Conservative call to ban multinationals claiming government funding to buy Wales’ farms for tree planting
The Conservatives have called on the Welsh Government to ensure that funding for tree planting isn’t given to multinationals that want to buy Welsh farms to offset carbon emissions.
Farmers’ unions have expressed alarm after receiving reports “almost on a weekly basis” of entire Welsh farms being snapped up for tree planting.
The Welsh Conservatives have responded by saying that the Welsh Government’s Glastir Woodland Creation scheme should not be accessible to multinationals from outside the country.
Glastir is the Welsh Government’s sustainable land management scheme, which offers financial support to farmers and landowners.
But Shadow Rural Affairs Minister Samuel Kurtz said it could lead to the use of public funding in order to ‘greenwash’ their emissions through farmland purchases in Wales.
He added that the Welsh Government shouldn’t be handing out taxpayers’ money to “those not active in our society and economy”.
“As the son of a farmer, the last thing I want to see are family-run farms being sold-off to foreign multinational companies to improve their own public-image, whilst they continue to produce an enormous carbon footprint completely guilt-free,” he said.
“By stopping Glastir payments to foreign companies, we’d ensure that money reaches the hands of the farmers and land managers here. That way, we can encourage them to use their own land to help tackle climate change.
“If the Welsh Conservatives were to control the allocation of Glastir funds, you could be assured that farmers would be encouraged to plant trees, and be rewarded for doing so.
“It’s about the right tree, in the right place, for the right reason.”
‘Does nothing to help’
Figures recently released by the Welsh Government confirmed that a growing proportion of Welsh Government Glastir Woodland Creation (GWC) scheme money was used to pay for tree planting on Welsh farmland bought by investors with addresses outside Wales.
The figures also confirmed that the areas planted by such investors are on average many times greater than what is planted by those with Welsh addresses.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales warned last month that the Welsh Government and Senedd needed to take “urgent accent” to control the market.
They said that rather than reducing their own carbon footprint, businesses were now finding it cheaper to buy up entire tracts of Welsh land instead.
“If someone plants trees on Welsh land and sells the carbon outside Wales then this does nothing to help Wales reduce its carbon footprint,” FUW President Glyn Roberts said.
He said that it risked undermining the ability of farms, Welsh agriculture or Wales as a whole to become carbon neutral.
Glyn Roberts added: “Our longstanding concerns were confirmed in a recent Welsh Government response to a Senedd question by Plaid Cymru agriculture spokesperson Cefin Campbell, which revealed that between GWC application windows 8 (November 2019) and 10 (November 2020) the number of applicants with addresses outside Wales grew from 3% to 8%.”
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