Minutes of 17 June 2011 - Central Scotland Regional Forestry Forum

Present:
Simon Rennie, Chair
Guy Wedderburn
Steve Luker
Nigel Hooper
Stephen Garvin
Tim Hall
Chris Norman
Meriel Young
Grahame Buchan
Guy Watt
Sue Hilder
Linda McKay (Secretary)
Keith Wishart, FC Scotland
Dr Bob McIntosh, Director Scotland
Bob Frost, Community Development Policy Advisor
Bob Stubbs, Consultancy Services
Hugh Clayden, Sustainable Forest Management Policy Adviser
Steven Orr, Land Use Consultants

Apologies:
Robin Edgar
Karen Moore

INTRODUCTIONS AND APOLOGIES

  1. Simon Rennie welcomed everyone to the meeting. Simon introduced Bob McIntosh and Bob Stubbs, both of whom would be covering agenda items during the meeting.
  2. Simon explained that Hugh Clayden, Bob Frost and Steven Orr would be joining the Forum later to cover agenda items 6.0, 7.0 and 8.0 respectively.
  3. Apologies were received from Robin Edgar and Karen Moore
  4. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING
  5. The minutes of the previous meeting on 19 January 2011 were accepted as an accurate record with no amendments.
  6. MATTERS ARISING
  7. Para 6. Stephen Garvin said that the new building regulations, which came into effect in May 2011, did not specifically cover sustainability standards in relation to developments being constructed within 300 metres of greenspace areas.
  8. Stephen confirmed that there were no available credits within BREEAM for amenities, recreation etc however the standards relating to Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems might be relevant.

