Progress on reviewing forestry planting approval procedures
Progress on the review of forestry planting approval procedures, in response to the analysis of current arrangements and delivery plan subsequently developed, includes an updated review of progress submitted by Jim Mackinnon CBE in May 2017 and key achievements reported in June 2017.
Analysis of Current Arrangements for the Consideration and Approval of Forestry Planting Proposals
Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity asked Jim Mackinnon CBE to provide an analysis of the current arrangements for the consideration and approval of forestry planting proposals and to make recommendations for improvements to the process. The review is part of a broader package of reforms to drive forward forestry’s contribution to the rural economy and to support delivery of climate change targets.
The report made a number of recommendations, including:
- Streamlining the process to approve sustainable planting schemes, for example by appointing accredited, experienced agents to help certify some woodland planting schemes and by giving FCS local offices more responsibility to approve lower value applications
- Earlier engagement between tree-planting businesses and communities, in a way that is proportionate to the scale and impact of the planting scheme
- A dedicated national Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) team to deal with complex proposals including all projects where an Environmental Impact Assessment is required
A report highlighting ways to increase the number of trees planted across Scotland was published on 14 December 2016. The Cabinet Secretary accepted all of the recommendations in principle.
Delivery Plan for improving the Consideration and Approval of Forestry Planting Proposals
A plan to streamline the tree planting process in Scotland was announced on 10 February 2017 by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing. The delivery plan contains a package of measures to drive forward and speed up the tree planting process, including:
- Speeding up processes for woodland creation applications and for grant approvals by revising existing processes and guidance. New initiatives include developing a scheme to appoint accredited, experienced agents to help certify some woodland planting schemes;
- Improving promotional material and training for staff to improve the delivery of information and training;
- Reviewing criteria and establishing a specialist team to deal with complex proposals and;
- Working with interested local authorities to explore the potential for a large scale, multi-owner woodland creation project.
A delivery group, comprising key stakeholders and advisers is providing external expertise and advice on the implementation of the proposals, and helping to ensure that the actions deliver the desired outcomes.