Statutory Plant Health Notices for Phytophthora ramorum: EIR release

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Information requested

  1. What is Scottish Forestry’s Phytophthora ramorum policy review process and what is the current status of this process?
  2. In Annex 2 of the SPHN document [Biosecurity on sites served with a Statutory Plant Health Notice for Phytophthora ramorum on larch], it says a key rationale for the policy is: 'to minimise financial losses by keeping within the capacity of the forest industry to harvest larch timber'. Is there a cost-benefit analysis of the current UK/Scottish Government Phytophthora ramorum policy which looks at these financial losses?
  3. Can you provide details on how to appeal against an SPHN once it has been received by the landowner and the appeals process?

As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.



Phytophthora ramorum is a controlled plant pest in GB and landowners have a legal obligation to control its spread and Scottish Ministers are required to enforce this obligation. Official controls include the use of Statutory Plant Health Notices (SPHNs) requiring the felling of infected larch by landowners by a specified date.

Scottish Forestry’s Phytophthora ramorum policy is laid out in the Phytophthora ramorum on larch Action Plan. This is subject to annual review by a working group led by Scottish Forestry and including representatives from the Scottish Tree Health Advisory Group (STHAG), including representatives from CONFOR, private sector managers, Forestry and Land Scotland, Forest Research and SASA. The most recent review took place in June/July 2022, and the next review is due to take place in June/July 2023.


The Forestry Commission carried out a cost-benefit analysis of Phytophthora ramorum infection management conducted between 2010 and 2017 across Great Britain. The research was undertaken in 2019 using Forestry Commission, APHA, and Scottish Government data. The economic benefits of controlling Phytophthora ramorum outbreaks infecting larch using Statutory Plant Health Notices and mandated sanitary felling outweighed the costs of control by 3:1.


Should landowners be aggrieved at a decision to issue a SPHN, initially a representation may be made to Scottish Forestry, or through our complaints procedure. Full details of Scottish Forestry’s published complaint handling procedure can be found here:

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