    7. Keith agreed that the Scottish Governments policy area did not seem to be fully joined up with Sustainability standards and BREEAM and suggested that it might be worthwhile to discuss this with Sue Evans and Neil Langhorn.
    ACTION: KW
  9. Para 12. Keith confirmed that a link giving the latest update on the new model had been provided with the last set of minutes. Keith said he had spoken with Grants & Regulations who had confirmed that full EU approval had been given and it was anticipated that work on the IT system would commence within the next few months.
  10. Keith said it was hoped that this new model would be formally launched however no date had yet been confirmed.
  11. Bob McIntosh agreed that the delay in this matter was equally frustrating for both staff and customers however he explained that EU processes take time and this delay was completely out of our hands.
  12. Para 31. Keith thanked everyone for their contributions and suggestions towards the SFS Implementation plan. He confirmed that final comments had now been incorporated and the full action plan was now available on our website.
  13. Para 43. Keith provided Forum members with an updated programme for future meetings and reminded the group that they could continue, at any time, to make suggestions of alternative topics they might wish to have covered.
  14. FCS – FORWARD LOOK POST ELECTION
  15. Bob McIntosh said there was no indication to suggest any immediate changes to the current Ministers who continued to be visible and approachable and that he wanted to discuss some of the references to forestry within the Manifesto.
  16. Bob said there was a commitment to have more trees and that WIAT was strongly supported.
  17. He said that Forest Enterprise had been given specific targets to produce renewable energy and that renewables was high on the agenda.
  18. Bob said that the community purchase of woods had stalled and that the Government planned to reintroduce the Community Land Fund to help communities. It was hoped this might be introduced by the end of the year.
  19. He said the Land Use strategy had given specific mention to forestry and agriculture issues.
  20. Bob said the Government was committed to SRDP which would hopefully be more streamlined in the future. He also mentioned that the SNP manifesto included a desire for the Scottish Government to have complete responsibility for the Forestry Commission in Scotland.
  21. Bob discussed some of the key issues and said that he thought the Central Scotland Green Network would remain in the forefront and that further work on Biomass, with particular reference to small scale for CHP/Heat, would be carried out.
  22. Bob explained that there was likely to be a review of CAP and SRDP in the future. He indicated that the forestry sector would have to work hard to achieve governments planting targets and to encourage more woodland creation.
  23. Bob explained that the Government was committed to reducing the size of the senior civil service in Scotland by 25%. As part of this work, the number of SG Directorates would reduce. It had been proposed that Forestry Commission Scotland would become part of a new Forestry & Environment Directorate. Further consideration had yet to be given as to how the FC, as a GB body, would work with all the devolved administrations and Bob said change was likely over the next few years.
  24. Simon Rennie thanked Bob for his informative presentation and invited questions from the Forum.
  25. Tim Hall asked if there was an implication that there could be a Scottish Forestry Act. Bob replied that there may possibly be a debate on whether the FC, a cross-border GB body, would need to be split up. The Welsh Assembly were considering a proposal to create a single environmental body in Wales, including FC Wales. Such a development, were it to proceed, could have major implications for the rest of the FC as a whole.
  26. Chris Norman asked whether Forestry Commission Scotland had discussions with local authorities on the potential for wind energy on its estate. He was concerned that parts of the Central Belt will have further proposals which may not be acceptable in terms of their cumulative impact on an area.
  27. He said early discussions with councils could assist in steering both FCS and their developers towards the preferred locations.
  28. Bob McIntosh agreed with this concern and said he was happy to engage with Local Authorities and saw the early discussion with communities and planners as being beneficial.
  29. Keith explained that FCS now had Forest District Windfarm Liaison Officers in place and suggested that he discuss this with the Forest District Manager and arrange for one of these officers to contact Chris Norman.
    ACTION: KW
  30. FARM WOODLAND CREATION
  31. Bob Stubbs gave a brief resume of his role and explained that he had been involved in researching and completing a report for Grampian Conservancy in 2010 which aimed to help understand how farm woodland could be managed to become a viable crop option for both farmers and the timber industry. It would also aim to address how woodland creation targets could be increased within the conservancy area.
  32. He explained that a scoping report had previously concluded that a large area of land was potentially available for woodland creation. It was currently used for agricultural purposes. He mentioned that there was found to be a negative view of forestry amongst farmers and that the proposed rate of woodland development was unlikely to happen.
  33. Bob explained the objectives of the Grampian study which included the rationale for Woodland Expansion, the agricultural context, reasons for not planting, interest in collaboration and many other areas of work.
  34. Bob also described the case for co-operative working and how machinery rings were operated between members who required a service and supplier who could provide the goods or service.
  35. The Forum discussed the emergence of the woodfuel market, CAP payment structures and a lack of awareness of potential market opportunities amongst farmers.
  36. Tim Hall asked if he could get a copy of the final Grampian Woodland report and Keith agreed to send this study to him.
    ACTION: KW
  37. Simon Rennie suggested that he and Keith discuss this study at a separate meeting to determine whether further consideration should be given to commissioning a similar exercise in the Central Scotland Forum area.
    ACTION: SR/KW
  38. PESTS & DISEASES – OUTBREAK UPDATE
  39. Hugh Clayden provided a tree health update and explained that consumer demand for plants had increased from £197m in 2000 to £340m in 2008. Hugh gave details of the number of new and established pests and diseases and said vigilance and control was essential at the moment.
  40. Hugh explained that many of the diseases are not being reported and this is a major concern as outbreaks cannot be managed if reports are not being notified to the appropriate people.
  41. Hugh highlighted serious concerns over the spread of Phytopthera Ramorum throughout the UK.
  42. WIAT UPDATE
  43. Bob Frost introduced his WIAT presentation and issued the Forum members with a pack which contained the policy document, key outputs and case studies. Bob explained that WIAT phase III had been launched by the Minister at the European Urban Forestry Forum in June.
  44. He referred to the case studies and said that this now provided strong evidence that WIAT works both at project and programme level. Bob referred to future priorities and explained that an action plan had been drafted to list key actions for the period 2011-2014.
  45. A discussion followed. It was agreed that WIAT had provided great facilities within woodlands but it was suggested that we need improved monitoring to demonstrate the ongoing and increasing use of the sites that have received the capital investments. It was agreed there was a need to strengthen the evidence base.
  46. Grahame Buchan said the momentum must be retained as the critical test for the FC will be to monitor what will happen when the funding is no longer available.
  47. Bob agreed that collaborating with partners to promote and agree future work plans with local authorities was essential.
  48. Simon Rennie agreed that this is a superb programme but there is a strong requirement to understand how the programme will remain fit for purpose.
  49. OVERVIEW OF THE GLASGOW & CLYDE VALLEY FORESTRY & WOODLAND STRATEGY
  50. Steven Orr from the Land Use Consultants joined the meeting at this time.
  51. Steven explained that LUC had been appointed by FCS and GCV SDPA to completely revise the existing IFS document and prepare a Forest and Woodland Strategy in line with the Scottish Forestry Strategy and guidance within The Right Tree in the Right Place.
  52. Steven discussed the drivers behind this project and the key themes such as detailing existing levels of woodland and forestry in the Glasgow and Clyde Valley area, suggesting areas for expansion of existing woodland, reviewing existing vacant and derelict land and identifying projects which will help deliver objectives within the SFS.
  53. Meriel Young asked how information on the economic potential had been drawn together. Grahame Buchan explained the process and stated that the updated Strategic Development Plan for Glasgow & the Clyde Valley would reflect forestry’s important strategic role in the development of the Region.
  54. Steven said that Local Development plans would get into much finer details.
  55. Steve Luker asked if there had been any involvement in looking at undermanaged woodlands and also how a balance could be struck between planting more trees and maintaining existing woodlands.
  56. Steven replied that data available was not very good and Simon Rennie suggested that this topic be discussed as an agenda item at the next Forum meeting.
  57. Keith Wishart said that the strategic approach highlighted opportunities in other areas such a biomass, vacant and derelict land and that the next step would be to develop an action plan to take forward some of the opportunities identified at a strategic level.
  58. Keith explained that a new suite of Forestry and Woodland strategies were also now being completed for Edinburgh & the Lothian’s, Ayrshire, Fife and Falkirk and that this would provide complete coverage for the Central Scotland area.
  59. Keith invited any comments on the draft strategy. Grahame Buchan commented that perhaps Scottish Government doesn’t fully understand the importance of this work and suggested that discussions with the Planning Minister might be worthwhile.

    54. Grahame and Simon Rennie agreed to have further discussions on this matter.
    ACTION: SR/GB

    ANY OTHER COMPETENT BUSINESS
  60. Simon Rennie explained that he had been made aware by another Fora Chair that a number of practioners had made the point that there was a burden of unnecessary bureaucratic complexities within forestry which sometimes seriously inhibited activity.
  61. Simon had agreed to seek this Forums view on whether members had encountered similar concerns and if there was any merit in attempting to follow this up.
  62. He asked if the group thought this subject warranted further discussion and should the Forum proceed with this either as a group or individually.
  63. The consensus was to take this no further.
  64. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
  65. The date of the next meeting was confirmed as Tuesday, 25 October and the venue will be the Teacher Building in Glasgow.
  66. Simon thanked everyone for their attendance and participation and closed the meeting.