Sell-off of England's forests could lead to Scottish job cuts

Westminster plans to sell forestry land south of the border may jeopardise 340 jobs at Forestry Commission's Edinburgh HQ.

Threat: Posts at the Forestry Commission's headquarters in Edinburgh could be axed.

Scots jobs could be jeopardised by plans to privatise forests in England, an MSP has revealed.

About 340 Scottish jobs could be at risk from the English cuts, even though Scottish forests are set to remain under public control.

Westminster is currently pursuing plans to sell off forestry land in England and could seek powers to abolish the UK Forestry Commission, the public body responsible for the protection and expansion of Britain's forests and woodlands.

Forestry is a devolved matter, meaning changes in England will not affect forests in Scotland. However, Edinburgh was home to the UK Forestry Commission headquarters prior to devolution.

The Corstorphine building still retains UK-wide services such as plant health, research and back office functions like human resources, IT and finance.

About 90 people are also employed in its research centre at Roslin in Midlothian.

The Scottish Government previously rejected a plan to lease off as much as a quarter of its own publicly owned forests under pressure from Scottish Labour in 2009.

Congratulated

On Thursday, Labour's Lothians MSP George Foulkes once again congratulated the Government for dropping the plan, and called for cross-party action to protect Scottish jobs in the face of the potential English privatisation.

Scottish Minister for the Environment and Climate Change Roseanna Cunningham said: "It is the case that the English proposals would have an impact on UK forestry as a whole simply through the fact that jobs will be threatened.

"It is a matter of some regret for us that the biggest threat hangs over jobs in Scotland, in Corstorphine.

"In my view, however, the initial enthusiasm of UK environment minister Jim Paice is perhaps beginning to be somewhat moderated as he realises just how difficult a process he has set in play and how hard it is going to be to do what he thinks he wants to do.

"As yet, I suspect he has only just begun to touch on the likely backlash there will be when the general public in England begin to realise what he's up to."

Some 250 staff are employed at the Forestry Commission's UK headquarters at Silvan House in Corstorphine Road and another 90 at the Forest Research centre in Roslin, Midlothian.

At risk

Public sector unions believe up to half the jobs could be at risk because they are funded by the Westminster government, which is cutting £12m from the Forestry Commission's budget.

There is also a further threat from the Public Bodies Bill, currently going through Westminster, which would allow the abolition of the Forestry Commission and the sale of any or all of England's public forestry estate.

A spokesman for the Forestry Commission, which employs about 3000 people throughout the UK, said it was facing a reduction of 25% in its spending and acknowledged jobs could go.

He said: "Reducing the number of staff is a possibility, but we don't know what the end result will be."

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.