Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 7 February 2002.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party 2:30, 7 February 2002

To ask the Scottish Executive what assessment it has made of the impact on the forestry industry of its and Her Majesty's Government's policies. (S1O-4607)

Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour

We published our forestry strategy in November 2000. The forestry industry and other stakeholders were actively involved in the formulation of that strategy. Forestry is a devolved matter. The forestry strategy operates within a climate that may be affected by many factors, among which are the policies of Her Majesty's Government and the European Union. We are now implementing the strategy. We have established a forestry forum, which includes representatives from the forestry industry as well as other stakeholders, to assist in taking that strategy forward and to assess progress.

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

I have given the minister brief notice of my supplementary question. Will he seek a review of the building regulations in Scotland in order to increase the required levels of insulation in domestic house building, thereby promoting and increasing the market for home-grown Scottish timber? Does he agree that that would not only be good for the environment and for the provision of warm homes, but provide an extremely welcome boost to the Scottish timber industry and the 12,000 jobs that it sustains?

Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour

I wholly welcome any moves to sustain those jobs and to boost the timber industry. Timber production is set to double over the coming 10 to 15 years. We are working closely with the industry through the Forestry Commission on a major campaign to promote the use of wood by architects and other specifiers. The building regulations are constantly under review. Review of those regulations in accordance with our policies on energy efficiency and insulation would be welcome, but it would have to be done in conjunction with our colleagues in England and Wales, which is prospectively our biggest market. I hope to broach that subject with those colleagues at a joint meeting next month.

Photo of Jamie McGrigor Jamie McGrigor Conservative

How can the Executive say that it supports the forestry industry when it is four months late with many farm woodland premium scheme payments? Why is the rate for those payments half the rate in Ireland?

Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour

We announced a review of the grants when we published the Scottish forestry strategy. A steering group that represents the industry and other stakeholders is overseeing that review and I expect it to report to me in March.