Yet More Greed and Wanton Habitat Destruction in Dyffryn Nantlle, Gwynedd, North Wales

- A Destructive Practice of Ignorance For Ever More Land, Sheep, and Payments...


Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): the Common Agricultural Policy is the body that oversees all farming payments, or agricultural subsidies, most notably (in the UK) BPS, with the administrative processes handled by the RPA. The level of CAP payment is frequently used in place of BPS because a landowner or farmer's CAP payment typically encompasses all the payments that they receive as opposed to just one of potentially many, including some that are one-off, only for a certain duration, or only available to certain sectors of the farming industry.

Rural Payments Agency (RPA): the body responsible for the administration of BPS and farm subsidy payments, in addition to overseeing compliance with environmental requirements.

Basic Payment Scheme (BPS): a European Union rural grants and payment scheme in support of the farming industry, with applications submitted around May for payment in December.

In England, this is administered by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), which is an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Also, whilst the available information is very vague on the subject, BPS applies to land that is used both for the growing of crops and for grazing. BPS also carries a requirement for farmers to comply with Cross-Compliance and Greening practices.

Cross-Compliance: keeping the land in "good agricultural and environmental condition" and complying with a number of specific legal requirements known as "statutory management requirements", relating to the environment, animal health and welfare and public and plant health.

Cross-Compliance Cymru

Cross-Compliance is also a mandatory requirement in order to qualify for BPS payments, and applies to all the land managed by a farmer, regardless of whether that land is part of their BPS claim or not.

Further, a farmer must comply with the standards of Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC), of which there are seven conditions:



GAEC 1: Water – Establishment of Buffer Strips

This, straightaway, is one area where the farmers have failed (and continue to fail) completely and totally to comply with GAEC, with multiple instances of water contamination and ongoing contamination as a direct consequence of their destruction of the fenland habitat:
I witnessed the initial spraying with herbicide on the 21st May, and further spraying of the fenland area on the 4th September, and can confirm that the conditions at the time were wet with surface water build-up on the fields, such that the deep wheel ruts in the mud can still be clearly seen in videos and photographs taken since that time.

GAEC 2: Water – Use of Water for Irrigation

Deals with the abstration of water for irrigation and is possibly the only GAEC standard that the farmer has not (yet) broken or which they do not continue to break on a day-by-day basis.

GAEC 3: Water – Groundwater Protecting groundwater from agricultural pollution: another (in this case) epic fail on one of main requirements alone: Does industrial strength herbicide count as hazardous? - Evidently the farmers in question do not believe so, or they have a serious problem comprehending the simple requirements of GAEC.

GAEC 4: Soil and Carbon Stock – Minimum soil cover

This gets even more interesting:
...well the first condition definitely was not met because the land was ploughed - a good six weeks afterwards, and this was in June - a good nine months away to March. As for breaching the requirement of GAEC 5 (even outside of the fact that the ground most definitely was not waterlogged at the time):

GAEC 5: Soil and carbon stock – Minimum land management site specific conditions to limit erosion

Under this condition it states:
...and, yes, it was ploughed ...only the image added below shows what looks suspiciously like a disc-harrow [ image date 11.08.2018 ]; and they would normally only be used after, and further to, the initial ploughing in order to break-down ploughed soil in preparation for cultivation and to cover seed after sowing - yet another GAEC contravention in this particular case and almost certainly a prime reason why the field area is now a flooded sea of mud.

...then thoroughly worked-over to remove rocks, stones, and boulders (effectively destroying the functionality of at least one of the main drainage channels in the process.

...before being thoroughly compacted, with aggregates used in the process to firm-up the ground (which does absolutely nothing to prevent erosion, - quite the opposite, in fact).

- red tractor with mounted disc-harrow -

Also, regarding the use of aggregates, GAEC 5 has the following to say on the subject (and bearing in mind that there had been rainfall prior to ploughing and that the ground, by that time, was waterlogged again):

- attempts to work this part of the field had to be abandoned because it was so waterlogged -
Attempts at working this part of the field, along with another area on the other side of the field area, had to be abandoned because the ground was so waterlogged [ image date 30.08.2018, both images ].

Ironically, both areas are now returning to their former state, with the ground around at least one of them so waterlogged that that, too, is probably now also unworkable; which at least works in favour of the Skylarks, if nothing else, and which is another reason why it is so important that this ongoing habitat destruction and abuse of land-management needs to be investigated and stopped.

- attempts to work this part of the field had to be abandoned because it was so waterlogged -

...followed by:
...and two other interesting sections of the same requirement:
Compaction of both topsoil and subsoil can seriously damage overall soil structure, restrict root growth and reduce the air and water carrying capacity of the land.

Eay! What?


[ video date 05.09.2018, image date 30.08.2018 ]

- red tractor with towed roller assembly -

GAEC 6: Soil and Organic Matter – Maintenance

This requirement does not appear to apply in this case; however, GAEC 7 is a different matter entirely:

GAEC 7: Maintenance of Landscape Features

Yet more contraventions of GAEC:

The 'farmers' have an intriguing take on the last of the above directives:

i:) take one earth embankment (by definition a mound of earth or stone to hold back water or to support a roadway)1, and rip-out (or cut-down) all but the very largest of the trees:

- hedgerow and sapling destruction -

ii:)...follow this up by roughly scraping off the top of layer of groundcover and soil

- groundcover destruction through mechanical grading -

- groundcover destruction through mechanical grading -

iii:) you now no longer have an embankment [ problem solved ]...

