Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Economy
In March 2022, we acquired Gilestone Farm for £4.25m against an agreed open market valuation of £4.325m to support the growth of the creative sector in a stronger Mid Wales economy.
We have been in discussions with Green Man for a number of years about the potential to support the future growth of the brand in Wales. Green Man is a key employer in Mid Wales, making a significant contribution to the local economy and providing employment in its main festival business and in an increasing number of related ventures, which place a strong emphasis on sustainable development.
The proposal from Green Man for a base in the Usk Valley presented us with a sustainable, economic development opportunity in a rural area and the chance to anchor a successful brand within Wales. Our support for a sustainable rural business opportunity at Gilestone Farm specifically aligns with the goals set out in the Mid Wales Growth Deal, which was signed by both the Welsh and UK governments in 2022. Sustainable tourism, food and drink and agriculture are key sectors of focus in the deal and we are an active partner in supporting development in these areas.
Green Man met with local representatives recently and shared its vision for the site. It is looking to create a new "sustainable rural enterprise", which it says will generate £23m for the local economy, provide at least 38 new full-time jobs and support 300 local jobs through its supply chain.
No additional commercial activities will be permitted at Gilestone Farm without the required licences and permissions being secured and the appropriate environmental assessments being undertaken.
Alongside partners including Green Man, Powys Council and Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority we will ensure we continue engaging with the local community about the future of the site.
The Mid Wales Growth Deal sets out ambitions for a distinctive region that is capable of retaining and attracting young people in the face of major demographic challenges.
It is important we support interventions that take forward the shared ambitions set out in the deal to help the fast-moving creative sector develop and thrive in Wales.
There has been a clear shift in the demographics of the area, reinforcing the need to work collectively to ensure appropriate rural economic development can flourish to create the jobs and supply chain opportunities, which thriving communities depend on. We are committed to helping more young people plan ambitious futures in Mid Wales because they will define the long-term success of the regional economy.
The business plan presented by Green Man has strong strategic alignment with the aims and objectives of our Programme for Government and the Well-being of Future Generations Act. In addition to farming, the proposed activities are centred around the following:
- A creative hub
- New live experiences and smaller scale gatherings
- Food and beverage production, including support for brewing and bakery businesses
- Sustainable tourism
- Weddings and other events
There is an established history of tourism and small-scale events at Gilestone Farm, alongside a number of existing businesses and economic activity that could be further enhanced to develop the first rural creative hub in Wales. It is important to emphasise the site would not be used as a location for the Green Man Festival itself. Gilestone Farm is not big enough and it would not be logical to move it six miles to an undeveloped site.
The proposals under consideration stipulate the sustainable principles of Green Man would be incorporated into the agricultural activity on-site and assessments undertaken to ensure all activities worked in harmony with the environment, underpinning the farm’s biodiversity. As an example, the business plan sets out that all future farming activities would use best practice in managing excess phosphates leaching into the River Usk.
Based on the due diligence work undertaken by officials to date, I have agreed the process can move forward to its next stage. I have approved:
- Access, by licence, to Green Man representatives to undertake environmental and other surveys required to apply for appropriate operating licences and permissions for their proposal.
- The commencement of formal commercial lease negotiations with Green Man.
Further consultation will take place with the local community, working closely with Powys Council and Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority. Once this work and final due diligence has been completed, a full and final options appraisal will be submitted to me for my consideration. I will then reach a decision and make an oral statement to Members.
In the meantime, Gilestone Farm remains under a management agreement with the previous owner via a Farm Business Tenancy on commercial terms. There has been no change of use at the site since it was acquired by the Welsh Government to require further environmental or planning assessments or considerations.
I am aware of the significant community interest in the Green Man proposals, alongside media interest and indeed the continued interest of Senedd Members. I will therefore be publishing a set of Frequently Asked Questions on our website, which will be available from tomorrow at Gilestone Farm: frequently asked questions.