§ Lord Gainford
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they have any information about the future of the farm woodland scheme.
§ Baroness Trumpington
The Farm Woodland Scheme was introduced in October 1988 for a three-year trial period. That period will shortly expire and my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, together with the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, are undertaking a comprehensive review of the scheme.
As a contribution to the review, my right honourable friends commissioned three farm surveys from Robertson Gould Consultants on the silvicultural and the environmental aspects of the scheme in Great Britain, and from Wye College and the Scottish Agricultural College, Aberdeen on the socio-economic aspects in England and Scotland respectively. These have now been published by the three organisations and copies are available from them. In addition we have received a number of submissions from organisations with a particular interest in the scheme. To give us time to analyse this information and to complete the review we have decided to continue to accept applications under the existing rules of the Farm Woodland Scheme until 31st March 1992. An announcement about the outcome of the review will be made in the autumn.
Finally, Section 2(3) of the Farm Land and Rural Development Act 1988 requires that Ministers review the grants under the Farm Woodland Scheme in Great Britain by 30th September 1991 and lay a report before Parliament. The Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and my right honourable friend the Minister have reviewed the annual payments provided under the scheme and have decided that they should remain unchanged. A report giving the background to the decision has been placed in both Libraries.