HC Deb 13 December 2001 vol 376 c988
4. Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston)

If she will make a statement on her policy on forestry. [20557]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Elliot Morley)

Our policy is to implement the sustainable management of our forests and woodlands and to promote those standards globally. The standards we apply are set out in the UK forestry standard, published in January 1998. Our policies and programmes for forestry in England are set out in the "English Forestry Strategy", which we published in December 1998.

Mr. Miller

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. I beg your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, in first congratulating my noble Friend Lord Clark of Windermere, previously chairman of the all-party group on forestry, on his appointment as chairman of the Forestry Commission.

Community forests are important in creating a buffer between some of our old industrial areas and residential areas. Does my hon. Friend agree that this programme is proving successful, particularly in the Mersey basin? Will he commit himself to working with landowners to look for an extension of these programmes?

Mr. Morley

I welcome my hon. Friend's comments on the appointment of Lord Clark, which was supported by the forestry Ministers from all the devolved Administrations. Lord Clark has a long history of involvement with forestry issues, and I am sure that his appointment will be widely welcomed.

Community forests, and forests generally, have a tremendous role to play in regeneration and in reclaiming derelict land. I am pleased that the North West regional development agency has earmarked £10 million to take that forward. There is great scope for involving private sector funds and a range of organisations in taking forward community forests, which not only provide considerable benefits for local communities, as they have in the Mersey forest, but have scope for regeneration in a way that offers a range of benefits.