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Welsh Government accused of ‘hypocrisy’ by Welsh Secretary after cutting down 850,000 tonnes of trees

05 Mar 2024 4 minute read
David TC Davies

Martin Shipton

Welsh Secretary David TC Davies has accused the Welsh Government of hypocrisy for ordering farmers to plant trees on 10% of their land at the same time as it is felling 850,000 tonnes of trees for timber every year in forests it owns..

Many members of Wales’ agricultural community have joined protests against policy plans they claim threaten their livelihoods and the very future of farming.

The focus of anger is the Welsh Government’s post-Brexit Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS), which is due to replace the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) style of payments to farmers in 2025.

Every farm in Wales is being asked to reduce working land, instead having 10% tree cover and 10% habitat creation to qualify for public funding. Many believe this will risk vital food production.

Yet at the same time, trees grown on woodland managed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) – Wales’ biggest quango – are chopped down and sold each year.

Backlash

Around 850,000 tonnes of timber are produced annually from the Welsh Government’s own forests, prompting a furious backlash from Mr Davies, who has many farmers in his Monmouth constituency.

Mr Davies said: “This is sheer hypocrisy. On the one hand, ministers in Cardiff Bay are telling farmers they are so important to tackling the climate emergency that they need to sacrifice 20% of prime agricultural land for planting trees and other wildlife schemes. But on the other hand, they are more than happy for their quango to chop down trees from their own forestry land to be sold.

“It is absolutely outrageous, especially when I am given to understand that NRW does not have the resources to replant the trees it is felling.”

Mr Davies visited farmer Lyndon Edwards at Dingestow in his constituency. He said: “Lyndon explained how every inch of his farmland is already being used, including growing barley for cattle feed and growing clover for sheep – which is also a nitrogen fixing crop. These unworkable and barmy proposals to take 20% of land out of production for tree planting and habitat creation, alongside a checklist of 17 other complicated rules, present a very real barrier for many farmers in Wales. For large numbers, it is going to severely impact their viability and capacity to produce food.

“However, thousands of trees are being grown on forestry land owned by the Labour Welsh Government. But these trees don’t last because every year they cut down 850,000 tonnes and sell them commercially.

“So land like Lyndon’s, which is perfect for growing crops or grazing livestock, will now be set aside for Labour’s tree planting schemes. While Labour is seemingly content to chop down trees on forestry land, which is perfect for growing trees in the first place.

“It all goes to show the Welsh Government cannot see the wood for the trees. Of course, the real worry is that farmers will end up stuck with a whole load of trees and no money coming in if the Welsh Government changes its mind further down the line.”

Public consultation

Mr Davies added he is “strongly encouraging anyone who hasn’t already done so” to make their views known and respond to the public consultation on the SFS, which closes on March 7. Comments can be submitted at www.gov.wales/sustainable-farming-scheme-consultation

A Welsh Government spokesperson responded: “Farming is very important both to Wales and to our economy and we want a successful future for Welsh farming.

“The proposed scheme requirement for 10% tree cover includes existing broadleaf and coniferous woodlands, as well as individual trees scattered throughout fields and hedgerows.

“We are not proposing farmers plant an additional 10% over and above the trees they already have. Our woodland estate is managed to international standards of forest management – with restocking being an important part of maintaining potential harvestable timber for the future.”

Assets

The spokesperson added: “Where additional planting is required, we continue to explore how additional trees can be integrated into the farm in a way they become an asset such as through the creation of shelterbelts which have a direct benefit to livestock and to the farm business.

“We have been clear we expect changes to be made following the consultation, and we will continue to listen. The First Minister [Mark Drakeford] and Rural Affairs Minister [Lesley Griffiths] provided an update recently on a number of key areas to support the sector.

“The volume of timber harvested from the Welsh Government Woodland Estate each year is calculated in accordance with NRW’s key objective, Sustainable Management of Natural Resources. The figure of 850,000 comes from NRW’s publication Natural Resources Wales / Forestry: Supply Timber We do this by producing around 850,000 tonnes of timber each year, from our own forests.”


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Frank
Frank
1 month ago

Well Mr. Davies, that’s what it’s all about. Trees are planted, farmed, and then cut down when large enough for their timber. Then new ones are planted so that future generations can make use of them as we are doing now from trees planted decades ago. That’s how it works Mr. Davies.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Like he said NRW now say they haven’t got the resources to plant replacement stock. Why not ? Seems like there’s grants aplenty for spivs jumping on the greenwash planting scam.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

He didn’t say NRW haven’t got the resources to plant replacement stock. He said ”  I am given to understand that NRW does not have the resources to replant the trees it is felling.” Which is not quite the same thing.

However if as likely there isn’t enough resources the most obvious reason would be that the funding NRW get isn’t enough to do everything they need to do.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

If they are selling the proceeds of tree harvesting then they should have resources for replanting. Much of the standing timber ripped down to make way for wind energy towers and access infrastructure was not sold at market prices as it was damaged by contractors.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Where’s the source for this information you’re providing? Are there any documents or substantive comments online?. I’m genuinely interested in finding out what’s actually going on and I’m sure others are interested also.

Also how significant is the wastage you believe is happening compared to the 850,00 tonnes total of trees felled per year..

