No timetable yet for Lucy’s Law in Wales, but “it will happen”

(Title image: ITV)

Here are some of the highlights from this afternoon’s questions to the Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham).

Advice with the Minister on the regulation of farm runoff

Shadow Environment & Rural Affairs Minister, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central), pressed for a further update on an issue he’s brought up several times – proposals to deal with farm runoff, which he’s claimed in the past would have a negative impact on businesses.

“….as I understand it, when pollution incidents actually declined in 2019, and between 2001 and 2018, there’s no discernable difference between the years on agricultural pollution, you believe it necessary to bring such draconian measures forward, when obviously….the working group that the Welsh Government set up talked and looked at bringing forward a voluntary proposal that the regulator and the sector agreed would be of benefit to reducing pollution in the agricultural sector?”
– Shadow Environment & Rural Affairs Minister, Andrew RT Davies

The Minister rejected the suggestion the proposed measures were “draconian”. She also rejected the suggestion agricultural pollution incidents have decreased; the 157 incidents recorded in 2019 is the highest number for 17 years.

Extra capital funding is likely to be available. Detailed advice was given to the Minister on Monday and she hopes to make an announcement by the middle of February.

Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) asked questions on the same issue.

“Now, farms with 20 or 30 suckler cows: they’re not going to invest tens of thousands of pounds in new infrastructure to meet the requirements of these new regulations, because they are wholly disproportionate to the low levels of stock that they keep. They are telling me that the choice for them, therefore, is to go out (sic) cattle farming, and that would bring with it….the subsequent consequences to upland habitats and biodiversity, but also to the wider beef sector here in Wales.”
– Llyr Gruffydd AM

He went on to say that the government has failed to present any clear evidence to justify the approach they want to take. One study he quoted suggested that 69% of pollution control zones didn’t improve surface water quality, even after 15 years.

The Minister believes he was pre-empting the regulations:

“….every farm is different, so it’s really not possible to specify exactly which measures would apply to an upland farm, for example. You’re talking about thousands and thousands of pounds when we don’t know what each farm will need.”
– Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths

Lucy’s Law is coming….sometime

Vikki Howells AM (Lab, Cynon Valley) and Alun Davies AM (Lab, Blaenau Gwent) both asked for updates on proposals to introduce a Lucy’s Law in Wales, which would ban or restrict third-party sales of puppies and kittens.

The Minister said a statement on animal health was due after the half-term recess in February following a report.

Alun Davies didn’t think that reading a report would fill AMs with confidence that this was progressing at the necessary speed, while Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Con, Aberconwy) noted the significant national interest in this as England gets set to introduce the law.

However, the Minister said legislation can’t be rushed and there have been – and will be – several meetings to consider how to properly enforce such a law.

“This is a major piece of work, and I know how many campaigners are certainly very concerned about that because my inbox shows me that – both as an AM and as the Minister….What I want to make sure is, I’ve said we will bring in a Lucy’s Law – I’m not in a position at the moment to give you the timetable, but I certainly hope to do so within the next couple of months.”
– Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths

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