HC Deb 09 November 1966 vol 735 cc1295-6
21. Mr. James Davidson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will initiate a rural development survey, on the lines of the survey now being carried out in Sutherlandshire, to establish the location and extent of land suitable for forestry development in North-East Scotland.

Mr. Willis

A survey of part of Upper Aberdeenshire and Upper Banffshire, on similar lines to the survey which is being made in Sutherlandshire, has already begun.

Mr. Davidson

Is the Minister of State aware that this survey is meeting with an extreme lack of co-operation on the part of many of the landowners concerned; that there are only 18,000 or 20,000 acres of suitable planting land left in reserve, and that even the reduced rate of planting which the Eastern Conservancy is undertaking will give only about four or five years of planting reserve, when those concerned like to bank on six years or more?

Mr. Willis

I am not aware of hostility on the part of owners. My information is that they have agreed to this survey being undertaken. We are aware of the shortage in the area, and that is why we are taking these steps.

Mr. Maclennan

Is my hon. Friend aware that the survey being carried out in Sutherlandshire is giving rise to some concern amongst local agriculturists that it is being carried out with a view to determining what land is suitable for afforestation?

Mr. Willis

Sutherlandshire is rather a different question; the main question is about North-East Scotland.