Confor steps up MSP engagement

27 October 2016

Confor has stepped up its political engagement in Scotland by arranging the first in a series of visits for senior MSPs to forestry and wood processing sites across the country.

Peter Chapman MSP, the Scottish Conservatives Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, was shown around Glen Tanar Estate and James Jones & Sons sawmill in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, by Stuart Goodall, Confor's Chief Executive.

Mr Goodall explained: "We have some very powerful messages in Scotland - a £1 billion industry providing at least 25,000 jobs - and have produced some great documents to talk up our sector.

"However, there is nothing better than getting politicians out into the forests and sawmills of Scotland, to show them the passion of the people in our sector and how they are powering the rural economy. Raising awareness among MSPs is particularly important as we move towards full devolution of forestry to Scotland and a new Forestry Bill for the first time in 50 years.”

Mr Chapman, Scottish Conservatives MSP for North East Scotland, a farmer and former official with the National Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Society, was shown around the modern, multi-purpose forests of Glen Tanar by Mr Goodall and estate owner Michael Bruce, where he saw how the forest directly supported over a dozen jobs.

He also visited the Burnroot sawmill at Aboyne, where Neil Sneddon and Duncan Cassie of James Jones & Sons explained the workings of a modern mill.

Mr Goodall said: "Peter Chapman is a strong advocate for rural policy in the Scottish Parliament.  Since his election in May he has taken a real interest in forestry and wood processing and the economic and environmental benefits our industry brings to Scotland.   

“Confor seeks to inform public policy debates by briefing MSPs and responding to committee inquiries.  However it’s by seeing the scale and modernity of a sawmill and the way that modern forests are managed for economic, environmental and social benefit that politicians truly 'get' all that the sector has to offer and how important it is. 

"We are delighted an MSP with so much real life experience of Scotland’s countryside is serving on the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, especially when the committee is set for detailed consideration of how the Scottish Government is meeting its tree planting targets as part of its consideration of this year’s budget.” 

Peter Chapman said: "I was delighted to take up Confor's offer to visit Glen Tanar and Burnroot in Aboyne to see forestry and timber industry up close. This £1 billion sector is a modern-day success story which has a very important part to play in building a modern, diverse rural economy across Scotland. I look forward to further engagement with Confor and the wider sector during the lifetime of this parliament."