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Information from the successful Scottish Save Our Forests
The Labour Rural Affairs and Environment team at the Scottish Parliament are working to address mounting concerns over Scottish Government proposals to lease 25 percent of the forest estate for 75 years, reportedly to foreign investors.
Following the publication of the Consultation on ‘Forestry Provisions in the Scottish Climate Change Bill’ (see document ) there have been fears that Forestry Commission jobs and services would be adversely affected by ‘privatising’ the most lucrative chunks of Scotland’s forest estates.
Labour’s Rural Affairs and Environment spokesperson Sarah Boyack believes the move will endanger the viability of the Forestry Commission and is urging everyone to tell Minister for the Environment Mike Russell that Scotland is not for sale.
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"The Minister for Environment, Michael
Russell, was wrong to dismiss as "rubbish" the concerns expressed last week over
the Scottish Government’s consultation. Forestry workers are rightly very
anxious about what these proposals might mean in terms of their jobs and
Sarah Boyack, Labour’s Rural Affairs and Environment spokesperson
"It is difficult to see how the role of the Forestry Commission could remain viable with its most lucrative forests removed from its control.
"At a time when community involvement in forestry is gaining ground it seems ludicrous to pass control to other organisations who are looking to profit from our forests and who will not have a social remit to work with our communities."
Rhoda Grant, rural development spokesperson
"The many recreational forest users including walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders will be alarmed at the proposals.
"The SNP government states that its proposals could bring in as much as £200m.
"However if total control of these forests is passed over to the private sector, this could be early cash at the expense of future years' income as timber in these forests is sold by the private investor instead of the government.
"The government would, over the period of the lease, also lose out on any income from leisure and tourism."
Elaine Murray, Labour's Environment spokesperson.