Wales - Mark Drakeford cannot leave drivers of industry behind

Wales - Mark Drakeford cannot leave drivers of industry behind

11 Sep 2023 Posted By Joe Scotting

By Martin Reid RHA Policy Director for Wales

It was with great interest I read in the press recently that the row which had been brewing between Welsh farmers and the first minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, was coming to a head.

Mr Drakeford, according to Samuel Kurtz, shadow minister for rural affairs, “continues to ignore the views of Welsh farming unions”.

Green by stealth

In 2025 the Welsh government will bring in the ‘Sustainable Farming Scheme’ to replace the funding previously available from the EU, but one of the qualifying conditions to access this new fund is that farmers will have to devote at least 10% of their land to tree planting and 10% to wildlife habitat.

It will come as no surprise to our industry that these conditions have been brought in very much against the wishes of the farming sector and apparently with Mr Drakeford’s fingers in his ears. What we are seeing in Wales is a relentless drive from the government in Cardiff to prove its ‘green credentials’ with little consultation, and in most cases, leaving industry behind.

Like the farmers, our members in Wales are incredibly frustrated at the actions of Mr Drakeford’s administration, particularly around the lack of investment in the Welsh strategic road network in all regions of the country.

He appears to believe that by not investing in roads he will drive cars off the road and therefore implement his green dreams by stealth, and with little concern for those who drive the economy. We are seeing the same thing happen in Scotland with the almost ubiquitous 20mph speed limits popping up all over the country.

As in Wales, these new limits are being speedily implemented without consultation, but when it comes to increasing the speed limit in Scotland for HGVs on the trunk roads to match the rest of the country, then the pace of change is positively glacial.

Industry ignored

Both the SNP in Scotland and the Labour Party in Wales have been in power for a long time, largely unchallenged. The SNP first formed a minority government in 2007 and has been largely in control ever since.

For Labour in Wales it is even longer. It has won every Assembly and Senedd election since 1999 and maybe it can be argued that both parties feel their success at the ballot boxes means they have a mandate to do whatever they want.

However, it is folly to ignore industry needs and wishes. The Welsh government bringing in blanket changes to farming subsidies while dictating how farmers must use their land seems short-sighted at best, and no less myopic than ignoring our industry’s cries for better road investment.

Under pressure

On Thursday 9 November we will be hosting an event at the Senedd, and all 61 MSs from all parties will be invited to attend.

We also hope there will be strong support from members on the day so we can all put pressure on Mr Drakeford and his colleagues to invest in roads and back our industry to support the Welsh economy and make Wales PLC a better place to do business. For us, for the farmers, and for every other sector who provides for the nation.

Invest in our roads to benefit the economy - RHA

By James Barwise RHA Policy Advisor With speculation increasing that the multi-billion-pound Birmingham to Manchester se...

Supporting Members With Costs is a Key RHA Priority

Increasing cost pressures are a reality our industry has had to withstand in recent years. Last year our members told us...

The Devil Makes Work For Engine Idling Hands

Idling engines cost money, damage coaches and the environment, and call the viability of coach tourism to popular destin...