A Borders MSP’s demands for emergency felling measures have been heard, following a recent announcement by Scottish Forestry.
Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Rachael Hamilton called for greater resource to be provided to Scottish Forestry to fast-track felling applications, as well as more support to be given to local offices who are dealing with a high volume of calls.
Scottish Forestry announced it plans to simplify the Felling Permission Application (FPA) process for windblown trees and additional measures set out below only apply to forests and woodlands damaged as a result of Storm Arwen.
In an urgent question session today in Holyrood, Mrs Hamilton urged the Deputy First Minister to implement temporary emergency changes to be made to felling regulations to allow the clean up to continue at pace.
After Storm Arwen, it is estimated that in excess of one million cubic metres of timber has been blown down in Scotland, around 20% of the annual harvest.
During a visit to Foulden Hill, Berwickshire, Rachael saw first-hand the destruction to forestry, where unsafe trees still remain a significant issue.
Hundreds of thousands of acres of woodland right across Eastern Scotland were flattened due to the storm, prompting calls for a derogation to felling regulations in the wake of extreme weather events.
Leading organisations such as Confor and Scottish Land and Estates have cited that their members are desperately seeking temporary changes to the legislation to facilitate the clear up of windblown woodland.
Scottish Conservative Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Rachael Hamilton MSP said:
“I am glad that finally the SNP Government have acted on our demands, with Scottish Forestry announcing new measures in response to storm damage.
“Large swathes of eastern Scotland, from the Borders to Moray have been devastated by Storm Arwen.
“Urgent changes to felling measures are welcomed, as there is a great need to clear damaged forestry as quickly as possible.
“There also must be greater support given to organisations to ensure that applications for felling permissions can be processed quickly. That will help to clear unsafe forestry and allow windblown trees to be harvested before they lose any further value.
"We saw a lack of urgency from the SNP Government in response to Storm Arwen and Storm Barra is now wreaking further havoc. There is no time to wait and I will keep pushing for this legislation to be altered as soon as possible.”