asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that Raemore grazings on Gruids Farm, Lairg, Sutherland, are to be used by the Forestry Commission for growing trees; and, in view of the scarcity of agricultural land in Sutherland and the abundance of non-agricultural land suitable for growing timber, if he will take steps to ensure that these pastures should be used by the crofting community to produce food.
The Raemore grazings are to be used for forestry in accordance with the Strathoykell plan which was approved by the Highlands Panel. My right hon. Friend cannot see his way to alter the arrangements made for the planting of this area. I have today written to my hon. Friend about this matter.
Is it not wholly wrong that grazings which have provided food for over two centuries should be used for growing timber, when we have so much land in Sutherland which is not suitable for food production but is suitable for timber production?
I have written to my hon. Friend fully on this matter, but I would remind him that the land was originally secured for forestry, and we have to take into account the fact that afforestation will provide work for crofters not fully employed. The general effect in the area has also to be taken into account, as well as grazings.