The Wildlife Trust has praised a proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme that has been met with concern from other quarters.

Plaid Cymru and farming unions have voiced concern over plans within the scheme to require farmers to plant trees on 10 per cent of their land.

The Wildlife Trust however has praised the plan, which it says will reduce flooding.

Tim Birch, senior policy and advocacy manager with Wildlife Trusts Wales, said: “Farming and nature are mutually beneficial – and farmers should be recognised and rewarded for bringing nature back, keeping rivers clear of pollution and for locking carbon in soil.

“So it’s vital there’s enough funding for the huge task ahead. Everybody in Wales stands to benefit if we get this new scheme right – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure farm businesses have a sustainable, viable future.”

Rachel Sharp, director of Wildlife Trusts Wales, added: “It’s important that taxpayers’ money is spent on things that benefit the people of Wales.

“The Sustainable Farming Scheme will assist in reducing the number of homes flooded, ensure cleaner air, and enable farmers to store carbon in natural habitats that reduce the effects of climate change. These are recognised as ‘public goods’.

“The industrial farming that you see across much of Wales is the result of a broken food system that is failing farmers.

“A new system is desperately needed, and the new proposals will support farmers towards climate and nature-friendly farming.”

Llyr Gruffydd MS, Plaid Cymru’s shadow minister for rural affairs, has warned that the government’s continued commitment to the arbitrary 10 per cent figure for tree planting is a mistake that would prove unworkable and unviable for many farm businesses.

He said: “Plaid Cymru still has fundamental concerns about Labour’s stance on the arbitrary 10 per cent tree cover proposal.

“We’ve been consistent on this since the start. Whilst recognising that the government at last accepts that exemption is possible under certain circumstances, this doesn’t go far enough.

“As it stands the scheme remains unworkable and unviable for many farm businesses.

“Just this week I challenged the minister on how farmers will be recompensed for any devaluation of their land as a result of tree planting. She failed to answer. If this isn’t addressed it will drive farmers away from entering the scheme, undermining what it could achieve.

“It’s also disappointing that the minister still cannot provide any detail on the scheme’s budget and payment rates. Without this information it’s difficult to provide a meaningful response on how the different proposed actions will affect the industry.

“These proposals will introduce the biggest change to farm support seen in Wales in a generation and I urge everyone to make their voice heard by responding to the consultation.”

The scheme is currently in its final consultation phase and farmers are being encouraged to have their say.