Development of a £15m ‘net zero farming centre’ in North Wales

  • The Centre will play a key role in helping the UK meet its carbon neutral targets

As preparations continue for the centre of excellence at Coleg Cambria Llysfasi, near Ruthin in Denbighshire, project manager George Fisher has been busy garnering the support, opinions and concerns of farmers and relevant stakeholders across the region.

Since joining the college earlier this year – in partnership with North Wales Economic Ambition Board, drivers of the Growth Deal which includes the net zero farming centre as part of its Agri-food and Tourism programme – George has connected with farmers regionally and beyond to offer support and information that will help them get ready for the watershed transition.

The UK Government has set 2050 as its net zero deadline; the Welsh Government believes it can be done sooner and the National Farmers Union (NFU) is aiming for 2040 by encouraging landowners and managers to improve productive efficiency and land management, boost renewable energy on-farm and the look at options for capturing carbon.

George agrees this will make a difference, and that Llysfasi will prove decisive in helping to educate, demonstrate and innovate for future generations.

“There is a hunger there to get this done and to make the changes needed to meet these targets to improve efficiency, which will in turn improve profits and business models,” he said.

“The main challenge I have is the sheer complexity and number of different organisations and individuals to tap into, but already we have had very positive feedback and are making progress.

“The plan is to put a spade in the ground next year and be ready to go in September 2023, and we are very much on course for that. Discussions and relationships will continue to be forged throughout 2021 – hopefully in person as Covid restrictions ease – and we can make even more headway throughout 2022.”

The 15-year initiative will pioneer new technologies in digital and precision agriculture and renewable energy and will host a suite of demonstration facilities where farmers and land managers can learn best practice and see for themselves how they can be applied.

The hub will aim to improve the uptake of renewable energy initiatives with a target of 40 projects over five years, along with improved knowledge transfer to 500 businesses and communities.

It will provide opportunities for commercial testing of market-ready technology whilst delivering a financial injection and further diversification of the region’s rural economy.