This week’s announcement by Forestry Commission Scotland to abandon a move to plant trees on Corniehaugh Farm in Aberdeenshire has met with a cautious welcome from the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association.
Plans to plant trees on Corniehaugh, purchased in 2011 by FCS, sparked immediate objections from the local community, STFA and other farming organisations.
STFA has repeatedly called upon FCS to return Corniehaugh to agricultural production; the previous owners of the farm had operated a successful cattle enterprise and a contracting business.
Commenting on the latest development STFA director Angus McCall said: “We are pleased to see that the Forestry Commission has listened to local concerns and the views of the agricultural industry and has abandoned plans to plant a productive agricultural unit with trees in favour of creating another starter unit on Corniehaugh.
“However, this farm has the potential to provide a full-time living for a family if the most productive land is retained for agriculture.
“Although the creation of another starter farm will be most welcome there is also a desperate need for the provision of larger units to form a second rung in the ladder for new entrants moving on from a starter unit.
“We will be advising the commission to reconsider making the farm available to either a young farmer progressing from a starter unit or to a young farming family who have had a short term tenancy terminated as part of landowner manoeuvring due to CAP reform.
“We will also be cautioning the Commission against tree planting on Grade 3(2) land or on productive permanent pasture which could prejudice the future viability of the unit.”