HC Deb 23 April 1929 vol 227 cc708-9
33. Viscount SANDON

asked the hon. and gallant Member for Rye as representing the Forestry Commissioners, whether plantations are insured against fire and other risks; whether any expenditure falls on the Commission in these connections; if so, to what monetary extent in a year; whether preventive legislation has been contemplated as to such fires; and how many trees, stating their value, have been so lost annually?

Colonel Sir GEORGE COURTHOPE (Forestry Commissioner)

The Forestry Commission's plantations are not insured against fire or other risks, the general practice of the public service being that no insurance should be effected against the risk of any loss, which, if it arose, would fall directly upon public funds. 2s. 6d. per £100 expenditure on plantations is however carried to fire insurance reserve in the Commission's commercial accounts. The Commissioners are bearing in mind the possibility of legislation and will ask for additional powers if it is found that such powers can be made effective. During each of the last three forest years ended 30th September, which were normal seasons the area of the Commission's plantations damaged by fire has been 571 acres, 563 and 545 respectively, the damage being £1,935, £2,073 and £2,874 respectively. It is not possible to state the number of tree plants lost but the average number per acre may be put at 1,700. During the present abnormal fire season, which still continues, the losses are proving much higher.


Can the hon. Baronet state what is the total acreage belonging to the Commissioners so that we may be able to judge the total figure in relation to the acreage?


Is provision made by way of turning over the soil along the boundary as is commonly done abroad?


Yes, fire lines are maintained wherever possible, but during the last few months it has frequently happened that they have been ineffectual because the high winds have carried sparks from the bracken over the fire lines into other blocks of timber.

Viscount SANDON

Can the hon. and gallant Baronet say to what extent this 2s. 6d. meets the losses?


It will certainly meet the losses so far as estimated under normal circumstances, but it will not go very far towards meeting the losses under abnormal conditions.