HC Deb 13 May 1952 vol 500 cc1091-2
10. Mr. Rankin

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what schemes of re-afforestation on secondary land he proposes for the Highlands of Scotland.

Mr. Snadden

In the Highland Counties, the Forestry Commission are at present planting at the rate of 11,500 acres a year and they expect to increase this rate to 16,000 acres by 1956. The Commission's aim is to secure the re-afforestation of all felled woodlands in the Highlands as soon as possible: other land is made available for planting only after consultation with the Department of Agriculture for Scotland and full consideration of the agricultural issues involved.

Mr. Rankin:

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that recently Sir Frank Mears directed attention to the fact that certain parts of the Highlands, in particular Sutherlandshire, were faced with the great danger of almost complete depopulation in the very near future? Is he aware that schemes like this are methods of preventing that, and will he prosecute them as quickly as possible?

Mr. Snadden

We are very well aware of what is happening, especially in Sutherland, and our policy in regard to the Forestry Commission is to do everything possible to get afforestation schemes into the areas to which the hon. Gentleman has referred.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Can my hon. Friend say who actually makes a decision as to what is or is not secondary land, because he will be aware, like the rest of us, that there is disquiet that good land is being taken for this purpose?

Mr. Snadden

In the first instance, the Forestry Commission indicate where they think they can plant. After that, they have to go to the Secretary of State for Scotland to see whether or not he will agree that the land should be taken.

Mr. Woodburn

Would the Secretary of State keep in mind that many of the small islands are becoming completely depopulated and will go back to wilderness unless something is done, and that it is a social duty that the Forestry Commission should devote some attention to seeing that they are used for afforestation?

Mr. Snadden

The right hon. Gentleman may not be aware that the Forestry Commission are already going into some of these islands with afforestation schemes