is too much and given the… Read more »

Wncomunco
Wncomunco
5 months ago
Reply to  Llinos

The crachach the world over plant trees to make up for a privilaged lifestyle.

Richard
Richard
5 months ago
Reply to  Wncomunco

I think its actualy for the v generous government grants 🍷

Wncomunco
Wncomunco
5 months ago
Reply to  Richard

Available to the crachach.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
5 months ago

I don’t understand why top politicians dont *get it*, that we may soon have a food emergency, and farmers, and farming should be top priority NOW! Is it really the case
that greasy pole climbers don’t care, neither about our people nor land?
Welsh oak and others should be planted on other than agri. land.

Gareth
Gareth
5 months ago

Farmers have already slit their own throats , when voting for Brexit. the deals the Tory’s have done with Australia and New Zealand will see cheap meat imported in the coming years, so farming had better diversify asap or they go they way of the Brexit fishing industry, and there will only be land for planting trees left.

Wncomunco
Wncomunco
5 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

I cannot understand how Wales voted for Brexit. We actually need a physical border with England with passport control.

Richard
Richard
5 months ago
Reply to  Wncomunco

The whole concept of rejecting brexit was the stop the passport controls my friend.

Richard
Richard
5 months ago

Da Iawn Roy – achos da 👋🏽

The NRW is a monster out control and in reality the new WDA with all its promise to deliver and failure to understand Wales and it’s community needs

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