Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Andrew RT Davies has announced a Welsh Conservative Government would scrap the ‘bloated and incompetent’ body Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
Mr Davies called for the radical shake-up after the quango was embroiled in a scandal over the sale of publicly-owned timber, which cost the taxpayer more than £1 million.
Rural groups also criticised the body for its recent controversial decision to ban game shooting on public land, against official advice.
And further problems arose for NRW when Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary, Llyr Gruffydd, questioned the appointment of Sir David Henshaw as the body’s interim chair because of concerns about his controversial work history.
Mr Davies has now proposed NRW be abolished and replaced by two separate bodies – one to handle its regulatory duties and the other its commercial dealings.
He said: “It has been clear for some time that NRW is no longer fit for purpose and the Welsh public has lost faith in the organisation.
“As part of our exciting vision for Wales post-Brexit, we would scrap this bloated and largely incompetent quango and ensure the regulatory and commercial duties were carried out separately and effectively.
“We will ensure Government departments and organisations are delivering value for money for the taxpayer and listening to our communities while making evidence-based decisions.”
Responding to the Welsh Conservative proposals, a Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) spokesman said the union always had concerns about the amalgamation of the Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency Wales and the Forestry Commission Wales, and how separate functions and duties would be carried out effectively.
“Many of those concerns remain, and we certainly believe something has to be done,” the spokesman added.
“A major concern is the degree to which Welsh farmers and others with a direct link to Welsh land have all but disappeared from the NRW board.”