Following the recommendations from the Woodland Expansion Advisory Group, the Scottish Government undertook to produce practical guidance that would inform decision making about woodland creation on agricultural land and this week, after consultation with both the farming and forestry sectors, published the guidance.
The guidance is for Conservancy staff who will use it to help assess woodland creation proposals.
When considering ‘larger or more sensitive’ woodland creation proposals on farmland Conservancy staff will now take the following measures. They will:
advise applicants to inform those managing neighbouring land (i.e. contiguous with the proposed planting) of their intentions, as part of the scoping process while developing their proposals, and to inform Conservancy staff of any issues arising from this liaison;
- ask the applicant for the addresses of those managing this neighbouring land so that they can be told about the proposal when it is placed on the public register, as part of the normal consultation process;
- in cases of whole farm planting, ask the applicant to explain how they have considered opportunities for integration with other land uses, in accordance with WEAG recommendation 11 (for example by retaining better of grades of land in agricultural use, and by designing unplanted areas and fencing in ways that accommodate neighbouring farming systems, moorland management and environmental considerations);
- notify the local RPID office of the proposal, requesting advice on whether it is likely to have a serious adverse impact on local patterns of agriculture, taking into account previous farming practice on the land. Such advice will be made available to applicants.