1.1 This report presents an analysis of responses to the Scottish Government’s public consultation on the regulation of felling and restocking.
1.2 The consultation ran for eight weeks. Questions focused on the following six considerations:
- Exemptions on the requirement to have a permission to fell; situations or types of felling for which permission from the regulator is not required.
- Applications, issuing permissions and compensation; including processes, conditions and eligibility.
- Felling directions; cases in which Scottish Ministers can require owners to fell trees.
- Appeals; the process for challenging a decision made by Scottish Ministers.
- Compliance; matters related to remedial notices, restocking directions and compensation for temporary stop notices.
- Impact assessments; consideration of any adverse effects the proposals may have in relation to commercial activity, children, data protection, groups with protected characteristics, inequalities and the environment in Scotland.
1.3 The Lines Between was commissioned to independently, accurately and comprehensively undertake and report on the analysis of consultation responses.
1.4 In August 2018 The Scottish Government launched a national consultation on the regulation of felling and restocking. This was to inform the secondary legislation required to implement the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018 (‘the 2018 Act’). The 2018 Act controls felling and restocking, based on an offence of unauthorised felling. Any felling of trees in Scotland must be carried out in accordance with a permission or direction from the regulator, or in a way that has been made exempt from requiring permission.
1.5 Forestry is currently regulated in Scotland by the Forestry Commissioners, according to rules set out in the Forestry Act 1967 (‘the 1967 Act’) and the Forestry (Exceptions from Restriction of Felling) Regulations 1979 (‘the 1979 Regulations’). The consultation acknowledged that the Scottish Government intends to ‘remain as close as possible to the current position and make changes only where they will make the processes more transparent, simpler or reduce the potential for inappropriate deforestation’.
1.6 The finalised proposals, informed by analysis of consultation responses, will be laid in Parliament early next year and come into force on 1st April 2019.
1.7 When the 2018 Act comes into force, forestry functions in Scotland will become the responsibility of the Scottish Ministers and two new agencies of the Scottish Government will be created to discharge those functions.
- Scottish Forestry will cover forestry policy, regulatory, support and grant giving functions.
- Forestry and Land Scotland will have responsibility for the management of the current National Forest Estate, with flexibility to take on management of other peoples’ land, by agreement.
Profile of participants and consultation response rate
1.8 The consultation achieved 37 responses from 18 individuals and 19 organisations.
1.9 Participants provided responses to the consultation through the online platform Citizen Space (23 responses) or by emailing their responses to the Scottish Government (14 responses). They were asked to submit a Respondent Information Form (RIF) to establish their identity, contact details and publication preferences. The profile of the 19 organisations that took part is as follows:
- 3 Non-Departmental Government Bodies: Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
- 4 businesses: Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), SSE Generation Ltd., Castle Milk and Corrie Estates, and Scottish Woodlands Ltd.
- 4 environmental bodies and campaign groups: Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT), Woodland Trust Scotland, Galloway Fisheries Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB Scotland).
- 5 membership associations or representative bodies: Confederation of Forest Industries (Confor), DWP Harvesting Ltd, Fisheries Management Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates and South Scotland Regional Forestry Forum.
- 3 local authorities: West Lothian Council, Aberdeenshire Council and Stirling Council.
1.10 As with any consultation exercise, both the organisations and most of the individuals who participated in the consultation demonstrated a practical knowledge of and interest in forestry in their responses. While their responses offer informed and detailed comments on the proposals, the views expressed may not be necessarily be seen as representative of wider public opinion.
Analysis and reporting
1.11 The Lines Between developed a coding framework based on a review of the consultation questions and themes that became evident during the analysis process. Qualitative data (responses to open questions) was coded manually, according to specific themes; quantitative data was analysed with Excel. This analysis process enabled the research team to highlight and group key messages that emerged from the responses
1.12 While qualitative analysis of open-ended questions does not permit the quantification of results, we signify the weight of particular views using the following framework:
- Many/several - a recurring theme.
- Some/a few - a minor theme.
- One - issue raised by one respondent.
1.13 This report presents the range of views expressed and trends amongst responses. During analysis it became evident that a few participants repeated aspects of their responses across questions. In some cases, parts of a response aligned more closely with another question in the consultation document. To avoid repetition, the analysis is presented under the most appropriate thematic heading.
1.14 Where appropriate, quotes have been included to illustrate key points. Quotes provide useful examples, insights and contextual information, but may not always represent the views of entire groups, such as entire industries, sectors, or geographic areas of Scotland. Where participants gave permission for their responses to be published we have quoted directly, however minor spelling or grammatical errors have been corrected to improve readability.
1.15 The Lines Between was commissioned ‘to produce a clear and concise report for publication, that reflects a robust analysis of the responses’. This report presents the findings of the consultation analysis.
- Chapter 2 presents a quantitative overview of responses to the consultation.
- Chapter 3 sets out analysis of responses to the proposed exemptions on the requirement to have a permission to fell.
- Chapter 4 presents analysis of responses to the proposals for applications, issuing permissions and compensation.
- Chapter 5 presents analysis of responses to the proposals for felling directions.
- Chapter 6 sets out analysis of responses to the proposals for appeals.
- Chapter 7 presents analysis of responses to the proposals for compliance.
- Chapter 8 presents analysis of responses to the impact assessments.
- The final chapter contains conclusions and reflections for the Scottish Government to consider when developing the final proposals for felling and restocking.
Email: Katherine Pauling