05 March 1999
Welsh green move goes ahead — watered down

A NEW all-Wales agri-environment scheme, Tir Gofal, is being launched today (Friday) by Welsh Secretary Alun Michael. .

But Mr Michael – who earlier this week was caught on camera eating beef on the bone – will announce that the scheme will be far smaller than originally stated.

Tir Gofal will offer annual whole-farm and capital project payments to farmers who carry out work to conserve wildlife and habitats, protect landscapes and promote new access opportunities.

Tir Gofal will be based on Tir Cymen, a successful pilot project involving 1023 farmers and 89,304ha (220,670 acres) of land.

An independent ADAS survey indicated that the schemes capital grants for hedge maintenance and regeneration, stone wall repairs and building renovation had a beneficial impact on the local jobs and the rural economy.

When former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies announced Tir Gofal last July, he said half the 27,000 holdings in Wales would benefit in the first 10 years.

But Mr Michael is expected to announce that the budget will stretch to only 600 agreements/year in the first three years, or 1500 fewer than the farming unions anticipated.