The Welsh Government has been accused of creating ‘considerable anger’ among farmers after around 1,000 letters were sent to Glastir contract holders alleging capital works had not been completed.
Farmers’ Union of Wales head of policy Nick Fenwick said many people had received letters indicating a penalty of six per cent would be applied for each failure to notify the completion of an item of capital work, with some incurring penalties of more than 25 per cent.
It is thought the change from paper to online notification may have contributed to the confusion, particularly among those farmers who opted to receive written correspondence, though there have also been suggestions some letters may have been sent out in error by the Welsh Government.
Dr Fenwick added: “Large numbers of businesses have undertaken costly environmental work as part of their Glastir agri-environmental agreements, but had no idea they were expected to notify the completion of this work to the Welsh Government.
“There has been a significant escalation in penalties, paperwork and pitfalls compared with the older flagship agri-environment schemes such as Tir Gofal and this has led to extreme frustration.
“We continue to urge the Welsh Government to find ways of ensuring those who opt for schemes aimed at improving the environment are not unfairly penalised due to rules and penalties often hidden in complex small print.”
NFU Cymru president Stephen James also said there had been a ‘higher than expected’ number of Glastir queries in recent weeks.
“We are currently helping and supporting our members in responding to these matters, which are creating additional workload for both farmers and NFU Cymru at a busy time of year”, he added.
A Welsh Government spokesman said details of all penalties for non-completion of capital works were set out in the scheme rules.
He added: “As part of the 2016 Glastir Entry annual payment validation, we have requested and issued follow-up reminders for the Activity Completion Form as confirmation capital work has been completed.
“Contract holders can appeal against these penalties and if they can provide appropriate evidence the work was completed within the timescale set out in the contract, penalties can be removed.”