Companies buying Welsh farms for carbon offsetting is another Epynt and Tryweryn says farmers’ magazine
Companies buying up Welsh farms for carbon offsetting is another Epynt and Tryweryn and must be stopped by the Welsh Government, a farming magazine has said.
Writing in the Farmers Weekly, opinion writer Will Evans said that it was the latest example of Wales’ resources being exploited “by ruthless outsiders who have rarely shown any interest in the lives, language or culture of the people who reside here”.
The Welsh Government have said that there any companies buying Welsh farms will have to meet their conditions before being allowed to plant any trees on them.
But Will Evans said that it was the latest example of “clearances” through Welsh history, “where wealthy men in plush English city offices asserted that it was all in the name of “progress” and “the greater good”, while slowly shaking their heads”.
“They could work with us, and together we could dramatically enhance our landscape, making it work for both food production and the environment,” he said.
“Imagine the kinds of projects that could take place throughout Wales with well-funded, private backing and the will to make it happen.
“But no. Instead, they’ll point out in their promotional material the great acts of green philanthropy they’re undertaking, they’ll continue their mass polluting, and they’ll keep making fortunes for their shareholders. Yes, we do understand.”
He added that like Tryweryn and Epynt the replacement of farms by forests would cause “long-lasting trauma” that “echo down the years”.
“And this is what’s at stake. If the Welsh government doesn’t urgently do something to stop these corporates and the land grabs that are already well under way, large areas of our country will be changed irreversibly, and people here will once again be removed from their land, never to return,” he said.
Earlier this month Climate Change Minister Julie James appeared before a Senedd committee to answer questions about the carbon offsetting scheme.
She said that the Welsh Government’s scheme was “robust” but because “we live in a capitalist society, we can’t prevent people from buying land in Wales any more than we can prevent the farmers from selling it”.
Speaking on Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement last month, Deputy Climate Change minister Lee Waters however said that while there was a “legitimate concern” about companies buying Welsh land the Welsh Government was heading it off.
“I would say to the Savills of this world who are cold calling – hold your horses,” he said. “Because you may well try and sell this land to a speculative investor but in order to plant trees on it you, first of all, need an environmental impact assessment. So there’s no guarantee that land will be suitable for tree planting.
“You need to properly consult, you need to change your plans based on what the community want, you need to ensure the mix of trees is right for that location. And if you don’t satisfy those conditions, you won’t be getting any money.
“So calm down, behave properly, and make sure you work with us because what we want is Welsh farmers leading the way here, Welsh landowners planting the trees, and controlling ownership remaining locally.
“This is capitalism – people are trying to make a quick buck. I’m not interested in that game. I’m trying to tackle climate change in a way that keeps wealth and control locally.
“It’s clear that some people are getting ahead of themselves and I’m here to give them a clear message, as my grandmother would say, watch your eyebrows.”
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