Tuesday, 26 October 2010

'Wur Scottish forests are not for sale

Does the coalition government really know what it's doing?

Caroline Spelman's plan to sell off half the Forestry Commission's 748,000ha of land as a contribution to Chancellor George Osborne’s attempt to cut public spending by £81bn runs into one small problem - about 443,000 of the hectares are in Scotland and not under her control.

The Foresrty Commission's English estate totals only 258,000ha, with an estimated value of £697m, of which just over 200,000ha is woodland. The commercial forests, the sitka spruce and the like, is alsmost all in Scotland.

The Scottish Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham dismissed the Spelman claim all Britain's national forests as "very unhelpful and totally misleading".

She said: "Decisions affecting the future of Scotland's national forests do not lie with Westminster but with Scottish Ministers. There is no review of Forestry Commission Scotland.

"The Scottish Government is committed to forestry in Scotland. We believe Scotland's national forests are a very precious asset. They provide employment, support the timber and tourism industries and have a major role to play in tackling climate change.

"There is an on-going review of the functions and operations of the Forestry Commission in England but I want to make it clear that this review does not and cannot extend to Scotland."

Ms Spelman is losing around 30 per cent of her £2.9bn departmental budget by 2015. She'll have to find her savings elsewhere.

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