29 January 2009


Labour has denied Mike Russell's 'scaremongering' claims over the SNP's plans to privatise Scotland's forest estate.

Sarah Boyack, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Environment, said:

"Mike Russell says there will be no loss of jobs, no loss of biodiversity, no loss of access, but he cannot guarantee any of this.

"The fact is this, unless this ridiculous idea is dumped from the Climate Change Bill, the Minister will have the power to lease off as much of the forest estate as he wants to a private company for 75 years, which is as good as selling it off.

"Mike Russell has ignored the warnings from trade unions and the timber industry over the impact on jobs.

"The Minister wrongly claimed there had been job cuts in the Forestry Commission under Labour. Figures show that since the Forestry Commission Scotland was created in April 2003 the number of staff rose from 1,037 to 1,050.

"The sums don't add up. The Forestry Commission would bring in a far greater sum of money over a 75 year period than the proposed leasing arrangement.

"This is a bad deal for Scotland and the SNP must scrap the plans.  There are much better ways to support considered expansion of our forests and developing renewables ventures which would generate income."


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