Consultation on Welsh rural economy post EU withdrawal

19 August 2020

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The Welsh Government is seeking responses to a consultation on Sustainable Farming and our Land: Proposals to continue and simplify Agricultural Support for Farmers and the Rural Economy.

The consultation closes on 23rd October 2020 and proposes a regulatory basis for the government to continue to support farmers, land managers and the wider rural economy after the Withdrawal Agreement Implementation Period which is due to end on 31 December 2020.

The Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said, “This consultation is concerned with simplifying the current CAP regulations, until the Welsh Government’s plans for the future of agriculture and the rural economy are delivered through a White Paper and introduction of an Agriculture (Wales) Bill in the next Senedd term.

“The proposals establish a simpler interim framework which will support the competitiveness of farming and food production, whilst responding to the climate emergency, reversing biodiversity decline, ensuring high standards of animal health and welfare and protecting our natural resources.”

Reflecting on the proposals, Rhian Howells, Senior Surveyor with Cooke & Arkwright’s Land Agency said, “The document gives us a useful insight into the Welsh Government’s direction of travel when it comes to future policies for agricultural support.

“These are interim measures, commencing in scheme year 2021, and still operating within the old BPS structure. However, the document’s emphasis is already very much on (1) sustainable land management principles, and (2) tailoring support to suit the specific requirements of Welsh agriculture.

“One example is the proposed simplified ‘Greening’ element of the BPS scheme which in recent years has been regarded as less effective for achieving environmental improvements in Wales, where the vast majority of farmland is already based upon managed permanent pasture. It has therefore presented an opportunity for slimming down and reducing some of the red tape.

“It is hoped that the Welsh Government will use this transitional period to their benefit, in creating a new and simplified support model which suits modern Welsh farming practices and provides stability, whilst encouraging environmental improvements to our landscape and climate.”

Cooke & Arkwright have been providing rating valuation advice to The Welsh Rugby Union Limited (“WRU”) and Millennium Stadium plc for many years. They were recently successful in achieving substantial reductions in the assessments of the Millennium Stadium, covering both the 2005 and 2010 rating list. These negotiated reductions yielded savings of c.£3.5m which, crucially, allows the WRU to re-invest in rugby throughout Wales. They advise the WRU across the group portfolio including the National Centre of Excellence in the Vale of Glamorgan. The valuation issues across the WRU portfolio are complex requiring a high level of understanding of the funding and finances of professional sport in Wales. Cooke & Arkwright’s experience and understanding of these issues and application to the rating valuation have yielded these substantial negotiated reductions. The WRU and the Millennium Stadium entrust our work to organisations with the required levels in experience and expertise in dealing with these complex issues. I am glad to say we have this expertise in Wales. I would have no hesitation in recommending ratepayers making use of this Welsh based expertise.

Steve Phillips, Group Finance Director, Welsh Rugby Union Group