Written Statement from Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd:
I am pleased to announce, from Friday 29 September, applications can be made for the Habitat Wales Scheme, with contracts commencing in January 2024.
The Habitat Wales Scheme will be a new interim agri-environment scheme to ensure a seamless transition from the end of Glastir in December 2023 until the anticipated start of the Sustainable Farming Scheme in 2025.
The scheme is an important part of our response to the nature emergency. It offers an opportunity to maintain and increase the area of habitat land under management across Wales and will be available to all eligible farmers, including Glastir Advanced, Commons and Organic farmers.
It will ensure the work which has taken place through Glastir will continue and is extended as we work towards the introduction of the Sustainable Farming Scheme in 2025.
Members will be acutely aware of the incredibly difficult financial situation we’re facing, which is having an impact across all portfolios. Our financial position is up to £900m lower in real terms than we expected at the time of the last spending review in 2021, due to very high inflation and energy prices and the mismanagement of the economy by the UK Government.
As you’ll be aware, the Cabinet has been working throughout the summer to do everything we can to mitigate these budgetary pressures. Once this work has been completed, I will be in a position to confirm the budget for the Scheme.
We are opening the scheme now so farmers who are interested can see the scheme details and proposed payment rates and apply, ready for contracts to begin in January.
I would encourage anyone interested in continuing Wales’ proud tradition of agri-environment participation, which aims to benefit our native biodiversity and combat climate change, to give full consideration to applying to the Habitat Wales Scheme, once the application window opens.
I will continue to keep members updated.
Related links: Habitat Wales Scheme