A sustainable future
Wales is significantly ahead of England when it comes to planning for a green future and a more sustainable national and rural economy. As a rural town, Llandovery is well placed to take full advantage of the Welsh Government’s progressive approach to rural development. The first Rural Development Plan for Wales 2014-2020 was developed in the context of the EU Common Agricultural Policy.
and focused on:
sustainability and promoting investment in rural areas
economic diversification the competitiveness of the rural economy (agriculture, forestry and rural Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs)
sustainable management of natural resources and climate action
balanced territorial development of rural areas.
The Rural Development Plan for Wales is currently being updated within the post-Brexit funding framework. The strategic direction will as before but will also embrace the need to address the climate emergency green investment and promote the sustainable use of Wales’s abundant natural resource base.
The One Planet Development (OPD) planning policy is also part of the Welsh Government’s sustainable development scheme, One Wales: One Planet, which aims to bring Wales’s use of resources down to the global average. OPD is helping to achieve this goal by offering people a route to a more sustainable way of life, providing a way for people to live and work on their own land with measurable social, economic and environmental benefits. The policy fits into the wider vision of the Welsh Government to make Wales “more sustainable, by reducing its ‘ecological footprint’ to a level that’s fair compared to the rest of the planet’s population and resources”.
Recent consultations at UK Parliamentary level have focused on promoting local businesses and projects that create local employment and support thriving local towns that are the centre of Welsh language and cultural life. The Welsh Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament has released a report on ‘The economic and cultural impacts of trade and environmental policy on family farms in Wales’
Welsh farming is still the economic backbone of rural communities but faces an uncertain future: around a fifth of Welsh farms have a farm business income of less than zero with an average income of £26,000 per farm; and farmland is being targeted by corporations looking for ‘carbon offset schemes’. The report underlines the need for diversification and innovative investment in the rural Welsh economy.
Local organisations are active in these debates. For example, Calon Cymru Network (CCN) is a community interest company and consultancy that lobbies the Wales and UK governments and submitted an evidence paper to the Welsh Affairs Committee for the above report. CCN promotes Sustainable local development along the Heart of Wales Line corridor between Llanelli in Carmarthenshire, and Knighton in Powys, just over the border with England. Its members include geographers, planners, architects, farmers, and development specialists, and contribute to regeneration projects along the Heart of Wales in line with the principles of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Environment (Wales) Act 2016. CCN also supports Community Land Trust (CLTs) to deliver sustainable affordable housing and has contributed to proposals for local development around Llandovery.