The Farmers’ Union of Wales has repeated its concerns that there is still no clarity around the budget available for the Habitat Wales scheme, which launched on Friday 29 September 2023.

The scheme replaces the former Glastir scheme and it is understood that more than 17,000 Welsh farmers may be eligible to apply for the scheme.

FUW President Ian Rickman said: “We are extremely concerned by the lack of clarity on the budget available. The uncertainty for farming business is immense and no business should be expected to operate under such circumstances.

“While those currently with Glastir contracts will be prioritised for contracts, the confirmed payment rates are around 45 per cent lower on average than the payments for habitat land under Glastir Advanced.

“Reduced payment rates along with the loss of whole farm management payments and support for capital works means that those currently in Glastir will receive significantly smaller payments next year if they decide to enter the scheme.

“In addition, due to time constraints, the Welsh Government will not have the ability to deal with mapping issues or offer a second round of contracts beyond 1 January 2024, even if the budget allowed.”

While the FUW understands the pressures on the rural development budget, not least as a result of cuts made by the UK Government, it is essential that the Habitat Wales Scheme receives at least as much funding as the schemes it will replace.

Members who are concerned about the application forms are encouraged to speak to their local county office.