Minutes of 19 January 2011 - Central Scotland Regional Forestry Forum

Present:
Simon Rennie, Chair
Guy Wedderburn
Steve Luker
Nigel Hooper
Stephen Garvin
Tim Hall
Grahame Buchan
Guy Watt
Karen Moore
Ian Whitehead
Sue Hilder
Robin Edgar
Linda McKay (Secretary)

Keith Wishart, FC Scotland
Hugh Clayden, FC Scotland
Virginia Harden, FCS Biomass Development Officer

Apologies:
Chris Norman
Meriel Young

INTRODUCTIONS AND APOLOGIES

  1. Simon Rennie welcomed everyone to the meeting. Simon introduced Sue Hilder and Ian Whitehead and explained that both of them had accepted an invitation to join the Forum.
  2. Sue and Ian then gave a brief résumé of their background and work to date.
  3. Simon added that Robin Edgar had also agreed to become a member of the Forum and that Robin would be joining the meeting shortly but had been delayed.
  4. Apologies were received from Meriel Young and Chris Norman.
  5. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING
  6. The minutes of the previous meeting on 14 June 2010 were accepted as an accurate record with no amendments.
  7. MATTERS ARISING
  8. Paragraph 23. Simon Rennie said that, following receipt of much feedback from the draft consultation exercise, the CSGN prospectus document was being finalised and would go to the CSGN Management Board as the definitive reference of how the Green Network will look.
  9. Paragraph 34. Stephen Garvin agreed to look once again at this action and respond at the next meeting.
  10. Stephen thought there could possibly be a co-ordinated action between Goal number 1 in the CSGN Prospectus and the Scottish Government through the Building Standard Regulations. Stephen said he would discuss this with colleagues to find out if there was any similarity in their current range of tools for sustainable homes.
    ACTION: SG
  11. Paragraph 65. Keith confirmed that a response had been sent direct to Tim Hall.
  12. Keith provided copies of both the FCS briefing note and recent press release which invited landowners and managers to apply for additional funding to help create more productive woodland.
  13. He explained that woodland creation proposals within Central Scotland could now benefit from up to 90% grant support.
  14. Tim Hall asked for an update on the timing of the introduction of the CSGN planting model as he thought that many landowners will not go ahead with planting proposals in the planting season 11/12 if the model is likely to be introduced in the near future.
  15. Keith stated that as this new model remained subject to EC approval, it was not possible to guarantee that it would be available for the 2011/12 planting season. Keith said that he would check with the Grants & Regulation team and contact Tim direct. ACTION: KW
  16. Simon Rennie said he appreciated that this matter was outside Keith’s control and agreed to write to Bob McIntosh, Director Scotland on behalf of the Forum and express their concerns on the negative impact this delay will have on woodland creation.
    ACTION: SR
  17. Paragraph 78 & 81. Items will be discussed under meeting agenda item 8.0.
  18. LOTHIANS & FIFE GREEN NETWORK PARTNERSHIP PRESENTATION
  19. an Whitehead explained that the Lothian and Fife Green Network Partnership had evolved from the Edinburgh and Lothian’s Forest Habitat Network Partnership and now included Fife Council and Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, together with various others, as partners.
  20. Ian provided a presentation which explained the vision of the partnership and the multiple benefits that green networks could deliver for the people of Lothians and Fife.
  21. Ian discussed a number of projects, such as the North Esk Valley Woodland Management plan, Pentlands Hills Woodland Action plan and the Millennium Woods project and described the LFGNP involvement and objectives for each one.
  22. Simon Rennie thanked Ian for his presentation. He said that the Edinburgh & Lothians Forest Habitat Network Partnership, from which LFGNP had evolved, had been set up over 2 years ago and, as the world had since changed considerably, he asked Ian how the original priorities might fit in the future.
  23. Ian replied that a lot of energy and time had been put in to speaking to individual landowners & stakeholders to ensure local people are actively involved in the development of the network process. He pointed out that the partnership enjoyed strong support from its partners and that it continued to evolve in response to partners’ ambitions and the development of the CSGN. LFGNP was in his view leading the development of the CSGN in the East of Scotland. He also mentioned that the Partnership were leading on the development of a Forestry & Woodland Strategy for Edinburgh & the Lothians.
  24. Keith Wishart said that the development of new forest strategies provides an excellent opportunity to explore the extent to which a Region might be able to contribute towards the Governments woodland creation targets.
  25. Virginia Harden joined the meeting at this point.
  26. BIOMASS DEVELOPMENTS IN CENTRAL SCOTLAND
  27. Virginia Harden explained the role of the Biomass Development team and gave a presentation which provided an update on current policy developments, funding schemes and both FC and non FC funded projects within Central Scotland.
  28. Nigel Hooper referred to the proposed National targets for reduction in carbon and asked where we were now. Virginia replied that there was still a considerable amount of work to be done but hoped the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme would help address this.
  29. A discussion followed and Guy Watt said he thought that the development of small scale boilers would be based on incentives and subsidies as the large capital costs would not justify personal investment.
  30. Stephen Garvin said there may be potential for the CSGN to address the gap in knowledge as to the source of future woodfuel required by new installations.
  31. Grahame Buchan said that if the forthcoming Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme had an effect on the domestic market this could potentially impact significantly on the existing wood supply and result in massive imports being required.
  32. Ian Whitehead said he was aware that the City of Edinburgh had opted not to install biomass in schools due to concerns around boiler emissions etc. Virginia replied that a study had been commissioned to look at the barriers to wood energy development within Scottish Councils and that work was now ongoing to discuss and overcome any issues.
  33. Guy Watt suggested that better communication with farmers was required as the feedback he had received with regards to Short Rotation Coppice was quite negative.
  34. SFS IMPLEMENTATION PLAN – UPDATE AND ACTIONS FOR 2011/12
  35. Keith explained that the Scottish Forestry Strategy was also accompanied by an implementation plan and that it falls to the Regional Forestry Forum to develop a list of actions to be included within the Plan on an annual basis.
  36. Keith said he was looking for help in identifying any potential projects which the Forum could focus on. He added that it is useful to have these projects incorporated in the plan as FC funding can then be sought to take work forward.
  37. Keith received a number of suggestions from the Forum members and said he would note any ideas discussed at the meeting. He gave members the opportunity to provide further feedback by e-mail and asked for any suggestions to be sent to him by mid February at the latest. Keith will then integrate details to the plan and provide the Forum with a final version by the end of February.
    ACTION; FORUM MEMBERS/KW

