A new report highlights how rural businesses in Torfaen can be transformed into competitive sustainable enterprises that could lead the way for the rest of rural Wales.
The report, "A land based production study in the rural areas of Torfaen" identifies ways to enhance Torfaen’s natural resources through sustainable land use which will create new business opportunities for tourism, renewable energy, arts and crafts, forestry and community food production.
The report demonstrates how land owners, farmers and businesses can enhance the rural economy and environment through low impact livestock farming and increasing horticulture and biodiversity in the area.
It aims to help Torfaen County Borough Council meet the challenges presented in Torfaen’s Rural Development Plan for creating and maintaining a viable and sustainable supply chain in the region.
Iain Cox, the report's author and director of Ecostudio led the project, with support from f3 and IBERS at Aberystwyth University, says that Torfaen County Borough Council have shown their ambition and vision for making sustainable, economic and rural development happen.
“This report offers a blueprint for rural development activity not only in Torfaen but in other Welsh regions. It’s unique because it makes the links between rural business and sustainable land use and it demonstrates how this can reinvigorate the rural economy.
“Torfaen has an important industrial past and rich cultural heritage that when combined with its natural resources provides opportunities that will enable businesses in Torfaen to adapt to the challenges of a tough economy and a changing climate.”
The report has been commissioned by Torfaen Rural Action Group (CreaTe) at Torfaen County Borough Council and recommends practical ways for developing a sustainable supply chain for Torfaen produce through business mentoring, linking heritage sites,creating areas for biodiversity and branding the region through a producer quality mark such as ‘Made in Torfaen’.
“This report, produced by Ecostudio is a great example of how Torfaen can embrace sustainable practices and help farmers and rural businesses thrive in the longer term. Torfaen County Borough Council is committed to supporting innovation and sustainability in the local economy and the findings of this report will help us meet the challenges set out in Torfaen's Rural Development Plan,” said Nikki Davies, Rural Development Programmer Manager at Torfaen County Borough Council.
Ecostudio consulted with over 50 rural businesses across seven rural wards of Torfaen during six months. Several businesses were shortlisted to receive individually tailored advice and a practical sustainability plan.
Andrew Tovey from Penyparc Farm took part in the project because he wanted to discover ways to grow his business and protect it from rising fuel costs. His business provides feed to livestock farmers and animal owners. The feed is made from grain grown on farm and by-products from energy crops and the food industry that would otherwise go to waste. Commenting on the project he said “Ecostudio helped us look at ways to reduce our fuel bills and to market ourselves in ways that show how we benefit the local economy. We’d like help from the CreaTe Team to develop ways to share distribution runs with other farmers and we’re planning to use this money to market our feed to a wider customer base.”
The findings from the report will be prioritised and implemented during the current Rural Development Plan for Torfaen which runs until the end of 2013, and for activities that can be done beyond that.