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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Shock and awe

The Tory AM for Mid and West Wales, Glyn Davies, often finds himself out of sorts with the political world he inhabits. Well that is what he tells us anyway. His usually erudite speeches are packed full of phrases such as "I was deeply disappointed", "I was shocked" and "this is utterly incomprehensible". Yesterday was no different, however, unusually for Glyn, his outrage spilled over into a series of cliches:

The purpose of our motion is to stop the Assembly Government wielding its incorporation agenda as an ideological sledgehammer to inflict seriously damaging consequences on a genuinely successful Welsh story, which over the past 10 years has greatly benefited the Welsh environment.

and then back to form:

I was deeply disappointed to hear the Minister tell us, in a committee meeting last week, that he wanted the CCW to return to its former, limited, regulatory role. Tir Gofal has been a brilliant success story, which Wales can be truly proud of. It is widely described as the best agri-environment scheme in Europe, and probably in the world, and it has exceptionally low administration costs.

...........I was shocked when I first heard that the Government intended to put all this at risk by taking responsibility for delivering Tir Gofal away from the Countryside Council for Wales. About 60 project officers work within CCW, delivering this scheme, transforming the way in which the countryside is farmed and underpinning the partnership relationship that the CCW now enjoys with individuals and businesses that manage the land of Wales. The Government wants to transfer these 60 officers into the civil service. That is all that we are talking about: 60 project officers. This is utterly incomprehensible. It is driven by a misguided, misplaced ideology. We see a willingness to sacrifice a world-renowned, made-in-Wales agri-environment scheme on the altar of ideology.

Glyn finished off with a real flourish:

The Minister seems to have two reasons for this castration of the CCW as we know it. He has looked entirely unconvincing when advancing these reasons, and I strongly suspect that the First Minister has a firm grip on the Minister’s arm—halfway up his back; or perhaps it might be his officials.

....... This theoretical tidying-up argument is being used by the Minister to cloak the total absence of any reason that stands up to detailed inspection.

.......I strongly suspect that the Minister has been searching for some fig leaf to cover his inadequacy and to justify the unjustifiable.

By the time he had finished I was seriously concerned that he had misplaced his thesaurus.
I hadn't heard about the plans to take Tir Gofal away from the CCW although i heard that the money available was being reduced or stopped. Sometimes farmers are unfairly painted as wreckers of the environment, but I think that the majority genuinly repect the environment and want to protect it.

Farmers (like most business owners) are very sceptical of schemes and paperwork, so it took a while for Tir Cymen and now Tir Gofal to take off. Now that it has become popular it seems that there is going to be less money available for it which is a shame.

My father is a farmer, as are most of my family from both sides and he recently benefited from the Tir Gofal scheme. He bought a piece of land which he'd rented for about 25 years and used Tir Gofal to improve gates and fences, and re-plant hedges and trees. He enjoyes laying hedges himself but it was also nice to employ a younger contractor who now practices this skill. Even though I have no interest in farming myself (something I do regret, but it's either in you or it isn't), I often wonder if old skills like hedge laying and dry-srone walling will soon be lost. Unlike many of numerous government departments he has do deal with, he seemed to have a good relationship with and opinion of the CCW.
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