Felling and restocking regulations: strategic environmental assessment

Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) to accompany the consultation on the regulation of felling and restocking in 2018.

Appendix E: Analysis of Consultation Authorities responses to the Scoping Report

Section of Scoping Report

Consultation Authority Comments on the Scoping Report

Scottish Government Response

Consultation Authority - HES

Scope and level of detail

On the basis of the information provided, we are content with this approach proposed for the assessment. However, we have provided some comments on the scope and level of detail of the assessment in the attached annex.

We note that the historic environment has been scoped in.


Consultation period for the Environmental Report

We note the information provided on consultation and next steps. However, it would be beneficial if the timescales for consultation on the Environmental Report could be confirmed.

Please note that, for administrative purposes, we consider that the consultation period commences on receipt of the relevant documents by the SEA Gateway.

The Consultation Authorities have been notified via the SEA Gateway on 9 th August 2018 that the consultation period will be 8 weeks.

Approach to the assessment

We welcome the inclusion of cultural heritage within the scope of the assessment. However, we note the reasons for inclusion set out in Table 2 (proposed scoping in/out of SEA topics). We consider that the focus of likely impacts on the historic environment as relating primarily to impacts on ancient and semi-natural woodlands as being too narrow. We note that setting is referred to as a possible secondary impact to the historic environment under the landscape category. However, both the felling and restocking of trees have the potential to have a direct impact on the historic environment.

Tree felling and restocking operations have the potential to have a direct impact on archaeology through disturbance and to create further disturbance through bioturbation by tree roots. Impacts on setting should be considered as direct due to the potential for effects on the cultural significance of archaeological sites. We recommend that the assessment of effects takes a broader approach to considering impacts on archaeology.

Noted. Potential effects have been considered accordingly within this Environmental Report.

Proposed approach to the assessment

We note the proposed objectives and assessment questions. We recommend that the assessment questions are broadened to include provision for potential effects on both site and setting of archaeological sites and monuments.

Noted. Consideration of these issues has been included in the assessment but the assessment methodology has been changed to reflect the nature of the proposals.

Policy context and proposed environmental baseline

We note the policy context for cultural heritage as set out in paragraphs 4.3.14 – 17. We note the reference to Scottish Planning Policy ( SPP) in paragraph 4.3.16. SPP makes provision for designated archaeological sites which it states should be preserved in situ and in appropriate setting. We would highlight that Scottish Ministers' policy for scheduled monuments as set out in paragraph 145 of SPP attaches equal weight to impacts in both site and setting and it is important that the assessment reflects this.

We would also highlight that SPP also makes provision for non-designated archaeological sites (paragraph 150) which it recommends are preserved in situ where feasible.

Noted and accounted for within the assessment.

Initial environmental baseline

We recommend that Historic Environment Scotland's data is added to the list of information sources for the environmental baseline which appears on page 27 of the Scoping Report.

We note the proposed baseline as set out in Figure 2 ( Proposed Baseline). We recommend that the baseline gathered for the assessment reflects the policy context for the historic environment and takes into account the advice on the approach to the assessment as discussed above.

The Scoping Report will not be updated but HES data has been used in the baseline of the Environmental Report.

Consultation Authority - SEPA

General comments

We note that the scope of the assessment will be focussed on the proposal to make changes to volume exemptions for ancient and semi-natural woodlands. We are content with this approach as we recognise that it is a proportionate approach, focussing on the elements of the proposal which are deemed to have the potential to lead to significant environmental effects. We note, and welcome, that the remaining elements of the proposed changes will be brought into the assessment for consideration of cumulative effects.


Scoping of SEA topics

We note that in terms of our interests the SEA topics of biodiversity, soil and water have been scoped into the assessment ( Table 2). We would however recommend widening the scope of the assessment to consider the following issues:

Climatic factors

  • We infer from the Scoping Report that there will be a presumption to restock and we are therefore particularly concerned that it is proposed to scope climatic factors out of the assessment. We would recommend that climatic factors is included in order to pick up issues associated with peat, acidification from sea-salt events and, risks from changes in distribution of invasive species / pathogens.
  • We would also highlight the note in Table 2 that trees and soil are intricately linked on the issues of soil condition and stability. Any impacts on soil condition and stability could also have impacts on transfer of greenhouse gases ( GHG), hence we would recommend including consideration of climatic factors in the assessment.
  • You may also wish to give consideration to energy requirements associated with felling, restocking, haulage, and waste management activities, including the application of low carbon technologies.

