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Last Updated: Monday, 15 November, 2004, 14:37 GMT
Forest land sale to boost housing
North Harris
The plan would see an increase in affordable housing in rural areas
Communities across Scotland could be given the chance to buy or lease national forest land under Scottish Executive proposals.

Scotland's Deputy Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Lewis MacDonald said it would be based on the principles of the Community Right-to-Buy scheme.

If approved, communities would have first option to buy forest land when it went on the market.

The plan is in a paper entitled The National Forest Land scheme.

The Forestry Commission Scotland and Communities Scotland have looked at offering forestry land to increase the availability of affordable housing.

We need to ensure that the national forest estate works harder for people in Scotland
Lewis MacDonald
Deputy Rural Affairs Minister
Speaking at the Scottish Forestry Forum in Loch Lomond, Mr MacDonald said national forests offered great potential in economic, environmental and social terms.

"We need to ensure that the national forest estate works harder for people in Scotland and this new consultation paper strives to put people and communities top of the agenda," he said.

"The proposed National Forest Land Scheme has three parts: community acquisition, sponsored sale of surplus land and land for affordable housing.

"Based on the principles of the Community Right to Buy scheme, it will provide a more flexible route for the purchase or lease of land managed by Forestry Commission Scotland."

Communities wishing to buy or lease national forest land will have to demonstrate that their proposals will benefit the community and be in the wider public interest.

The scheme will go out to public consultation until February 2005.

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