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Timber Transport – Developing consultation and engagement guidance

When the Scottish Government published its Guidance on Engaging Communities in Decisions Relating to Land in 2018, it encouraged all sectors to work towards developing their own guidance. It was recommended that those considering this should approach the Scottish Land Commission (SLC) for advice. One of the first to do so was the Timber Transport Forum (TTF).

TTF is a partnership of the forestry and timber industries, local and national government, timber hauliers, and road and freight associations. TTF supports forestry by ensuring that timber industries can access and market the UK’s timber resource in a sustainable way. They work to minimise the impact of timber transport on the public road network, local communities and the environment. TTF also promotes voluntary measures to improve timber transport sustainability by producing Agreed Route Maps and through development of Good Practice. Project support for TTF is provided by Confor, the forestry and timber industry private sector representative body.

Approach

TTF already promoted consultation and engagement but wanted to formalise, review and improve this. They believe that forest harvesting and timber haulage are normal parts of forest management, regulated by Scottish Forestry (SF) and meeting the UK Forestry Standard and third party certification standards. However, they also wanted to make sure that their guidance acknowledged the potential for impact on communities and reflected the importance of engagement in this context.

The guidance was developed through communication, meetings, and reviews of drafts between TTF and the Scottish Land Commission during 2018-19. This was done alongside wider stakeholder consultation. Developing the guidance coincided with the Commission publishing the first Land Rights and Responsibilities Protocol for Community Engagement in Decisions Relating to Land which details the reasonable expectations for those who take decisions about land to engage with those who are affected. This was helpful for TTF and the Commission as there was an opportunity to learn from and offer feedback to one another. Transporting Timber on Public Roads – Consultation and Engagement Guidance (Scotland) was published in summer 2019.

Achievements and Learning 

TTF found the Protocol and the support from the Commission helpful in providing a framework and driver for shaping their revised guidance. This new guidance contains a Timber Haulage Consultation Protocol which delineates when engagement with communities should be considered. It also acknowledges that where the impact of timber transport is expected to be significant, more formal community engagement may be required. A good example of this can be found on the Isle of Eigg.

TTF found the suggested timescales in the Protocol challenging as they did not fit with various timeframes for forest planning, harvesting and haulage. However, working with the Commission to understand expectations and good practice enabled TTF to overcome this issue and develop guidance that meets the needs of their sector.

What's Next

TTF is running a programme of awareness-raising with Confor members and other sector bodies. Discussions at recent timber transport group meetings generated good debate and willingness to push towards better practice, and a joint SF/Commission presentation on community engagement will take place at the Timber Transport Conference in March 2020.

Find Out More

Roland Stiven                                                                            Kirsty Tait
Project Manager                                                                       Community Engagement Advisor
Timber Transport Forum                                                         Scottish Land Commission
Tel: 0131 240 1418                                                                  Tel: 07554 111878
Email: roland@confor.org.uk                                                  Email: Kirsty.Tait@landcommission.gov.scot