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Stage 1 report on Forestry and Land Management Bill

The Rural Economy Committee has published its Stage 1 report following its initially scrutiny of the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill.  The full report can be read in full at here...

In brief the report covers the following -
Disbanding FCS – the REC Committee have not gone as far as saying this shouldn’t occur but have ask SG to consider the concerns raised by stakeholders and give assurances on how these concerns will be addressed, as it moves the functions of FCS into Government. The Committee suggests consideration be given to the creation of the “chief forester” role.
The report picks up on points SL&E raised in our evidence regarding the need for reasonably regular reviews of the Forestry Strategy, on the critical nature of cross-border co-operation on research and plant health, and on the need for the strategy to take account of and be properly integrated with other objectives for land.

In terms of definitions for sustainable forest management and sustainable development, it suggest these should sit in the Forestry Strategy rather than on the face of the Bill.  It also calls for clarity on when Forestry and Land Scotland (the new agency) will manage for one or the other purpose.

On compulsory purchase, the report reflects Scottish Land & Estates line which is very welcome.  That is, carrying over the CPO powers from the ’67 Act for sustainable forest management purposes is liveable with as long as it is truly a backstop measure, but the case has not been made to extend these powers to include CPO for sustainable development purposes.  It calls for amendment or removal of the power for sustainable development.

On the definition of community bodies, the Committee’s report also reflects our line and calls for the Government to reconsider the definition give in the Bill in light of the Community Empowerment Act definition.

With regard to felling the report again reflects concerns Scottish Land & Estates raised.  The report calls for a more appropriate definition of felling, in terms of felling directions it welcomes Government’s commitment to consult stakeholders on the development of the regulation (the Bill Team have started this process and have already held one meeting) and for these to be approved through affirmative procedures.

In terms of registration of notices to comply (proposed to sit with Registers of Scotland) it asks the Government to ensure any process is proportionate.
There will be a Stage 1 debate in the Scottish Parliament in early November, with Stage 2 scrutiny likely to start soon afterwards.


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