    MONITORING LOSS OF TOTAL FOREST AREA AND PRODUCTIVE FOREST AREA
  38. Hugh Clayden provided a very informative presentation which described the historical facts on Scotland’s Woodland resource and he discussed the main causes of woodland removal.
  39. Hugh explained that the collation of data was required and that Inventory, Forecasting and Operational Support (IFOS) would be reviewing FC mechanisms for monitoring forest areas and retaining data on afforestation and deforestation. The team would then look at the data on our previous National inventory and make comparisons and explore differences.
  40. A discussion then took place within the group.
  41. Nigel Hooper said that whilst we sought to increase woodland cover, areas of grazing would be lost and many changes to the landscape would have occurred therefore in terms of national targets how could we pick this up.
  42. Hugh said that this would not be easy and would only become clearer as data was collected.
  43. Keith Wishart said that many large windfarm developments in the Region had resulted in several thousand hectares of woodland being removed, including over 1600 Ha associated with the Clyde windfarm alone. However the introduction of the woodland removal policy would significantly reduce the level of woodland removal associated with any new developments.
  44. Guy Watt asked if we shouldn’t be insisting that companies keep tree cover maintained and ensure that they replant within the Central Scotland area.
  45. Hugh replied that the statutory guidance is strong however wind farm applications are not always put through planning and are often approved under the electricity act. Compensatory planting could be offered in locations remote from the initial development.
  46. Hugh suggested there was an opportunity to encourage planning authorities to focus any compensatory planting is specific regions, for example within the area bounded by the CSGN.
  47. Simon thanked Hugh on behalf of the Forum for his presentation which had raised many issues.
  48. FORUM MEMBERSHIP
  49. Simon Rennie explained that by co-opting 3 new members the Forum was now at full complement.

    ANY OTHER COMPETENT BUSINESS
  50. Keith referred to the RFF meetings programme for 2011 and asked if the Forum were happy with the proposed agenda items, speakers etc. He also asked for any suggestions or alternative topics/issues which the group might like covered at our meetings.
    ACTION: FORUM MEMBERS
  51. Simon Rennie asked the Forum members to have a look at their biographies and update these if necessary. Any amendments should be sent to Linda McKay.
    ACTION: FORUM MEMBERS

    DATE OF NEXT MEETING
  52. Simon said that Linda McKay would send out details of the proposed dates for the Summer and Autumn meetings and confirmation of dates and venues would then follow.
    ACTION: LMCK
  53. Simon thanked everyone for their attendance and participation and closed the meeting.