NFU Cymru is launching a new campaign at tomorrow’s Meirionnydd Show against the Welsh Government’s Green Paper on Access which could see access rights for responsible recreation extended to all land in Wales with just limited exclusions.
The Union’s campaign will raise awareness of the proposals and provide farmers with the opportunity to easily respond to the Welsh Government by using a specially designed post card.
NFU Cymru Rural Affairs Board Vice Chairman, and Meirionnydd farmer, Hedd Pugh said, “Welsh farmers are proud of the range of goods and services that agriculture in Wales provides. This includes a Welsh food and drinks industry worth £5.8bn annually. We have also created, care for, and manage, our treasured Welsh landscape which not only supports a diverse range of species, habitats and ecosystems but also provides a significant backdrop for our tourism and recreation industry, worth an estimated £1.6bn.
“Our campaign highlights that there are already so many opportunities to enjoy the Welsh countryside. This includes more than 460,000 hectares of access land, more than 16,000 miles of footpaths, more than 3,000 miles of bridleways and more than 1,200 miles of the National Cycle Network. In Meirionnydd, over 65,000 hectares – approximately 40% of the land area - is already open access land and when you take NRW (Natural Resources Wales) forested land into account well over 50% of Meirionnydd is open to the public.”
Mr Pugh continued, “Farmers therefore oppose proposals that will see access rights for responsible recreation extended to all land in Wales. Increased access will inevitably mean increased costs and burden on farm businesses across Wales and we are calling on Welsh Government to first ensure better management of the existing Public Rights of Wales network.
“Welsh Government should also provide information on the costs of increased access and be clear who will pay and also tell us what safeguards there will be to manage the negative impacts of increased access on farm and rural businesses.”
Concluding Mr Pugh said, “Enough is enough - there are already significant opportunities to enjoy the Welsh countryside, we do not need more! Proposals will impact disproportionately on farmers and landowners who will have to manage the impacts of increased access on the day-to-day running of their business and it is vital, therefore, that their voice is clearly heard in the consultation process.”