THE owner of a diverse agricultural business in Denbighshire says the effects of the coronavirus lockdown will see his workforce drop down from more than 115 employees to around 40.

Lord Newborough, aka Robert Wynn of the Rhug Estate near Corwen, says that although he ‘appreciates Denbighshire statistics’ regarding the virus, he added that the Welsh Government’s decision to keep businesses closed for another three weeks at the end of May, ‘felt like a death wish’ on the rural economy.

Rhug Estate itself covers 2,500 acres extending from Gwyddelwern in the north, Carrog to the east, Cynwyd to the south and Maerdy to the west.

There is a drive-thru, a farm shop and restaurant on site, as well as about 27 tenancies including: let farms, forestry, cottages, commercial premises and storage.

Traditional sporting including shooting and fishing and can hold events including modern sports such as rally car driving, cross country running, mountain biking, canoeing and other public and farming calendar events.

Speaking about the effects the coronavirus pandemic will have on the business, Lord Newborough, said: “Our bistro has been closed for three months and we’ve only just re-opened the takeaway (below) where we have been serving key workers.

Denbighshire Free Press:

“Business at Rhug has been curtailed and these last three weeks have added even more pressure. On a normal summer’s weekend we would have 3000 visitors, now we would be lucky to have 30.

“We have already had to make redundancies and there will be more, with our workforce set to go from more than 115 people to around 40 by the time we re-open fully.

“Businesses need time to prepare for re-opening, proper training needs to be given and so on. We’ve been flying blind with no guidance from the Welsh Government, who seem to, judging by the decisions they’ve made, have a death wish on the rural economy.

“When I took over Rhug Estate in 1998, I wanted a prosperous Wales, not one that had to rely on other countries to bail us out.

"Now we are in a situation where, in rural Wales - which is already desperate for employment opportunities - jobs are in jeopardy and it’s the young people of the area who will suffer the most.”