- Environment Secretary Steve Barclay raised concerns about Labour’s eco plans
Controversial green plans by Labour’s Welsh government would cost almost 40,000 farmers their jobs if they were expanded to cover England as well, the Environment Secretary warns today.
Steve Barclay said the ‘ill thought-out eco scheme’ would also threaten food security by massively reducing the amount of land that can be used to grow crops.
His comments come amid growing anger in Wales at the Labour government’s Sustainable Farming Scheme, which will force farmers to set aside 10 per cent of their fields for trees and another 10 per cent for wildlife.
Thousands of rural workers have gathered in recent weeks, in one instance parading a mock coffin and signs saying ‘RIP Welsh farming’, raising the prospect of mass tractor protests similar to those seen in Europe.
The Welsh government’s own impact assessment for the plan, intended to ‘safeguard the environment and address the urgent call of the climate and nature emergency’, estimates it will mean an 11.4 per cent reduction in Standard Labour Requirements.
Steve Barclay said the ‘ill thought-out eco scheme’ would also threaten food security by massively reducing the amount of land that can be used to grow crops
Keir Starmer previously described the Welsh Labour Government as a ‘blueprint for what Labour can do across the UK’
NFU Cymru says this is equivalent to the loss of 5,500 jobs, and also predicts a 122,200 reduction in livestock numbers and a £199million loss in farm business income under the ‘shocking scenario’.
The Tories have calculated that if the same drop in labour took place across England it would mean 33,300 fewer farming jobs – putting the total at close to 40,000 for the two countries.
They fear that if Sir Keir Starmer becomes Prime Minister he will impose the same plan for reducing farming land on the whole country, as he has previously described the Welsh Labour Government as a ‘blueprint for what Labour can do across the UK’.
Labour has also used similar language to the Welsh scheme for its plans for the whole country, recently promising that if it wins power nationwide it will ‘introduce a robust land-use framework that will promote sustainable farming, help meet our climate goals and strengthen our ecosystems’.
Environment Secretary Mr Barclay told the Mail last night: ‘Labour has no plan for farming and are proposing ill thought through eco-schemes that would put farmers out of business and threaten our food security.
3,000 Welsh farmers gathered on Thursday evening to protest against rising costs and various new environmental reforms
40,000 farming jobs could be at riskj if Labour’s controversial green plans are expanded from Wales to England
‘They simply don’t get the importance of our rural economy. Perhaps that is no surprise given their shadow Defra team is led by a London MP.
‘Only the Conservatives have a plan for farming that shows how food production can go hand in hand with protecting nature. Labour would take our vital rural economy back to square one.’
The latest warnings about Labour’s eco schemes come amid continuing fallout from its dramatic decision to abandon the pledge to spend £28billion a year on green investments.
Asked about the U-turn by the BBC yesterday, the party’s campaign co-ordinator Pat McFadden admitted ‘we’ve made I think an error sometimes in the Labour Party on judging the worth of every policy as the amount of public money spent on it’.
‘It is a mistake to obsess about a figure.’