Million pound Forestry Development Fund confirmed by Chancellor
Chancellor George Osborne has confirmed in a letter to Confor's Chief Executive Stuart Goodall that the £1 million fund announced in the March 2015 budget to support forestry development projects will be officially launched this year.
This follows lobbying by Confor to ensure that the money can be used to stimulate new planting.
Speaking at a Confor event, Modern Forestry: Unleashing the Rural Potential on the importance of the industry in Westminster today, Forestry Minister Rory Stewart MP welcomed the announcement.
Mr Stewart said: "Forestry is already a significant driver of economic growth, supporting 40,000 jobs and delivering in excess of £2 billion each year, and achieving this funding commitment in the last Budget served as real recognition of this industry's importance for our economy and environment.
"It's great news that the Chancellor has reconfirmed the future of the Forestry Innovation Project, and I now look forward to working with the Forestry Commission as they finalise plans to roll out the scheme to create more woodland and boost further growth."
Confor Chief Executive Stuart Goodall said: "Confor has worked hard behind the scenes to ensure this funding can help stimulate forestry across rural England - and I am delighted that we can now move ahead and work with Government to deploy it where it will be most successful in stimulating rural economic growth.
"It was very gratifying to hear Rory Stewart describe the forestry and timber sector as ‘unbelievably important' in a recent Westminster committee meeting - and even more pleasing to know that the ability of our sector to deliver long-term and value-for-money economic, environmental and social benefits is understood at the highest levels of Government."
Mr Goodall added: "I'd also like to thank Chris Davies MP, who, as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry, wrote to the minister on behalf of the APPG regarding the fund."
Mr Osborne's letter says an announcement will be made soon on when the £1 million fund will be open to applications and Mr Goodall said Confor would be in close touch with Defra officials and would keep its members fully informed.
Oliver Combe, who headed up the Roots to Prosperity (R2P) scheme in the North of England, said: "R2P has been a great success and it's excellent news for the sector that fund will soon be open to other similar schemes across England. The real value of this public money is its ability to leverage further funding from private and public sources at local level, which means that £1 million can go a very long way."
For more information, please contact Stuart Goodall on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07760 557448 or David Lee on 07802 206695