Review of forestry planting approval procedures

A review of forestry planting approval procedures was undertaken by Jim Mackinnon CBE. The review aims to reduce the complexity, duration and cost of tree planting applications.


An implementation plan has been drawn up featuring 21 recommendations. These have been grouped into work streams. Each is intended to produce specific outputs to deliver benefits for the woodland creation process.

The delivery group

The delivery group acts as an external reference group of the Project Board. Their role involves:

  • Providing forestry stakeholders' and other external input into the development of the outputs.
  • Championing the project and raising awareness within the forest sector
  • Supporting the project manager in delivering the project outputs to the forest sector.


  • Jo O'Hara, FCS (Chair)
  • James Nott, FCS
  • Brendan Callaghan, FCS
  • Sue Kearns, SG
  • Carol McGinnes, SEPA
  • David Sulman, UKFPA
  • Nick Halfhide, SNH
  • Shireen Chambers, ICF
  • Stuart Goodall , Confor
  • Tim Liddon, Confor
  • Charles Dundas, LINK

First steps

The summary outlines how we will deliver each work stream, including initial steps.


The intended benefits of each work stream are outlined below:


Work streams Benefits

1. Pre application and consultation process

  • Reduced costs (stakeholder engagement prior to writing the plan removing requirement to rewrite)
  • Early community engagement providing early opportunity to influence design
  • Speed up the woodland creation application process

2. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process improvements

  • Targeted requests for information
  • Consistent approach
  • Experienced team
  • Reduced processing times
  • Reduced complexity of environmental statements
  • Reduce cost of application process
3. Approval  process improvements
  • Higher standard of applications
  • Simpler grant approval process
  • Increased trust in agents
  • Faster approval times
4. Management information and targets
  • Improved ability to target improvement actions
  • Ability to identify potential problems
5. Promotion, training and public information
  • Public awareness of woodland creation opportunities and benefits
  • Improved knowledge of all participants leading to higher standards
6. Potential large regional forest creation project
  • Large scale planting with community involvement

Delivery updates

April 2017

This update gives an overview of the work undertaken between December 2016 and April 2017 to implement the Mackinnon Report recommendations. It  includes a summary of the first two Delivery Reference Group meetings.

May 2017

Jim Mackinnon has submitted his up-dated review of progress in implementing the recommendations:

Forestry Commission Scotland joint working agreements

Delivery reference group meeting minutes