Minister concerned farmers “aren’t prepared” for a No Deal Brexit

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Call for a deadline to be set for publication of flood reports

Flooding over the summer – on top of flooding from storms earlier in 2020 – prompted Shadow Environment & Rural Affairs Minister, Janet Finch-Saunders MS (Con, Aberconwy), to accuse the Welsh Government of ignoring communities in the Conwy Valley by not immediately offering emergency flood funding.

Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham), suggested Conwy council simply hadn’t applied for funding yet; funding which 100% covers the cost of flooding has already been applied for by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and that offer is available to other councils.

Councils also have a statutory responsibility to publish flood investigation reports. Putting the impact of Covid-19 aside, reports relating to storms Ciara and Dennis are yet to be published. Janet Finch-Saunders called for the Minister to set a deadline for their publication.

The Minister was willing to look at this:

“….I think you’re right – it is helpful, not just for transparency, but also for looking at what flood alleviation schemes we can bring forward….Local authorities told me that one of the barriers to bringing the (flood prevention) schemes forward was funding, so I’ve taken that barrier away by saying we’ll fund 100% of that initial study to see if a flood alleviation scheme would be suitable for that particular area.”
– Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths

Farming “not ready” for a No Deal Brexit

Llyr Gruffydd MS (Plaid, North Wales) asked what the long-term intention was concerning support for new farmers. The current scheme is set to end and there’s the potential for a gap in support before a post-Brexit Welsh Agriculture Bill is introduced.

“It is causing concern that we may be facing a two or three-year period without any bespoke support of that kind. And why do you think it would be acceptable for us not to support young entrants in the interim period? And what kind of message do you think it might send to the industry if they believe that Government’s thinking is that that kind of support is expendable, even if only in the short term?”
– Llyr Gruffydd MS

The Minister said a White Paper will be published before the end of the year and presents an opportunity to “look again” at what support was offered to new entrants to farming – though she didn’t offer any specific details.

She later admitted that the impact of Covid-19 and other matters means that the farming sector is “probably not” ready for a potential No-Deal Brexit.

“….I chaired the latest DEFRA (meeting), where myself and my Scottish counterpart were told – we were talking about business preparedness and the Internal Market Bill – by the (UK) Secretary of State that we were looking at it ‘glass-half-empty’. I don’t agree with that at all. I have genuine, real concerns that businesses aren’t prepared. We asked them to prepare last year for a No Deal Brexit; they were stood down, if you like. We’ve now had the Covid-19 pandemic and, clearly, now, we’re having to gear up again.”
– Environment & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths

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