Forestry

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons am 1:40 pm ar 27 Mawrth 1996.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr Tom Arnold Mr Tom Arnold , Hazel Grove 1:40, 27 Mawrth 1996

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about the new framework document for forestry policy. [21322]

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

The framework document for the new Forest Enterprise Agency was published yesterday. There has been no change in forestry policy.

Photo of Mr Tom Arnold Mr Tom Arnold , Hazel Grove

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the removal of tax reliefs and their replacement by a variety of grants has had the beneficial effect of removing the stigma of a tax haven and encouraged the implementation of new planting techniques?

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The intention of the package of incentives introduced in 1994 was to raise planting levels across the board, to increase the potential timber quality of broad-leafed woodlands and to help to improve the environmental and recreational value of forests. The total area of woodland planted last year, including restocking, was more than 33,000 hectares, so I believe that we are moving in the right direction.

Photo of Mr David Steel Mr David Steel , Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale

Is the Minister aware that some of us are concerned about the gap that seems to be growing between the Government's declared policy in relation to the sale of forestry land and practice on the ground? Can he say what proportion of sales are going through without the public access agreements to which the Government are supposed to be committed?

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

Every effort is made to secure access agreements, which guarantee access for the public on foot. Following the forestry review, the Forestry Commission has encouraged local authorities to respond positively when offered access agreements; it has allowed them more time to consider the agreements and has offered to meet their reasonable legal costs.