HC Deb 28 February 1956 vol 549 cc1010-2
64. Mr. Woodburn

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how long the felled areas between Newtonmore and Inverness have lain without replanting; and what are the reasons; and what action is proposed.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Niall Macpherson)

Most of the felling in these areas took place during the last war. Among the reasons for delay in replanting are lack of labour and equipment, especially in the early post-war years, and the fact that replanting in coniferous woods must be deferred until the danger of attack by weevils has passed. Some of the estates have entered into dedication agreements and replanting is being carried on vigorously, while other areas have been acquired by the Forestry Commission. The Commission will continue to press for the completion of the work.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the Minister aware that five years is roughly the time necessary to clean the ground; and that this has been lying for a long time and is an eyesore to the public and a great waste of fine land? Will he press the Forestry Commission to get ahead with the work as soon as possible?

Mr. Macpherson

Most of the land is under private ownership but planting is going ahead and is making steady progress. In one private estate more than 500 acres a year are being planted.

Sir A. Gomme-Duncan

Is my hon. Friend aware that there are other factors affected in clearing woodlands in this way quite beyond that merely of timber supplies, such as water supplies and long-distance considerations of that kind, which have a serious effect on the whole countryside?

Mr. Macpherson

Yes, Sir.

65. Mr. Woodburn

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how much felled land in Scotland has been left without replanting for more than five years, 10 years, and 15 or more years, respectively; and what proposals the Forestry Commission have for ensuring the early use of such land for afforestation.

Mr. N. Macpherson

It would not be possible to answer the first part of this Question with any precision without a special inquiry, which would require additional staff. There are at present some 340,000 acres of felled woodland in Scotland which could be planted on an economic basis: of this about 200,000 acres are included in existing plans for planting and management to be carried out either by private owners under the dedication or approved woods schemes or by the Forestry Commission. The Commission is continuing to encourage such private planting as well as to acquire land.