HC Deb 06 April 1954 vol 526 cc163-4
1. Captain Duncan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a further statement on the progress made in dealing with the gale-blown timber in the North-East of Scotland; and whether he expects it all to be dealt with by January, 1955.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. McNair Snadden)

Extraction is still proceeding at the rate of about 2 million cubic feet per month. As the statement of progress is rather lengthy, I shall, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Captain Duncan

Will my hon. Friend answer the last part of the Question and say whether the timber will be dealt with in the time originally anticipated?

Mr. Snadden

My right hon. Friend cannot give a specific date because certain of the timber is in inaccessible places, but if my hon. and gallant Friend will read the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow morning, he will find a full report of the progress.

Mr. Rankin

Does the hon. Gentleman think that his Government will still be in power at January, 1955?

Major McCallum

In view of the present situation, is it the policy now to authorise the Forestry Commission, where possible, to issue felling licences in respect of standing timber?

Mr. Snadden

That is a separate question which should be put on the Order Paper.

Following is the statement: Arrangements have been made for working all but approximately half a million cubic feet of the 47¾ million cubic feet of gale-blown timber in the North-East of Scotland. The rate of felling and extraction has been maintained at 2 million cubic feet per month and the volume extracted to roadside is now estimated at 26 million cubic feet. Approximately 3 million cubic feet of round logs have been transported to mills outside the affected area under the transport assistance arrangements. Further increases in the rates of assistance took effect as from 1st March and it is hoped that this will result in the increased movement of the remaining blown timber. Transport to England and Wales of mining timber surplus to the requirements of the Scottish coalfields continues, also under freight assistance arrangements made by the Government, and to date orders have been placed for about 2½ million cubic feet. If the present rate of progress is maintained, it is estimated that the vast bulk of the windblown timber will have been cleared by the end of January, 1955. Although there will probably be some exceptions, as work on some blown areas is still behindhand, broadly the situation is that the material then remaining on the ground will consist largely of larch and hardwoods which have been deliberately left until last as they are less liable to deterioration, and small lots which are inaccessible or of indifferent or poor quality. Work will, of course, go on to clear the saleable timber as quickly as possible.
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