Applications for the Habitat Wales Scheme can be made from this Friday (September 29), the Welsh Minister for Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, has announced.

Griffiths said contracts under the new agri-environment scheme will commence in January of 2024.

The Habitat Wales Scheme will be an interim scheme to ensure a “seamless transition” from the end of Glastir in December 2023 until the anticipated start of the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) in 2025.

Griffiths said the scheme is an important part of Wales’ response to the nature emergency.

“It offers an opportunity to maintain and increase the area of habitat land under management across Wales and will be available to all eligible farmers, including Glastir Advanced, Commons and Organic farmers,” she said.

“It will ensure the work which has taken place through Glastir will continue and is extended as we work towards the introduction of the Sustainable Farming Scheme in 2025.”

‘Difficult financial situation’

Griffiths said members will be aware of the “incredibly difficult financial situation” that Wales is facing, which is having an impact across all portfolios.

“Our financial position is up to £900 million lower in real terms than we expected at the time of the last spending review in 2021, due to very high inflation and energy prices and the mismanagement of the economy by the UK government,” she said.

“As you’ll be aware, the cabinet has been working throughout the summer to do everything we can to mitigate these budgetary pressures.

“Once this work has been completed, I will be in a position to confirm the budget for the scheme.”

Griffiths said the Welsh government is opening the scheme now so that farmers who are interested can see the scheme details and proposed payment rates and apply, ready for contracts to begin in January.

“I would encourage anyone interested in continuing Wales’ proud tradition of agri-environment participation, which aims to benefit our native biodiversity and combat climate change, to give full consideration to applying to the Habitat Wales Scheme, once the application window opens,” she said.


Earlier this month, the Welsh branch of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU Cymru) voiced concern that current Glastir contract holders could be left “worse off” as a result of the transition to the new Habitat Wales Scheme.

The union’s rural affairs board has said farmers are fearing the transition to the new environment scheme as it could result in loss of income.

Chair of the NFU Cymru rural affairs board, Hedd Pugh, said: “In a letter to the minister last month, NFU Cymru stressed the need to provide a stable and well-planned transition from current to future schemes.

“We have welcomed Welsh government’s reassurances that it intends to make this period of change as easy as possible for farmers through offering a fair transition over several years and making sure there is no cliff edge in funding.

“However, our concern is that Welsh government appears to have made a decision of such significance without comprehensive impact assessment and economic modelling. This is deeply concerning.”

Pugh said thousands of farmers with Glastir contracts face the prospect of a significant loss of income from the end of the year with Welsh government unable to provide any reassurance that the new, interim scheme will match levels of income currently received through Glastir.

“This is far from a ‘fair transition’,” he said.

“For contract holders, Glastir is a critical component of farm business incomes, including supporting the organic farming sector in Wales.

“With farm input costs through the roof and interest rates soaring, the loss of Glastir leaves farmers currently under contract in a worrying situation.”