The Welsh land stewardship scheme Glastir has been given a mixed report after a review by an independent panel.
The Welsh government had ordered the review of the scheme’s upper tier, Glastir Advanced, to establish whether it could be improved under the new Rural Development Plan.
A panel’s report published on 5 June concluded that Glastir Advanced would provide a ‘significant improvement’ compared with the results achieved by its predecessor, the Tir Gofal higher-level scheme.
But it also identified a number of flaws including the value for money delivered by capital works such as dry stone walls, fences and gates.
These agreements have been popular with farmers, but the report stated: “The panel found considerable variation between contracts in the amount spent on these items.
“While part of this seems to relate to the extent to which these items were tackled in previous contracts, [panel members] were concerned work signed up did not always represent best value for the contract.’’
The panel also concluded that inspection visits by contract managers were insufficient.
“The panel were struck by the contrast between the intense effort that goes into negotiating and setting up a contract and the absence of systematic follow-up support to contract holders,’’ the report added.
Deputy farm minister Rebecca Evans responded to the conclusions, saying issues would be addressed. “I am determined that we build upon our early success and have therefore asked officials to start taking take forward the panel’s recommendations immediately,’’ said Mrs Evans.