MONMOUTH MP David TC Davies has branded the proposed tree coverage quota on Welsh farms as “hypocritical and wrong”.

Thousands of farmers protested at the Senedd last week over plans for a new Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) which would require farms to dedicate 20 per cent of their land to tree coverage and wildlife habitat before they can receive the financial support.

The Woodland Trust in Wales (Coed Cadw) has described the policy as a "relatively modest requirement", noting farms already average six or seven per cent coverage which will count towards the 10 per cent figure.

Welsh secretary Mr Davies has slammed the proposals as “sheer hypocrisy” as Natural Resources Wales (NRW) chops down around 850,000 tonnes of timber each year.

“On the one hand, ministers in Cardiff Bay are telling farmers they are so important to tackling the climate emergency that they need to sacrifice 20 per cent of prime agricultural land for planting trees and other wildlife schemes,” he said.

“But on the other hand, they are more than happy for their quango to chop down trees from their own forestry land to be sold.

“It is absolutely outrageous, especially when I am given to understand NRW does not have the resources to replant the trees it is felling.”

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said they expect changes to be made to the SFS following an analysis of consultation responses.

The current consultation closes tomorrow, March 7.

'Every inch'

Mr Davies visited Dingestow farmer Lyndon Edwards at the start of the month, who said “every inch” of his farmland already has a use - whether growing barley for feed, or clover for sheep and nitrogen fixing.

“These unworkable and barmy proposals to take 20 per cent of land out of production for tree planting and habitat creation, alongside a checklist of 17 other complicated rules, presents a very real barrier for many farmers in Wales," said the Tory MP.

"For large numbers, it is going to severely impact on their viability and capacity to produce food.

South Wales Argus: Mr Edwards says he already uses 'every inch' of his farmMr Edwards says he already uses 'every inch' of his farm (Image: Supplied)

“However, thousands of trees are being grown on forestry land owned by the Labour Welsh Government. But these trees don’t last because every year they cut down 850,000 tonnes and sell them commercially.

“So land like Lyndon’s, which is perfect for growing crops or grazing livestock, will now be set aside for Labour’s tree planting schemes. While Labour is seemingly content to chop down trees on forestry land, which is perfect for growing trees on in the first place!

“It all goes to show the Labour Welsh Government cannot see the wood for the trees. Of course, the real worry is that farmers will end up stuck with a whole load of trees and no money coming in if the Welsh Government changes its mind further down the line.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Farming is very important both to Wales and to our economy and we want a successful future for Welsh farming.

“The proposed scheme requirement for 10% tree cover includes existing broadleaf and coniferous woodlands, as well as individual trees scattered throughout fields and hedgerows.

“We are not proposing farmers plant an additional 10% over and above the trees they already have.

“Our Woodland Estate is managed to international standards of forest management – with restocking being an important part of maintaining potential harvestable timber for the future.”