Powys councillors and farmers are all united in opposition to Rewilding Britain’s plan to ‘rewild’ up to 63,000 hectares of Welsh land and sea. The councillors are the latest group to vote against the plan which has been described as bare face land grabbing
At Powys County Council’s full council meeting last week, a motion was passed by an overwhelming majority to oppose Rewilding Britain’s Summit to Sea project. The motion was put forward to the council by group leader Cllr Elwyn Vaughan and the motion passed by 41 votes for, four against and with one abstention.
Speaking to Powys County Times, Cllr Vaughan added that if this action was happening in Africa or South America, “every socialist or PC (politically correct) person” would be taking to social media to condemn it. He also added “The truth is, that this is privileged middle-class romanticism and nothing more than that.”
Also opposing the plans, Cllr Alexander, said:
“…these people have decided to re-categorise land they don’t even own.
“The only think I can liken it to, is: you invite people to dinner and they put your house on the market. The expression that came to my mind is, what a flippin’ liberty! “
Farmers are also in full agreement about rejecting the plan
This comes after a meeting held in Talybont, Ceredigion in July of this year which was attended by around 160 individuals from the Summit to Sea ‘project area’, farmers and others. All those present also opposed the plan and expressed extreme concerns that the plan was allowed to be tried out in the first place.
In October 2018 Rewilding Britain announced their plans in the form of the £3.4 million Summit to Sea project. Rewilding Britain claimed at the time that the Summit to Sea land and sea area will within “five years…comprise at least 10,000 hectares…” but the project area map actually covers around 63,000 hectares (156,000 acres) of north Ceredigion and Montgomeryshire.
This includes Pumlumon, a large area of which has been sold by The Crown Estate to Summit to Sea ‘partners’ The Waterloo Foundation. Other partners which own or manage land in the area include The Woodland Trust, Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Wales Wild Land Foundation and Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
It was also noted that the proposals were causing considerable damage to relationships between local and agricultural communities and Summit to Sea/Rewilding Britain ‘partner’ organisations, including the RSPB, Woodland Trust and others.
The point was also made at the July meeting that, notwithstanding some differences, the farming community and bodies such as the RSPB etc. share a great deal of common ground and common objectives in relation to conservation, whereas the aims of Rewilding Britain, including the objective of rewilding a quarter of the UK, were in direct conflict with agriculture, particularly in the uplands, as well as being damaging for conservation and species which rely on sustainable agriculture.
This was highlighted recently in the statement released by the wild plant conservation charity Plantlife, and their view that “New analysis by Plantlife shows that more than half of all wild plants need regular management or disturbance to thrive; 611 (39.6%) species will decline within a decade if the land on which they grow is simply abandoned and 127 (16.4%) will decline within 1-3 years.”
Another audience member representative of the fishing industry present at the July meeting commented that he felt there had been very misleading and negative references made by those supporting the project regarding fishing. Fishing in the area, in contrast to the negative claims made, is a sustainable industry.
The meeting was held in Welsh with a small number of non Welsh speakers using headsets for translation. The audience was a mixture of local farmers and land owners, and also people recently moved to the areas who some might describe as ‘good lifers’. All of these agreed in unison how much they were against the project.
In light of all these concerns, those present voted overwhelmingly (estimated to be 95% or more of those present) in support of a motion that Rewilding Britain should not be involved in any such project in the area, and that the charity should leave and not be involved in any current or future projects in the area.
Those present also voted overwhelmingly to establish a committee comprising representation from all the communities encompassed by the Summit to Sea project area boundary in order to fight against the project.
Many commentators are also saying that the farmers, land owners and others involved locally should start their own environmental charity for the area to protect themselves from being dictated to by any future agenda driven by land grabbing charities and agencies from outside the area and outside of Wales.
The relationships between various bodies and individuals linked to the project and its £3.4 million of funding have also raised many eyebrows. As seen in the diagram above, the various links involve some of the UK’s biggest charities and groups, governmental bodies and Lisbet Rausing, grand daughter of Ruben Rausing, co-founder of Tetra Pak. Lisbet Rausing is said to be one of the UK’s top ten richest women.