A Meirionnydd farmer and Councillor has gained the unanimous support of Gwynedd councillors today (2 December, full Gwynedd Council meeting) to press the Welsh Government to change the guidelines of agricultural funding schemes to ensure that taxpayers' public money does not leave Wales, as companies try to tackle their carbon footprint.
Councillor Gethin Glyn Williams (pictured) who represents Barmouth residents on Gwynedd Council, said: "We, as a nation, have a history of losing out to larger countries. Historically, we have not retained the benefit and profit from producing and exporting our natural resources such as water, coal and timber. Our track record of investing profit back into Welsh industries, communities and services is poor.
“But we have a great opportunity to change that. To take the reins and lead within the Welsh environmental sector ensuring that any company looking to redress their carbon emissions on Welsh soil does so for the benefit of the green circular economy here in Wales.
“And that leadership has to come from the Welsh Government. I am keen to see everyone who has an interest in this issue, to sit down around the table and come up with a strategy for Wales that ensures we firstly become a carbon neutral country, and then open the door for others to come in and invest here for the good of the environment and the economy of Wales.”
The Councillor's call comes as companies from outside Wales are buying farms in rural Wales, taking advantage of Welsh Government agri-environment scheme grants, such as Glastir, to create woodlands to offset their own carbon emissions.
“Not only are these companies stripping out fertile agricultural land used for food production that sustain Welsh families, but they are also taking from the public purse in Wales through schemes, such as Glastir, for their own benefit and profit. It is morally wrong for companies from outside Wales to use Welsh public grants to redress their environmental impact.
"I am pleased that Gwynedd Councillors have supported this urgent matter calling on the Welsh Government to change the Glastir grant guidelines (GWC) so that only farmers and active landowners from within Wales can apply.
"I also call on the Welsh Government to introduce planning development legislation to enable local planning authorities, such as Gwynedd, to manage afforestation projects.
“It is after all the balance of protecting the environment, investing in the economy, stabilising communities and feeding people with quality local produce that is important at the end of the day. Without all elements of the jigsaw in place, it will become very difficult for Wales to prosper.”