WALES’ climate change minister Julie James has refused to answer a question regarding the future of Model Farm in the Vale of Glamorgan, which is under threat of being concreted over and turned into an industrial park for the aviation industry.
Ms James was giving evidence to the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee regarding the “economic and cultural impacts of trade and environmental policy on family farms in Wales”.
Bridgend MP, Jamie Wallis, had challenged Ms James over Model Farm, “a productive farm in the Vale of Glamorgan”, being “essentially being concreted over for an aviation trading estate”.
Mr Wallis asked Ms James whether the Welsh Government was prioritising the aviation industry over farming.
Ms James said that as it was a planning matter she would be unable to comment further.
Earlier in the session, she had responded to questions regarding the issue of multinational corporations buying up swathes of Welsh farmland for carbon offsetting schemes.
Ms James had asserted that the Welsh Government was “working with our farmers to ensure that we have the right combination of tree planting, protection of other forms of habitat and food production on our farms.”
The Welsh Government has come under fire in recent months from both Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives over allegations that its Glastir Woodland Creation scheme, which offers funding for tree-planting, has been paying grants to large multinational companies who then convert Welsh farms into carbon offset forests.
Ms James appeared to deny that this was an issue, describing Welsh Government policies as “robust”. She also pointed out that since “we live in a capitalist society, we can’t prevent people from buying land in Wales any more than we can prevent the farmers from selling it”.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning committee is set to reconsider Legal and General’s planning application to develop Model Farm into an industrial estate, but so far, it’s unclear when exactly this will be.
The Welsh Government have the power to call-in the decision and have the final say on the matter.
South Wales Central MS, Andrew RT Davies, said, “The Vale of Glamorgan Council have declared both climate and nature emergencies. Yet they decided to allow developers to concrete over Model Farm.
“Hard work from our whole community, including the Vale Communities Unite campaign, saw this decision struck down. But that it has got to this stage shows the Council cannot be trusted to handle the application any further.
“The Minister must intervene, use her powers to call in the application, and stop this unnecessary destruction of land the Jenkins family have farmed for generations.”
Plaid Cymru South Wales Central MS Rhys ab Owen said: “I hope the Vale of Glamorgan Council will see sense and not allow permission for Model Farm to be replaced by a business park. Not only would this be going against the climate emergency declared by the Council, but it would see a family being removed from a farm that they’ve lived and work on for generations.”
- This article originally appeared on our sister site The National.