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Forestry Commission

Volume 227: debated on Monday 28 June 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many people are directly employed by the Forestry Commission in each region and in total.

[holding answer 22 June 1993]: The Forestry Commission does not maintain records of its staff numbers by local authority regions, and this information could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The commission directly employs 2,095 staff in Scotland, of whom 364 work in its headquarters office in Edinburgh.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the current value of the assets of the Forestry Commission.

[holding answer 22 June 1993]: The latest valuation of the Forestry Commission's assets, as published in its annual report for the year ended 31 March 1992, was £2,949·5 million.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the accounted value of the assets of the Forestry Commission; and what advice he has received as to the current price obtainable on the market for these assets.

[holding answer 23 June 1993]: The latest valuation of the Forestry Commission's assets, as published in its annual report for the year ended 31 March 1992, was £2,949·5 million. This included plantations—£2,787·9 million—and other assets—net value £161·6 million. The value of the plantations was calculated from the expected future value of the wood production at the time of felling, less the management costs, discounted at the commission's target rate of return of 3 per cent. The market value of the plantations was estimated to be £1,700 million.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the various objections which can prevent public access to land sold by the Forestry Commission under the arrangements made in October 1991.

[holding answer 22 June 1993 ]: The arrangements under which the Forestry Commission offers to enter into access agreements with local authorities in respect of woodlands to be sold cannot apply in the following circumstances:

  • sales arising from the exercise of reserved powers in the commission's title, such as a landlord's right to resume possession of a leased area;
  • sales to former owners under the Government's offer-back (Crichel Down) procedures;
  • sales for public purposes such as highway improvements;
  • sales involving a change in land use for which planning permission has been granted; and
  • boundary adjustments which have no impact on public access.
  • Some Forestry Commission woodlands are also subject to rights and interests held by third parties which could affect public access. In such cases, the completion of an access agreement with the local authority would be subject to the third party's acceptance. In addition, where the title to a woodland being sold contains reserved rights—to the working of minerals, for example—any agreement would be made subject to the exercise of those rights.