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Volume 130: debated on Thursday 31 March 1988

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received about his Department's policy towards the encouragement of the planting of deciduous trees in England and Wales in the light of the Budget taxation proposals.

I have received no such representations, but substantial encouragement for the planting of broadleaves will be provided by the new woodland grant scheme and by the proposed farm woodland scheme.

While very much welcoming the Government's woodland grant scheme, may I ask my right hon. Friend to confirm that, with the present state of the agriculture industry, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to start re-creating some of our lost woodlands? Does he understand the importance of that envronmentally as well as economically, in the light of the fact that we have probably lost about half our ancient woodlands in the past half century?

I agree with my hon. Friend that there is a good opportunity for three reasons—the surpluses, the environmental aspect and the other opportunities in farming. We have introduced the farm woodland scheme and it looks as if we shall get a good response to it.