Conflict of Interest – Myth Busted?


in News

From the Save Our Woods Forum

The Regulatory Body Argument

Mrs Spelman seems to be hanging everything on saying that we can’t have the Forestry Commission as regulator as well as the biggest supplier of timber in the UK. Sorry Mrs Spelman, your argument just doesn’t hold up.

1. Unlike water, gas, telephone supply, etc., timber is an internationally traded commodity. GB only supplies about 10% of its needs. So although the FC supplies around 50% of [homegrown] England supply it actually satisfies only 5% of demand. It’s hardly going to dictate price with that sort of share is it?

2. Spelman claims that the FC isn’t regulated. It is – Maggie (remember her? Tory I believe) set it down that road in the early 90s. The FC is actually three organisations in England – Forest Research, Forest Enterprise (FE) and The Forestry Commission (initially known as the Forest Authority or FA after the original split).

FE manage the FC estate on behalf of the people. FA oversees this as regulatory body ie FE has to apply for permission to fell anything, plant anything etc. FA does not give FE grant aid (as it does private owners). FE normally gets permission for very long term plans (Forest Design Plans – FDPs) that are fully consulted with stake holders. Private owners don’t have to consult before submitting their proposals. In both instances FA places all felling applications on a public register and the public can object. If the objections are reasonable permission will either not be granted for felling or FA will seek amendments to the plan.

3. The FC estate was the first state forest in the world to be given the FSC award (Forestry Stewardship Council). FSC is an internationally recognised stamp that the forest is managed sustainably. The FC is audited annually by independent auditors (SGS – Swiss based) to make sure that it is upholding standards. Classified as a large woodland owner the FC has to reach a much higher standard against the audit criteria than a small woodland owner. The FSC award does not go with the forest – it goes with the manager. So if the FC is sold off potentially the whole area could drop out of the FSC scheme – massively embarrasing for a government trying to lecture Brazil, etc.

4. As mentioned above, the FC regulates private forests in the authority role. The government is proposing that if a woodland is registered under the scheme that the FC will no longer regulate it. It follows on from this ide then that as the FC estate is registered with FSC then it will no longer be required to be regulated by any government organisation. This so obviously smacks of one rule for private, one for public it’s just ridiculous.


Totally agree with the above posts. True believers might be interested to know that it was in fact John Major’s Govt in 1992, which introduced the legislation…

Read the original Forum topic and join the debate.

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