Rebecca Evans, Deputy Minister for Farming and Food
Glastir Advanced is Wales’ high level agri-environment-climate support scheme which provides payment to farmers and land managers to undertake specific management to address key environmental outcomes in targeted locations. It was designed with the aims of:
- Reducing Carbon and Green House Gas emissions.
- Adapting to climate change and building greater resilience into farm and forest businesses.
- Managing our water resources to improve water quality and reduce flood risks.
- Contributing to economic sustainability of farms, forestry and the wider rural community.
- Protecting the landscape and the historic environment while improving access.
- Contributing towards a reversal in the decline of Wales’ native biodiversity.
The design of the scheme has been praised by the European Commission as being pioneering and innovative in how it seeks to target interventions most effectively to meet these challenges. Interest and engagement from farmers has been high, with the scheme oversubscribed in the first three years since its launch.
As part of the Rural Development Programme consultation last year the Welsh Government made a commitment to undertake an independent evaluation of the delivery of Glastir Advanced. The main purpose of the evaluation was to assess how successful Glastir Advanced was being at addressing its important environmental objectives and to identify any steps Welsh Government could take which would continue to improve upon the delivery of the scheme going forward under the new Programme.
The Panel I appointed was chaired by Dr Geoff Radley, an independent consultant who previously led the review of the English Stewardship schemes. The Panel also included Dr Ieuan Joyce, chair of the Elan Valley Trust and an active participant in agri-environment schemes past and present, and Mr Arfon Williams, a former project officer under the Tir Gofal scheme and now with the RSPB and Wales Environment Link. I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank them for the work that they undertook.
The Panel found many examples of good practice, in particular that consideration is given to a wide range of objectives within a targeted framework and that contracts will deliver far more than just the specific objectives for which they were selected. The Panel found that the management put in place for key habitats was generally appropriate, and the approach to ensuring improved water quality received particular praise.
The Panel also specifically commented on the excellent work of Contract Managers -in particular, the care they had taken to incorporate advice from multiple sources, reconciling conflicts between management required for different objectives, and putting forward a management package that a farmer could realistically be prepared to undertake.
The Panel has, as requested, also identified some areas where the way the scheme as currently implemented does not always make the best use of its solid design foundations. In line with its remit, the panel has made 10 recommendations for how the Welsh Government can improve delivery of the scheme to remedy these issues.
I am pleased with the overall positive messages from the panel, reflecting the effectiveness of Glastir Advanced in achieving its objectives. I have considered the recommendations made by the panel and I have outlined how I intend to respond to them. The full report and a synopsis with Welsh Government’s response will be published today on the Glastir web pages.