Written Statement from Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd:
Through the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru, we committed to working with the farming community in the deployment of the Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) Regulations 2021, to improve water and air quality, taking an approach targeted at those activities known to cause pollution. In October 2022, I issued a Written Statement on the package of measures the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru agreed in order to progress this commitment.
As part of this package of measures, in November 2022, I issued a consultation on support and evidence for proposals for a licence scheme, which would enable farm businesses to apply for a licence for a higher annual holding nitrogen limit of up to 250kg/ha, subject to crop need and other legal considerations. Alongside this, to allow time and space for consultation, I extended the transitional period which applies to the livestock manure 170kg/ha annual holding nitrogen limit to April 2023. To enable consideration of the consultation responses, I further extended the transitional period to 31 October 2023.
I would like to thank all those who took the time to offer their views on the proposals. Whilst no new evidence was presented, consultation responses showed high levels of support for a scheme, subject to it being simple and straightforward to apply for a licence. Objections to the scheme focussed on the environmental and water quality impacts.
I continue to give this issue very careful consideration, having regard to the concerns raised about the burden on the sector of any licence process and also to the concerns raised in respect of the environment. I will make a further statement in the coming weeks.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.