Pembrokeshire County Council has issued a statement saying it is "extremely supportive of our rural community," after farmers voiced their anger at an internal newsletter asking staff to eat less meat and dairy.

The newsletter, which cited it as one of the ‘biggest ways to reduce your impact on the planet', has since been withdrawn.

The council responded to criticism by saying it was part of a series of tips for saving the planet, with details gathered from an external source.

A spokesperson for Pembrokeshire County Council said: “This information was a small part of a much larger internal newsletter and not an instruction to colleagues.

“The newsletter has been featuring a series of ‘climate change tip of the week’ posts each week which have been extracted from an external source.  

“The statement was reproduced out of context and the newsletter has been withdrawn.  

"The council is extremely supportive of our rural community and agriculture in general.”

The Countryside Alliance Wales responded by asking the council to ‘pledge its wholehearted support’ for Welsh farmers by committing to only source local produce.

Rachel Evans, the Alliance’s director for Wales said: “What local farmers in Wales need right now is to know local representatives have their back and for them not to be briefing against their industry behind closed doors.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that an animal rights agenda is masquerading itself as genuine environmentalism, which in this case has been legitimatised by the local council.

“Pembrokeshire County Council should be transparent about who the ‘external source’ is and whether taxpayers are funding their inappropriate advice.

“In order for farmers to maintain our beautiful countryside here in Wales, we need people to continue buying their produce, including meat and dairy. Without a buoyant market for it, the countryside risks deteriorating.”