- embankment levelled with groundcover and saplings removed -

There would definitely appear to be some confusion here, or maybe the farmers simply lost a page (or several?) from their Cross-Compliance handbook (or the plot altogether, possibly)?

[ 1 ] there is a charge on the land registry deed dated 22.10.1992 relating to a right of conveyance which, in turn, dates from 5th January 1924. The right allows for what is now a public right of way to be used for driving livestock and also for access to the river and lands to the other side of the river by horses, carraiges, and wagons; meaning, by extension, that the embankment was unquestionably intended to be just that and that, as such, it remains as such as long as that charge remains on the registry deed.



Finally, outside of GAEC, there is also a requirement to ensure that the ratio of permanent pasture to total agricultural area is maintained. A farmer may also require authorisation before they can convert permanent pasture should that ratio decrease, in addition to being required to re-convert land back to permanenet pasture should that ratio fall too low: https://beta.gov.wales/cross-compliance-2018

Greening: activities involving permanent grassland, crop diversification, and maintenance of permanent grassland. Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) can be used to count towards a farmer's Greening total. Greening activities can be (ab)used to gain additional BPS payments.

Basic Payment Scheme Greening Guidance

Cymru: the proper, and only, name for Wales

Cadw: the Welsh Government's historic environment service working for an accessible and well-protected historic environment for Wales.

Gwasanaeth amgylchedd hanesyddol Llywodraeth Cymru yw Cadw, sy’n gweithio i sicrhau bod amgylchedd hanesyddol Cymru yn hygyrch ac yn cael ei ddiogelu’n dda.

Cadw [ EN ] [ CY ]

Ecological Focus Areas: An Ecological Focus Area is an area of land upon which agricultural practices beneficial for the climate and the environment are carried-out and, unless exempt, a farmer is required to place at least 5% of their calculated arable area into one or more of the following 6 types of EFA in order to meet EFA commitments:
Normally EFA specific requirements are optional for any farmer managing not more than 15 hectares; beyond that, and definitely in this case, the area being destroyed (I am not sure that, in all good conciousness, I can use the word managing in this case) by The 'Farmers' of the Destroyed Fenland is considerably more than 15 hectares and, as such, they would most definitely, be required to comply with EFA rules, including those pertaining to permanent grassland and the protection of (which they have also broken additional to those concerning EIA, Greening, GAEC, and Cross-Compliance).

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): The EIA Regulations are designed to allow routine agricultural operations whilst protecting land with special environmental, historic or cultural importance.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) (Wales) Regulations 2017 apply to all semi-natural areas in Wales, excluding only forestry and woodlands (which have their own regulations), and are (supposed to be) handled by Natural Wales who, by law, have to be contacted prior to any work involving either of the following:
Environmental Impact Assessments Regulations

Agri-Environment Climate Scheme: in Cymru this appears to come under Glastir [ Green Land ]. The original overview of Glastir seems to have been lost in the transition to an updated government website, but the following Wikipedia article is accurate enough, with the second link being the current government Glastir webportal:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glastir

https://beta.gov.wales/glastir#content

The following linked article is also of interest and of concern, too: "A further £16m allocation will be made to the Sustainable Production Grant to help farmers prepare for the introduction of regulations to protect water quality from agricultural pollution and improve their nutrient management."

...followed by a statement from the Cabinet Secretary to the effect that: "Last month I announced I will be introducing all-Wales regulations to help the industry tackle the unacceptable levels of agricultural pollution on our water. I have allocated £16m through the Sustainable Production Grant to support the industry in this work"

https://gov.wales/ps80m-glastir-and-sustainable-production-grant

...and could the following linked article be why the CAP payments of the two farmers seem to have increased year-on-year by around 50% since 2016?

https://www.fwi.co.uk/business/payments-schemes/bps-granted-one-year-stay-of-execution-in-wales

Redistributive Payment: this is an extra payment per hectare for smaller farmers, typically based on around 50% of the Basic Payment area (which also means that if the Basic Payment Area can be made to expand, eg: through the destruction of buffer strips and land with special allocations that would normally need Environmental Impact Assessments and the like, this payment, too, can be made to increase nicely.

Reimbursement of Financial Discipline: the EU holds-back some of the BPS budget every year to create a reserve for use against any crises in the farming industry, eg: disease outbreaks. This money is then re-imbursed to the farmers the following year as an RFD payment.



Please Note: this site is undergoing ongoing changes and amendments as further details and evidence is gathered and added to the site, so please feel free to use the contact details given at the foot of this page should you have any questions or should you wish to submit further details or evidence of your own; but please do not send attachments without first contacting me, as the attachments will simply be deleted by the mail server otherwise.

All the media material on this site is available by request, including copies of the original .jpg, .mov, .mp4 files and additional material that is not currently part of the online article; likewise all letters and emails relating to contact with Rural Wales, the Environment Agency, and Natural Wales.

For anyone wanting to make their own reports of similar activities in their area, please contact me via my secure email address, and via a Protonmail account (free accounts available), if possible. Field numbers are also essential for reporting incidents to Rural Payments, and these can be determined via MAGIC [ Maps > Interactive Map > Where Am I? top menu-bar button) > click on relevant area on the main map for the field number after zooming-in on, or searching for, that area) ].

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Short URL: http://bit.do/DestroyedFenland



- Just John, @: Ex5NY27U corequery.uk

- secure email address as detailed above -

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