HC Deb 01 March 1984 vol 55 cc381-2
12. Mr. Proctor

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will consider a review of procedures concerning tree felling; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Fenner

A review of felling licensing procedures was carried out comparatively recently and changes were announced in the House on 27 May 1982 by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. The revised procedures provide effective controls over tree felling and a further review is not comtemplated at present.

Mr. Proctor

I accept that a majority of farmers take a responsible view on and attitude to these matters, but does my hon. Friend think that the available powers are strong enough to prevent the rogue farmer from cutting down trees, as has happened in my constituency at Little Burstead, where some very fine oaks were chopped down by a farmer, to the understandable fury of my constituents?

Mrs. Fenner

I am aware of the incident to which my hon. Friend refers, but that matter is now to be dealt with by the courts, so it is sub judice. I am satisfied as to the adequacy of the controls, which are linked with effective consultation procedures, and are designed to resolve any conflict in interests.

Mr. Rowe

Does my hon. Friend agree that the practice of taking a heavy plough between trees that are under a preservation order may so damage the roots that it will be necessary to fell the trees in subsequent years? Is this not a singular breach of the spirit of the present regulations, and will my hon. Friend see whether there are some ways to strengthen the regulations?

Mrs. Fenner

I know about my hon. Friend's deep concern. Tree preservation orders are for the local authority but I note my hon. Friend's concern about the treatment of the land between the trees and shall raise the matter.