Farmers hit out at plans for ‘excessive and prohibitive’ hikes to Natural Resources Wales’ fees
Farmers leaders have criticised proposals for big increases in the regulatory fees and charges they pay to Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
The proposals, set out in a consultation which closed on Saturday, would see the cost of new licences for abstraction/impoundment of water increase from £135 to £6,327, while the cost of a new applications for land spreading of spent or unused sheep dip, would increase by over 1000% to £3,728.
NRW is also proposing changes to the tiered charging approach for hydro-electric power applications and is considering introducing an hourly rate of £125 for pre-application advice and a 6% increase for the annual fees it charges to recover the costs of monitoring and assessing compliance with permit conditions.
NFU Cymru Rural Affairs Board Chairman, Hedd Pugh said: “NFU Cymru has substantial concerns about the level of transparency shown by NRW in how it has calculated the proposed increases.
“The union has stressed in its response that the onus is on NRW to show that the costs are fair, proportionate and competitive and the regulatory body is doing everything it can to keep the costs to a minimum and deliver value for money.
“NFU Cymru is extremely concerned that the proposals, as they stand, will have serious unintended consequences and perverse impacts.”
Farmers also claim NRW’s proposals to increase the costs for sheep dip disposal 10 times would “hinder efforts” to eradicate sheep scab, a disease has been identified by the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group as a long-standing priority.
Mr Pugh said: “It seems perverse to us that NRW has brought forward these proposals taking into account that sheep dipping is the key tool in the armoury against the disease.
“We are also clear there are strong arguments for the use of waivers and reductions in fees where permits and licences support practices that deliver wider environmental and socio-economic benefits.”
NRW says it would use the feedback from the consultation to inform its new charging rates, which will be introduced from 1 April 2023.
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