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Union Welcomes First Step Towards Farming-Forestry Balance

Union proposes farmer advisory group to assess planting proposals

NFU Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement that it has accepted all 24 recommendations of the Woodland Expansion Advisory Group (WEAG).

WEAG’s report and recommendations, which were published at the Royal Highland Show this year, advocate proactive planning controls to account for different land-uses, including agriculture, to be used when deciding where to plant trees. NFUS recently wrote to the Scottish Government to urge them to commit to WEAG’s recommendations.

NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy and the Regions, Jonnie Hall, who sat on the WEAG said:

“The adoption of the WEAG report is a significant step with important principles, notably the presumption against whole-farm planting and the protection of a critical mass of farmland and the better land classes, which will allow a viable future for the extensive and moorland areas in Scotland’s LFA.

“In addition to protecting our scarce prime agricultural land and our peat resources, future planting must also account for existing areas of significant tree cover. That means putting in place procedures to ensure Scotland’s productive agricultural land is not the first call for woodland expansion.

“This middle ground is critical to a host of farming businesses and its value to Scotland must lie at the heart of all tree planting in the future.

“It follows that the recommendations will mean nothing without proactive catchment-level and regional planning processes. Until those structures are in place and links into local communities are established, current consents and acquisitions should be put on hold.

“In our recent letter to the Scottish Government, NFU Scotland made it clear that the responses to planting of whole units in the borders and the proposed planting at Corniehaugh, highlight farming and wider community fears about such dramatic changes in land-use and landscape.

“NFU Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to create a review group – including farmers to determine whether and where planting should take place on existing agricultural holdings. If farmland is to be forested, such a group should identify where farming resources should be maintained.

“NFU Scotland will watch developments closely in order to ensure that the WEAG’s recommendations are upheld.”

Ends

Contact Sarah Anderson on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 112/12


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