THE CABINET Secretary for Rural Affairs has said she is minded to introduce a whole Wales approach to tackling nitrate pollution from agriculture and improve water quality.
Following an extensive consultation on Nitrate Vulnerable Zones last year, the Cabinet Secretary said work would get underway with partners over the coming months to develop the right balance of comprehensive regulatory measures, voluntary measures and investment.
This will also include exploring further options to provide land managers with flexibility, where these would achieve the same or better outcomes than a regulatory approach.
Lesley Griffiths said: “While nitrogen is a vital nutrient that helps plants and crops grow, high concentrations are harmful. The agricultural use of nitrates is a major source of water pollution.
“We had a considerable interest in our consultation on Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, reflecting the importance of water quality to Wales as a nation.
“Most respondents recognised the significant impact nitrate pollution is having on our waters, businesses and human and environmental well-being throughout Wales and agreed further action was needed.
“Poor nutrient management is still a major problem across Wales. Pollution of this kind is entirely preventable and is simply not acceptable in the 21st century.
“We should not at the end of 2017 see significant stretches of some of our most well-known and popular rivers largely devoid of fish, proving just how much work remains to be done.
“Wales’ waters need much greater protection from agricultural pollution and that is why I am minded to introduce a whole Wales approach to tackling nitrate pollution from agriculture.
“Over the coming months, I intend to work in partnership with our stakeholders to get the right balance of comprehensive regulatory measures, voluntary measures and investment. I also intend to explore further options to provide land managers with flexibility, where these would achieve the same or better outcomes than a regulatory approach.
“We have some of the finest countryside and stretches of water in Europe which we have a duty to protect and enhance. This new regulatory approach will help deliver this and ensure current and future generations continue to benefit from our natural resources.”
Responding to the announcement, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Mid and West AM Simon Thomas, said: “There is a glimmer of hope that a voluntary approach like that advocated by First Milk of an off-set for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones might be consider in the future.
“Over a year has passed since the Welsh Government consulted on Nitrate Vulnerable Zones in autumn 2016. This means that farmers in Wales have faced over a year of uncertainty regarding the Welsh Government’s intentions.
“Plaid Cymru has been clear from the outset that the Welsh Government should seek alternatives to NVZ which will significantly add to costs faced by farmers who already face financial uncertainty.
“I wrote to the Cabinet Secretary in November 2016 asking her to consider alternatives to NVZ such as the agroforestry approach called ‘bocage’ practiced in Brittany.
“The approach entails planting hedgerows or trees which allow nitrate recycling.
“A voluntary scheme such as this could provide an alternative method of reducing nitrogen pollution on farmland in Wales and could also provide other ecosystem services, such as flood mitigation, carbon storage and maintaining and enhancing biodiversity.
“Protecting Wales’ water from nitrogen pollution is particularly important following the referendum to leave the EU and the uncertainty regarding environmental regulation in the UK.
“However, this could be achieved through a voluntary approach, rewarding farmers for providing ecosystem services, rather than through imposing further bureaucracy and costs on farmers.”
The Farmers’ Union of Wales has given a cautious welcome to the Welsh Government’s announcement.
Responding to it, FUW President Glyn Roberts, said: “This seems to be a far more proportionate way forward than some of the options that had been proposed, but we need time to assess the details and their implications.”
Mr Roberts observed: “As a member of the three groups which will be looking at these approaches, the FUW looks forward to working on approaches which are proportionate proactive voluntary approaches which deliver positive outcomes.
“NVZ and other regulatory approaches are blunt instruments which often do not tackle the main sources of problems, and what can be complex problems. More targeted and flexible approaches can therefore better address the real causes of problems, as well as increasing engagement with industry.”
Man sentenced following Tregaron assault
FOLLOWING a report of an assault in Tregaron on Tuesday, April 3, Dyfed-Powys Police has arrested and charged Saul Rownan Henvey, aged 42, of Chapel Street, Tregaron, with common assault.
He was arrested following the incident, for which the victim required hospital treatment.
Henvey appeared before Llanelli Magistrates’ Courts on Friday, April 6.
He received a three month sentence, suspended for 12 months. He was also given a 12 month supervisory order and ordered to undergo 30 days of rehabilitation requirements.
Motorbike safety campaign launched across Wales
A CAMPAIGN aimed at reducing the risk of motorcycle-related deaths and serious injuries on the roads is underway across Wales.
As the weather improves police see more bikers on the roads, taking advantage of the beautiful routes across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys.
Dyfed-Powys Police is urging motorcyclists to ride safely and warns that until October there will be an increased focus as part of the campaign, named Op Darwen.
Superintendent Huw Meredith, Head of Specialist Operations, said: “Motorcyclists have long been identified as particularly vulnerable road users and reducing the number of road deaths and casualties on the roads of Dyfed-Powys is a priority for our Roads Policing Units.
“We have always welcomed motorcyclists from outside our borders to enjoy the magnificent landscape, but they must be aware that Dyfed-Powys Police is doing all it can to ensure our roads are used safely by all, with our Roads Policing Units taking robust action to prevent fatal or serious road traffic collisions on our roads.
“Everyone must take responsibility for their own and others safety on our roads and be aware of their riding and driving manner. Action will be taken against anyone choosing to ride or drive anti-socially, recklessly or illegally on our roads.
“Our officers see far too many tragedies, many preventable. Roads Policing officers will be out in numbers throughout Dyfed-Powys using a combination of education, engagement and enforcement to prevent further tragedies.”
Officers will also be encouraging riders to improve their biking skills by taking part in BikeSafe workshops, which
offer an insight into what can be achieved with further advanced training. The workshops, run by police forces around the UK, use a mix of discussions, on-road observed rides and information videos. They are designed to enhance the skills of all riders who have already passed their tests and are suitable for all abilities, from the most seasoned rider to those returning to biking after a period of absence.
Economy and Transport Secretary Ken Skates praised the campaign: “Our roads continue to be amongst the safest in the world.
“However, the number of motorcyclists being killed or seriously injured is still too high.
“Campaigns like this are a key part of a wider range of measures aimed at making our roads safer and preventing future motorcycling casualties. This holistic approach includes ensuring motorcyclists are prioritised in our road safety funding, supporting Go Safe’s operation of speed cameras and funding local authorities to deliver Bikesafe and other motorcyclist training.”
‘Race hate’ case will be heard at Crown Court
A BRYNAMMAN man who allegedly called for all Muslims to be ‘forcibly sterilised and banned from preaching their ‘evil creed’ in a social media post will have his case heard at Crown Court.
It s alleged that 34-year-old Jonathan Jennings posted nine offensive or threatening comments between March and April last year.
These are said to include threatening to ‘Jo Cox’ Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, hailing a man jailed for kicking a pregnant Muslim woman in the stomach as ‘a National Hero’ and suggesting that bombing mosques and ‘putting Muslim on top of bonfires’ were ‘great ideas’.
It is alleged that he said Hitler was born 100 years too soon, and called for Gina Miller to be ‘hunted down and executed’ over her stance on Brexit.
Appearing at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court wearing a blue military greatcoat, purple shirt, and yellow striped tie, Jennings, of Heol y Gelynen, spoke only to give the court his name, age and address.
Jennings’ solicitor said that he would not be entering a plea at this stage.
The District Judge declined jurisdiction, and Jennings was released on bail until May 18 at Swansea Crown Court, on condition that he does not post or repost anything on social media, or create any new accounts.
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