Investment to Forestry and Land Scotland Newton Nursery: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

1. Whether a cost-benefit analysis was carried out before granting the £20m investment to FLS Newton, Moray;

2. What the objectives are for the investment in number of plants, jobs created or secured;

3. Whether alternative arrangements were considered, for example, a government partnership with the private sector with mixed public/private funding;

4. Whether controls on the project progression are established and which directorate and ministers will be responsible for them.


1. A strategic outline case has been prepared for this potential investment but a final investment decision will only be made following the development of a full business case. This will reflect options for delivery and cost-benefit evaluation of these options to determine the implications on expenditure and use of resources. Professional economists are contributing to the development of the business case alongside other specialist staff.

The business case process being followed is set out in the Scottish Public Finance Manual guidance for major investment projects:

The format of business case that is being prepared is specifically the HM Treasury guidance on how to appraise and evaluate policies, projects and programmes:

2. The objective in relation to the number of plants is to improve surety of plant supply for Forestry and Land Scotland's annual 25 million tree planting programme. Market research undertaken as part of the full business case process will enable options to be tested around the balance of supply between internal nursery production and open market purchases.

In terms of jobs secured and created the objective is to secure the jobs of approximately 30 staff. Depending on decisions made as part of the business case process the number of jobs at the site may increase if production is increased. The current nursery infrastructure last received investment in the 1970’s and requires upgrading to enable this highly productive land near Elgin to continue to be used and existing staff to be provided with a safe and fit for purpose working environment.

3. Various options are currently under consideration as part of the full business case process with market engagement work currently underway. This includes discussion with enterprise agencies on possible models and opportunities.

4. The project is subject to the gateway review process managed by the Scottish Government’s Programme and Project Management Centre of Expertise (PPM-CoE). The gateway review team includes an expert in construction project management external to the public sector to provide further challenge and advice. Further detail on this process is published online.

Forestry and Land Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government and is responsible for the development of the business case and any subsequent project. Simon Hodgson as Chief Executive is accountable to Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament, for the effective and efficient operation of the agency and he reports to the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Tourism, Fergus Ewing MSP.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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