The Argyll and Bute Woodland and Forestry Strategy has won a coveted award at the UK Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Planning Awards. The strategy has won the ‘Rural area and natural environment’ category.
The awards were established in 1978, and developed into the UK’s premier awards for planning, recognising the very best practice and rewarding outstanding achievement in the profession.
More than 130 entries were received from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland and 34 projects were shortlisted across 9 diverse categories covering topics as diverse as heritage, rural areas, and planning for business. Entrants were judged by a panel of planning experts who examined written submissions, carried out interviews and conducted site visits.
Spokesperson for the environment, Councillor Bruce Marshall said, “I’m delighted the Woodland and Forestry strategy has won this prestigious award. This is a fabulous accolade for the team at Argyll and Bute Council who have worked incredibly hard and this is very well deserved, I would particularly mention Sybil Johnson and Fergus Murray. Competition from all over Britain was of the highest order for this award and it is really impressive that Argyll & Bute have come out on top”
“The plan sets a framework for the future development of our forests and woodlands so that we can maximise their contribution to our local economy, to the environment, our rich heritage, and to the quality of life for our communities and residents.”
Stewart Stevenson, Environment & Climate Change Minister said, "Planting the right trees in the right place is very important, so that we optimise the benefits of expanding woodland cover in Scotland.
"At a national level, the Woodland Expansion Advisory Group is currently looking at this issue in great depth. There is increasing demand for land from various land based industries and we need to work together to ensure that everyone's needs are taken account of.
"The woodland and forestry strategy developed by Argyll & Bute Council, in partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland, is a worthy award winner. It demonstrates how best to maximise the benefits of forestry for the economy, people and the environment in an integrated manner and I am delighted to hear that their efforts have been recognised in this way."
The strategy was produced to influence the future expansion and restructuring of woodlands in our area. It also looks at local circumstances and factors for consideration when planting and felling proposals are being assessed. The strategy should ensure the benefits from future development of woodland in the area are maximised.
The strategy identifies the existing resource within Argyll and Bute (excluding the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park). It gives a broad level view of what we have and where it is across a wide range of forest and woodland related activities, for example, ancient and semi natural woodlands, timber transport routes, sawmills, land capability for forestry, recreation facilities and main access.
It was commissioned by Argyll and Bute Council and Forestry Commission Scotland. Funding support was also given by the Scottish Government and the European Community Argyll and the Islands LEADER 2007 – 2013 programme and Scottish Enterprise. There is an extra ten percent of funding available in Argyll and Bute because we have the strategy. The money would be used for the creation of woodlands for timber production in the “Preferred‟ and “Potential‟ areas indicated within it.
The strategy was written with the help of a consortium of consultants including Land Use Consultants, Bidwells and STAR group. An Advisory Group was also set up to provide advice and guidance throughout the preparation of the strategy. The Group comprises a range of key stakeholders with interests and expertise in woodland and forestry matters.
The future development of forestry and woodlands could affect many people living, working and enjoying the environment within Argyll and Bute. Argyll and Bute Council made sure it included the views of people and groups of a varied cross-section of interests including economic, social and environmental were sought throughout the preparation of this strategy. Open days were held in the area, a questionnaire was created for people to give their views, an issues paper and a strategy were consulted on and an advisory group was set up.