HC Deb 29 October 1957 vol 575 cc45-8W
Mr. Vane

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he intends to take with regard to the recommendations contained in the Report by the Natural Resources (Technical) Committee under the chairmanship of Sir Solly Zuckerman.

Mr. Amory

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I, in conjunction with the Forestry Commission, have now been able to complete our examination of the Committee's recommendations in its Report on Forestry. Agriculture and Marginal Land.

The Government are grateful to Prof. Sir Solly Zuckerman and his colleagues for their full and detailed study of these matters and I have already made known the acceptance as our established policy of the need, which the Committee stresses, for closer integration of forestry and agriculture in the hill and upland areas of Great Britain. New plantations are planned with the fullest regard to the needs of land remaining in agriculture.

By the maintenance of fencing beyond the time when it is required for the protection of plantations, vermin control and other measures, the Commission seeks to, avoid such local damage to adjoining farms as new plantations might bring. And it is exploiting to the full the positive advantages to agriculture that may follow in remote areas from the provision for forestry purposes of new roads and other services, the availability of machinery, labour and transport, and, in addition to the burning of protective belts adjoining their own plantations, the lending of staff, where possible, to help farmers to carry out burning on their own land.

We fully accept the Committee's view that more land will be planted if those who live in areas which are marginal for agricultural purposes can be convinced that trees are an asset; and many measures the Committee suggests to increase the afforested area, whether by the development of state forests or by private enterprise, are already in operation.

The Committee's stress on the need to find additional end-uses for forest produce has been noted. The Forestry Commission has already been successful in encouraging the establishment of new factories using home-grown forest produce and the substitution of such produce for other materials formerly used by existing factories. It is watching new developments in the use of wood very carefully in case any new processes emerge that are suitable for introduction, in this country.

As regards the Committee's discussion of the post-war forestry programme, the Government have decided to carry out a thorough review of the bases and objectives of forestry policy, taking full account of the economic, social and defence factors involved. This review is being carried out with the concurrence and assistance of the Forestry Commission. The decisions reached by the Government as the result of the review will be announced in due course.