HUW Irranca-Davies has been appointed Wales' new rural affairs secretary, replacing Lesley Griffiths who was in the role for eight years.

New First Minister Vaughan Gething has announced his cabinet at a time when Welsh farmers have taken to the streets in anger over government policy. Much of this has come as a result of plans to require farmers to plant trees on 10 per cent of their plantable land, or lose access to post-Brexit subsidies. 

Forestry Journal: Lesley Griffiths' time as rural affairs minister came to an end after eight years Lesley Griffiths' time as rural affairs minister came to an end after eight years

Mr Irranca-Davies, from South Glamorgan, brings experience to the portfolio, having previously presided as Defra Parliamentary Under Secretary and Shadow Defra Minister. As his role has been updated to include climate change (previously Julie James oversaw this department in a separate cabinet position to Ms Griffiths), he is now responsible for forestry in the country. 

His appointment has been welcomed by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which hopes he will "reset" the relationship between the Welsh government and rural Wales. 

Its Welsh director, Victoria Bond, said: "We warmly welcome Huw Irranca-Davies to the new, combined role covering rural affairs and climate change and look forward to working closely together.

“We're confident Mr Irranca-Davies' breadth of experience will help reset the relationship between the government and rural Wales. This is a crucial time for farming and the rural economy in Wales, and while the general direction of travel of agricultural policy is the right one we need to work together to make schemes workable.

"Collaboration will be key to fighting climate change, looking after the environment, feeding the nation, creating jobs and building homes.

Forestry Journal: Vaughan Gething became Wales' new first minister this week Vaughan Gething became Wales' new first minister this week

“It is encouraging that Mr Irranca-Davies is already keen to listen to and engage with rural Wales. Persistently low economic productivity is hampering rural businesses, as highlighted by the recent Senedd Cross Party Group for Rural Growth's report, but with the right support and ambition the vast potential of the Welsh countryside can be unlocked."

Lesley Griffiths, who was embroiled in a row over farm subsidy changes, moves from rural affairs to become Culture and Social Justice Secretary.

Announcing his new cabinet, Mr Gething said: “I’m incredibly proud to bring together a government drawn from all parts of Wales to serve the whole of our nation, with progressive politics at its heart.

“In particular, I am pleased to appoint a minister for mental health and early years to ensure we deliver in the first 1,000 days of the life of every child.

“While there will be many challenges ahead, there are even greater opportunities. I am ambitious about the work this team will do to make Wales an even better place.”