Material assets

  • Infrastructure is an essential element of forestry activity. We would therefore recommend that you give consideration as to whether the proposals may result in significant effects on infrastructure elements such as forestry tracks, haulage routes, management of machinery (including transport) and oil storage.
  • We would also recommend that consideration of waste issues is included in the assessment. This should examine elements such as felling waste and management of brash; the potential cumulative impacts of waste are also likely to be particularly important.

Climatic factors and material assets have been scoped into the assessment based on SEPA's advice to assess any possible effects. However, sea salt events, invasive species, energy requirements, forestry infrastructure and waste are considered to be beyond the remit of the proposal.

In terms of restocking locations (peat) and waste associated with felling and restocking, conditions are set on a case by case basis. Guidance is provided by the regulator on a case by case basis and also operators should rely on the UKFS to some extent – but that is also likely to form part of the specific conditions in any case.

Proposed methodology

Our comments on the proposed methodology reflect our recommendations above on expanding the scope of the assessment. We would recommend the following amendments / additions to the proposed methodology as set out in Table 3 (Proposed methodology: SEA objectives and assessment questions):


  • All soils should be protected bearing in mind the impact of a degraded soil on issues such as water quality, flood risk and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The proposed assessment questions should include reference to (i) protecting carbon stores and improving resilience to climate change through the protection and enhancement of soils, (ii) protecting and enhancing soil quality and the wider environment by reducing erosion and compaction, (iii) protecting and enhancing soils to act as a buffer to protect water against pollution, and (iv) protecting soil functionality.
  • A specific question on peat and peatland restoration should be included to address issues around restocking in areas of deep peat.


  • The water objective should be amended to "Protect and improve the water environment". This is the statutory objective in the Water Framework Directive.

Climatic factors

  • An objective should be framed around the reduction of existing and the avoidance of new GHG emissions.
  • The assessment questions should include reference to (i) the avoidance of disturbance of carbon rich soils, (ii) the promotion of restoration opportunities for peatlands, and (iii) the potential for low carbon technology to support felling, restocking, haulage and waste management activities.

Material assets

  • An objective should be framed around the sustainable use and management of material assets.
  • The assessment questions should include reference to (i) sustainable use and management of existing infrastructure e.g. forestry roads, haulage routes and machinery, and (ii) creation and management of felling waste and brash.

The assessment has considered these recommendations where they are of relevance to the proposals.

Mitigation and monitoring proposals

We note that mitigation proposals are largely set within the context of existing standards and environmental Regulation. We would highlight the importance of considering the potential for multiple unregulated activities ( e.g. those at too small a scale individually to fall within existing Regulations) to cumulatively result in effects of a significant nature. We would welcome this issue to be addressed in the ER.

This is considered to be outwith the scope of the proposed Regulations.

Reasonable alternatives

We note that as yet no reasonable alternatives have been developed. We would be pleased to provide input to the development of alternatives as you progress with the assessment.

SEPA have been invited to comment on the proposals via their representatives on the Regional Forestry Forums

Environmental baseline

We would highlight the following points for your information and / or clarification with regard to Figure 2 ( Proposed Baseline):

Noted. The Scoping Report will not be updated but relevant information has been included in the baseline within this Environmental Report.

Consultation Authority - SNH

Approach to the assessment

I'm responding on behalf of Scottish Natural Heritage to let you know that we are satisfied with the Scoping approach to the assessment of the Regulations on Felling and Restocking, and don't require any further changes.


Policy Content

While the actual assessment is still to be made, it's perhaps worth noting that while we are generally happy with the proposed changes, an aspect that does need further clarity is around diseased trees. Every tree disease is different, and we would caution against a blanket approach to 'diseased trees', perhaps focussing more on the felling of trees that are either a) dangerous, or b) necessary to fell in order to control the spread of that specific disease.

The Scottish Government are maintaining the exemption for Dutch Elm. The Scottish Government agree that there are many questions around diseased trees and that extending the exemption would require careful consideration although we have had no representations so far to extend it to any other disease.


Email: FutureForestry@gov.scot

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