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

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

- location and Land Registry map of destroyed fenland area -
Location: (OSGB36)
Easting = 248288
Northing = 352867
Grid Ref = SH48285286
National Grid Field No = SH 4852 2886
Latitude = 53°3'4.31"N
Longitude = 4°15'49.32"W
Latitude = 53°3.0718'"N
Longitude = 4°15.8219'"W
Latitude = 53.051196
Longitude = -4.263699
Postcode = LL54 6HG

...this time two farmers, both local, who together undertook to spray a wildlife-rich area of wet fenland and permanent grassland (which I witnessed), complete with numerous open drainage channels and a river (which is known and confirmed to contain otters, - a protected and endangered species), 40 days before they are allowed to under law (30th June) and without any heed whatsoever to the drainage channels, before mowing the area flat (including the skylarks, also protected, which were raising young fledglings amongst the dead marsh grass), ploughing it, and then running a roller over it for no other purpose than to abuse SFP and CAP payments, and to create a flattened wasteland of mud for sheep.

To date this destruction comprises of the events listed below, the land currently being grazed by sheep (in between very large lakes of agri-chemical polluted groundwater every time it rains, most of which never drains away), and drainage channels which are now serving more as muddy obstacles for the sheep than draininge channels.

5th July 2019: the area in question, whilst still lacking much of its original character, has now recovered quite well; also, to their credit, the farmers have been leaving this alone. The drainage channels have been re-colonised to a large extent, too, and for the time being, at least, even if doubtless unintentially after discovering the meaning of soakaway, this area is serving as a good example of how an area can be (or can revert to) semi-improved without loss of use to the farmer.

21st May 2018: field areas sprayed with herbicide (40 days before the earliest allowed date as set by law)1

27th - 28th June 2018: field areas mown, - yellow/green tractor

29th June 2018: baling / boundary, border, and buffer zone areas mown flat and deliberately destroyed

6th August 2018: major trimming of boundary hedgerows and copse areas2

10th August 2018: field areas ploughed and harrowed

18th August 2018: further mechanized groundwork

29th - 30th August 2018: area rolled, levelled, and compacted with a tractor-towed roller

4th September 2018: area spread with fertilizer or similar, and seeded with a brassica / grass mix for sheep

5th September 2018: further levelling and compacting with a tractor-towed roller

5th September 2018: additional updates submitted to, and requested from, RPW, the EPA, NRW, and the Heddlu further to the original complaint

19th February 2019: additional updates submitted to, and requested from, RPW, the EPA, NRW, Hywel Griffiths (AS, Plaid Cymru), and Lesley Griffiths (AM | AC, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs [ Gweinidog yr Amgylchedd, Ynni a Materion Gwledig ] further to the original complaint

22nd May 2019: further spraying almost six weeks before the 30th June, this time on land adjacent to Gwynfaes by a blue tractor using a boom sprayer (details below)

18th June 2019:

20th June 2019:

24th June 2019:

7th July 2019:

Further activities: reports of illegal baiting and hunting of wildlife, sometimes with dogs, and indications of raptor persecution

Project Updates:
sanctions have now been applied by Rural Inspectorate Wales, although there has been no confirmation of whether these sanctions have been applied to Pritchard, Jones, or both.

Lesley Griffiths AM | AC, Gweinidog yr Amgylchedd, Ynni a Materion Gwledig [ Minister for the Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs ] has confirmed that Natural Resources Wales have inspected the site, and whilst there is no need for further action as it stands, there is no question over the site being on level with the watertable and a soakaway, and thus unsuited to further improvement without the risk of serious waterway contamination, flooding, and damage to surrounding habitats.

Reed Warblers [ Acrocephalus scirpaceus ], Sedge Warblers [ Acrocephalus schoenobaenus ], and Grasshopper Warblers [ Locustella Nævia ] can also be found among, and nesting, in the reeds along the bank of the river, which would be fantastic news were it not for the ongoing threat of further destruction and spraying with agro-chemicals.

During the period from August through to September, 2018, under the guise of ploughing and rolling, several tons of crushed aggregate were also buried in the ground in order to eradicate the wetland structure of the ground and to firm it up for sheep grazing. In the process several of the original drainage channels (which were likely put in place by Dŵr Cymru during the laying of a waste water pipe across the floodplain several decades ago) were, likewise, removed, infilled with crushed stone and earth, and compacted or so badly damaged that they no longer serve any purpose.4

This has not only completely destroyed a valuable wetland habitat, making it all but impossible to restore in the process, but has also turned a natural soakaway into a compacted mass of stone and clotted earth that will ultimately become absolutely worthless and serve no purpose beyond causing massive surface erosion and a great deal of debris run-off into the river (which is already silting up and flooding partly as a direct consequence of their addled approach to land management). The farm responsible for the destruction of this land and (interestingly enough) the address of the landowner, too (for the receipt of CAP payments, at least), is back from the field in question, and located over the other side of the river, off the Tanyrallt road.

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening application should also have been submitted on this land (and never was) and breaching the regulations is both illegal and a potentially prosecutable offence, with a requirement to reinstate the land to its previous condition and/or a Cross Compliance penalty on the farmer's Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) or Rural Development Scheme payments. This incident was also reported to the Heddlu [ Police - Peacekeepers ], Rural Payments Wales (RPW), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

The Heddlu showed an interest, but have effectively been emasculated by budget cuts, the EPA (whilst doing their best to avoid having to investigate or take samples) did an excellent job of putting me in touch with RPW (who were very helpful and completely ignored the matter, eventually deciding to take action and impose sanctions only following pressure from Lesley Griffiths AM | AC), and NRW made it quite obvious that they do not ever want the Heddlu investigating anything and that as far as they were concerned, reportable incident or no, the matter would have been quietly and quickly shut down but that they could not do that this time because of the Heddlu being involved.5

To Mr Jones and Mr Pritchard, 'Farmers' of the Destroyed Fenland, it is evident that you both place plenty of value in the environment:

- amounts received under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for 2016 showing combined payments of £66,250.54, including £13,266.97 for Greening -

- amounts received under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for 2017 showing combined payments of £89,491.14, including £17,719.89 for Greening -
...unfortunately, whereas most people value the environment as something to benefit us all, it would appear that you only value it in a form that lines your pocket, so to speak.


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