NFU Cymru has written to Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority to highlight that the views of farmers, particularly common land graziers, must be heard in discussions about the future of the area. 

The farming union has written to the authority’s Chief Executive Catherine Mealing-Jones to stress that farmers, common land graziers and tenant farmers in Bannau Brycheiniog National Park should be adequately represented in all groups and discussions around land management in the area.

Around 35 per cent of land in Bannau Brycheiniog, also known as the Brecon Beacons, is home to commons, providing valuable grazing for rights holders. In many cases this common land has been managed by farming families for centuries, making it an intrinsic part of Welsh cultural heritage and tradition that also delivers for ecosystems and habitats for nature. NFU Cymru says it is absolutely vital that the voice of those living and working on the land in these areas is heard in wider planning and strategy discussions around the future of the national park.

Concerns held by common land graziers in the national park were one of the main talking points amongst visitors to the NFU Cymru/NFU Mutual stand at the annual Brecon County Show last Saturday.

NFU Cymru Brecon & Radnor and Monmouthshire County Adviser Stella Owen said: “Agriculture has been an integral part of life in Bannau Brycheiniog National Park for centuries, with farmers producing food alongside managing a landscape that is home to residents, businesses and attracts visitors from around the world.

“Common land continues to be a vital resource to many farm businesses who hold common land rights within the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, while also delivering multiple benefits for the people and communities of Wales.” 

NFU Cymru Less Favoured Area (LFA) Board Chair Kath Whitrow said: “Welsh Government’s development of a Sustainable Farming Scheme and wider societal discussion around climate change mean that land use is a conversation point amongst committees and groups in the area.

“It is becoming noticeable that many groups are being formed, for a whole host of reasons and it is crucial that discussions around the environment, agriculture and land management do not exclude contributions from common land graziers who live, work and run businesses in the national park area.

“Indeed, NFU Cymru would contend that there is an opportunity to form a designated Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority (BBNPA) group of those common land grazing associations within the national park to ensure that this important group’s voice is heard and represented in meetings.

“The BBNPA’s management plan recognises that farming must be economically viable in order to continue delivering for the benefit of residents and visitors to the national park. Farming will also be an integral player in helping the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park and Wales as a whole achieve their respective net zero aspirations, therefore it is important that all parties work in harmony to achieve our shared objectives.”

Last year NFU Cymru released its Shaping Welsh Farming’s Future: NFU Cymru’s Policy Priorities For Common Land paper, which brought a number of key recommendations aimed at ensuring future policy frameworks enable common land rights holders to continue delivering benefits for the people and communities of Wales. The document is available on the NFU Cymru website.