Plaid Cymru’s shadow rural affairs minister Llyr Gruffydd has urged the UK Government to consider using Welsh wool to insulate homes as part of a green drive to reduce energy costs and improve incomes for sheep farmers.
Mr Gruffydd said the collapse in the wool market meant that farmers were paying about £1 to shear a sheep and only getting an average of 19p per fleece.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic had caused the price of wool to plummet with huge surpluses of unsold wool. Farmers have even taken to using unsold wool as compost.
In a letter to Boris Johnson he said the wool industry needed urgent support in light of the collapsing market and urged innovative uses such as insulating housing to reduce energy costs.
Mr Gruffydd said in the letter: “Wool has long been used as an effective insulator but is now experiencing renewed interest due to its natural, sustainable and renewable nature. In light of increasing attention concerning climate change and the environment, these qualities are becoming more and more important to home builders and buyers alike.
“Wool from Welsh hills and mountains in particular is widely recognised as a high quality, sustainable product.
“Your Government plans to build 45,000 new homes as part of your ‘New Deal’, as well as making green improvements to 600,000 homes. What better way to help the Welsh wool industry bounce back than commit to using their product as insulation as part of your new and green housing infrastructure proposals across the UK? Welsh wool is there ready and waiting to provide high-quality sustainable home insulation now and for many more years to come.”
The Welsh Conservatives’ Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Energy and Rural Affairs – Janet Finch-Saunders MS wrote to the Welsh Government to urge for the mandatory use of Welsh wool in new home insulation schemes yesterday
“This has been an incredibly difficult year for Welsh sheep farmers, who have sadly witnessed a collapse in the price of wool clip as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.
“I have sadly heard that several farmers have taken the difficult decision to plough their wool into their fields as fertiliser. It is heart-breaking to see such decisions having to be taken, adversely impacting a farmer’s hard-earned livelihood.
“I have written to the Welsh Government to urge Welsh Ministers to look at making the use of Welsh wool mandatory in new home insulation schemes, as well as for future insulation and carpeting upgrades in Welsh public buildings.
“Elected Members have a platform from which to pursue policies that place the best interest of agriculture and farmers at the heart of devolution. By modifying our purchasing practices, we will be sending a bold signal of support for an industry that is integral to the Welsh economy.”