Man charged after tractor protest outside office of government minister

A man has been charged after a farmers' protest involving tractors outside the office of a Welsh government minister.

North Wales Police said they were called to a report that a number of vehicles were blocking a road in Wrexham on Monday afternoon.

The force received the report shortly after 2.10pm that Rhosddu Road was being blocked as part of an organised protest.

Videos shared on social media showed a number of tractors outside the office of the Welsh government's rural affairs minister, Lesley Griffiths.

Police said the man has been charged with criminal damage.

He is due to appear at Wrexham Magistrates' Court on 27 February.

The force confirmed the vehicles on Monday had been moved on.

Superintendent Jon Bowcott said: "Police officers attended a report of a protest in Wrexham city.

"Early positive action was taken to deal with an isolated incident of criminal damage and a man has been arrested in connection with the incident.

"The protest has now dispersed, and North Wales Police will continue to monitor the situation."

The protest comes after recent demonstrations by farmers in France, and in many European countries, who are opposed to their governments' regulations and are concerned about a fall in income amid rising costs.

Last week, around 3,000 farmers gathered in a livestock mart in Carmarthen, West Wales, to oppose Welsh government plans.

A number of meetings have been held across the country, with farming unions expressing concern about government proposals which could see a sustainable farming scheme (SFS) replacing the basic payment scheme.

This would become the primary source of government funding for farmers in Wales.

Farms would be rewarded for actions that meet specific climate obligations.

One of those conditions would be for 10% of farmland to be covered with trees by 2030.

While this applies only to land where conditions allow, farming unions are worried about the long-term future of the industry with those additional regulations.

'Feeling of fear'

The discontent farmers are feeling in Wales is due to a combination of factors, according to NFU Cymru president Aled Jones.

"Of course, this feeling of fear, the fear of what's going to happen in the future if these plans go ahead, it's across Wales," he told Sky News.

The government's latest consultation is the "last step", Mr Jones added.

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The Welsh government says the sustainable farming scheme aims to "keep farmers farming" and "safeguard the environment".

"The final consultation on the scheme is still open and we encourage everyone to reply with their views by 7 March," a spokesperson said.

"No final decision will be taken on the scheme until after the consultation has taken place, and we will listen carefully to all views."