Tir Gofal being sidelined, says support group

A group formed by farmers participating in Tir Gofal, the main Welsh agri-environment scheme, claims that 2000 application forms have been sidelined because of uncertainty about the Welsh Assembly’s rural affairs budget.

“Agri-environment schemes, particularly Tir Gofal, are the key to meeting the biodiversity targets in Wales and though they need improvement they don’t need sidelining,” said Simon Spencer, chairman of the Tir Gofal Farmers’ Association.

“They are an important source of income for hard-pressed farmers and a major factor in persuading farmers to take up environmentally friendly farming.”

Payments

Processing of applications cannot go ahead until the Welsh Assembly agrees Tir Mynydd payments to less favoured area farmers, which could be boosted by siphoning funds from other agri-environment schemes.

The TGFA also alleges that moving responsibility for Tir Gofal from the Countryside Council of Wales to the Welsh Assembly has been a shambles.

A spokeswoman for the Welsh Assembly acknowledged applications received following the Tir Gofal window in 2006 had not been processed because of discussions on the rural affairs budget and the Rural Development Plan. But this was not unique to Tir Gofal.

She added that there had been no delays or hold ups in either the processing of applications or payments because of the transfer of the scheme.

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