David Stewart MSP

Scottish Government confirms London City Bankers dreamt up idea for forest leasing proposals

11 February 2009

Labour’s chief whip in the Scottish Parliament David Stewart is revealing that private bankers Rothschild dreamt up the plans to lease Scotland’s forests.

Following questions by the Highlands and Islands MSP, the Environment minister Mike Russell has confirmed that the City of London merchant bankers approached the Scottish Government with plans for the forest estate.

Mr Stewart commented:

“The proposals to lease off huge sections of Scotland’s national forests to private companies have attracted widespread condemnation.

The government’s regular talks with Margaret Thatcher’s favourite privatisation bank indicates there may have had a client or two in the wings.

This short sighted move to hand over the profits from forests grown by tax payers would be damaging for the management and employment of Scotland’s national asset. Even Mrs Thatcher shied away from privatising the Forestry Commission.

“The numbers just don’t add up.
“We have been told that the national forest estate is worth about £850 million and that the Government wants to raise £200 million from leasing vast areas of forest.
“However, £850 million is the most optimistic valuation of the estate in a stable land market.
“The market reality is that, by flooding the market with an enormous area of land, the Government will lower the price and value of the assets.
“Moreover, the creation of leases with highly restrictive clauses will have a negative effect on the value of the assets, which might mean that even greater than expected areas of Scotland’s forests have to leave public ownership in order to raise the necessary cash.
“If the idea is pursued, any future Government’s ability to manage the forests will be hamstrung for 75 years, irrespective of new knowledge or developments in climate change, land use or any social, economic or environmental policy.
“A quarter of our national forest estate will effectively be exempt from public intervention until 2084.
“That cannot be right.
“The minister has said this is not a back-door privatisation, because only trees will be sold; the land itself will remain in public ownership.
“However, the land is relatively worthless without the trees that are planted in it.
“That fact, coupled with the length of the proposed leases, shows that this is asset stripping of almost eye-watering magnitude.
“Introducing this leasing scheme in the name of climate control also beggars belief.

“Our living forests play a number of roles in climate change mitigation, industry and construction, job creation, biomass, housing, leisure, and biodiversity, and should remain effectively managed.

“Labour will be continuing to call for the withdrawal of this leasing scheme.”

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Written by davidstewart

February 11, 2009 at 9:33 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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