Last edited 1 month ago by CapM
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Common Sense on the the run from Desolation Bay for twenty five years and still running…

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

See the post above from Frank it explains perfectly why both David TC Davies and yourself are wrong.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

So you are always right ? I don’t think so. Indeed you appear to be rapidly securing a near monopoly of getting things wrong. But never mind you’ve convinced yourself that you are bang on the button so keep on kidding yourself.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Please see the post below from Rhufawn Jones.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Some people live in a room full of mirrors…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

Look out your window and you will see that I am pretty close…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Read the Bevan Foundation report “Poverty and financial hardship the new normal”…Wise up Barry…

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

What’s that got to do with forestry?

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Well, there we are. “There were no parties”, Boris illegal shutting parliament down and sending the haunted pencil to fib to Liz. Then Bravermans hate filled bile at a nation and 30p off on one then we have Truss goose stepping Farage back into the Tory party but lets not say anything about that hypocrisy in leaving them in the party.

Next!

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
1 month ago

Ok, If Davies is so concerned about 10% of farm land being used for trees in Wales – perhaps he should also take up the issue with his bosses in the UK government which has a similar policy in place for English famers? Apparently, the compensation for farmers in Wales is greater than England too. If this policy had been announced by a conservative welsh government – we’d have heard nothing from Sunak and the UK conservatives. Do they really care about the plight of Welsh farmers – or is it another ploy to bash a Labour administration and gain… Read more »

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve A Duggan

I think it’s pretty obvious what it is. It’s interesting reading the final paragraphs of the item, where it is explained that the 10% isn’t additional trees, but is inclusive of all existing trees. It seems that neither the Welsh Secretary or the farmers he’s effectively triggered have actually read the policy properly. It would be an act of absolute lunacy to plant trees on the very limited amount of good arable land that Wales has, but on the uplands, more trees could be planted to little or no detriment to the current pastoralism, which probably doesn’t really pay, and… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

….but on the uplands, more trees could be planted to little or no detriment to the current pastoralism, which probably doesn’t really pay…… That needs to be promoted and repeated to all concerned. Too many green minded people getting all evangelical about saving the planet by whatever means and farmers defending their right to sweat away on rather marginal land where selected types of timber would offer better land use. This means of course that rather than demanding 10% acerage contribution the government agencies would need to work the hard yards and start accumulating 10% by national aggregation. Hard work… Read more »

Gaynor
Gaynor
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve A Duggan

Everything written about this tree planting business is not contextulised within the broader picture of UK. Similar policies taking place in England and guess what, the marginal farmers are being shafted there too. Gullable Welsh Farmers led by GWJ sucking up to Westminster Tories have the wool being pulled over their eyes. Twp Cat is also a hypocrite, however , when I see all the timber hauliers carrying the softwood forests of mid Wales on a daily basis to wait for it burn in Drax Port Talbot ..another dodgy contract for mates set up by UK gvt, churning out CO2… Read more »

Robert Williams
Robert Williams
1 month ago

Isn’t it a bit embarrassing that Frank, in his admirable contribution, has to point out the basic idea of forestry management to the Secretary of State for Wales?

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

Yes indeed.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

Onwards word to describe David TX Davies: numpty

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
1 month ago

Poor bloke doesn’t understand how a forestry work. Pwr dab.

Dafydd
Dafydd
1 month ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

Oh he understands alright, hes just hoping that his massively disingenuous comments will be believed by someone. Huge numbers of crop timber (mainly conifers are felled each year) and in many cases are then replaced with native woodland species.

Any reductions in NRW funding that get in the way of even more tree planting, are offcourse ultimately the fault of his public sector hating party in London.

I and millions of others like me are massively sick of the tories – no lies are going to save you and your evil crowd from oblivion this time.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Hypocrisy. That’s quite a statement to make with his director record as a Welsh Office Minister. Is this the same David TC Davies whose Conservative party closed down Welsh coal mines in the 1980s citing cost and environmental reasons only to buy in inferior Polish coal to be burnt in those same polluting power stations damaging further our environment landscape and health. What about more recently when arrogant Whitehall refused to pay towards the cleanup of thousands of dangerous coal tips that have not only scarred our valleys but the lives of those, especially in Aberfan, thanks to the government… Read more »

the original mark
the original mark
1 month ago

This isn’t hypocrisy, it’s called woodland management, perhaps TC could explain why his government are allowing Israeli military officers to be on training courses in the UK when the Israeli military are under on going investigation for genocide and war crimes by the ICJ?

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
1 month ago

I really dislike Tories but this excuse for a human being the Welsh Sec David T C Davies is the one i hate the most in the Westminster government he is supposed to fight for Wales thats all he does is find fault and put his country down he is a TRACHEROUS TRAITOR A QUISLING i also think there is a couple of supporters of the SCUM party Tory on here WHY are they on here

Richard E
Richard E
1 month ago

So speaks the expert on the subject ✔️

In an area strongly pro Europe – who
was speaking up for them ?

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

People who voted Tory the last time, should look at the quality of the last two viceroy’s appointed by the Tory party, and know never to vote for them, ever. This one doesn’t know how the forestry commission works, ( now NRW ), and spouts half truths about Senedd policy, and the last one didn’t know what, and how the Barnett formula worked.Sad.

Charles
Charles
1 month ago

Trees are a crop and therefore harvested. To be sustainable theu are replanted.
False Tory information.

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