SCOTTISH Forestry has announced it is implementing temporary measures including a pause on processing grant scheme applications, as the industry continues to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The focus, Scottish Forestry said, will be on dealing with existing grant applications, paying claims and taking forward felling permissions.

As part of the new measures, there will be a temporary pause of six weeks from the 9th of February to 22 March on processing new forestry grant scheme applications.

All applications that were submitted before the 9th of February will be processed as normal.

Scottish Forestry said the measures are needed as there has been an unprecedented increase in woodland creation applications, up 33 per cent on the previous year. Added to this, the ongoing COVID-19 situation has put tremendous extra pressure on Scottish Forestry teams.

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Brendan Callaghan, head of operational delivery at Scottish Forestry, said: “Despite the ongoing pandemic, our staff have shown great resilience and flexibility and provided an impressive level of service.

“However, with the COVID-19 restrictions, and a dramatic increase in woodland creation applications, we need to re-prioritise our workload. 

“By taking this action now we will be able to carry out the most important areas of work and continue to support the industry.”

Scottish Forestry said it will review the temporary measures in a month’s time, and the short-term measure does not affect future Scottish Government woodland creation targets or the payment of grants.

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