Minutes of Forest Enterprise Scotland Management

Minutes of Forest Enterprise Scotland Management
Board Meeting held at FESHO/VC on 10 July 2013
Simon Hodge, Chief Executive
Les Bryson, Head of Operations (Agenda Items 3, 5, 6 and 7)
Moira Baptie, Head of Environment
Alan Stevenson, Head of Communities, Recreation and Tourism
Laurie Tyson, Head of Estates
Michael Ansell, Head of Forest Renewables
Niall Browne, HR Business Partner (Scotland)
Doug Knox, Projects & Programmes Support Manager
Suilven Pielou, Renewables Programme Manager (Agenda Item 8)
Hugh Clayden, Tree Health Policy Adviser (Agenda Item 6)
Ben Griffin, FES Survey Co-ordinator (Agenda Item 6)
Mike Green, Harvesting & Marketing Officer (Agenda Item 6)
Ian Murgatroyd, Plant Health Reg. Manager (North) (Agenda Item 6)
Rob Soutar, FDM Galloway (Agenda Item 6)
Frances MacKenzie (Secretary)
Apologies: Alan Duncan, Michael Hymers, Jo Ellis
The minutes of the meeting held on 10 June were accepted as a true and accurate
AP 2.1: Niall to look at emerging recruitment challenges. A paper being worked on
at the moment.
AP Discharged
AP 2.2: Revised JEG's/Benchmarking Process - Niall has met with Oriana and will
now revert to Recruitment Panel re cleansing of job titles.
AP Rolled Over
AP 2.3: Jo Ellis to firm upon on figures for woodland creation and revisit at the next
board meeting in August.
AP Rolled Over
AP 2.4: Gordon Donaldson to complete revised project proposals for DML Wardens
House and landscaping. Being presented later under AOB.
AP Discharged
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Frances MacKenzie
AP 2.5: Michael Hymers to arrange for Ben Griffin, Mike Green, Hugh Clayden and
Rob Soutar to present a session at the July meeting on Plant Health.
AP Discharged
AP 2.6: All Board Members - Risk register updates back to Linda MacLeod by 12 July.
AP Discharged
AP 2.7: Alan D/Michael H facilitate costs centres to look at admin running costs
across the organisation for the next BP round.
AP Discharged
AP 2.8: Jo/Michael H to propose a 3 year rolling target for woodland creation.
AP Rolled Over
AP 2.9: Les/Michael H to propose adjusting timber production target to a timber
marketing target, which would be less affected by poor customer uplift; and to
consider an alternative to the DP unit cost as an indicator of business
AP Rolled Over
AP 2.10: PMS - Niall to discuss further with L&D and come back to the Board.
Board's views have been passed on and taken on board.
AP Discharged
AP 2.11: Health & Safety - Les/Moira to discuss training requirements from both an
operational and environmental point of view and pass to L&D. Dealt with.
AP Discharged
AP 2.12: Health & Safety - Les to engage with the Safety Committee on safety boots
and use of safety glasses.
AP Rolled Over
AP 2.13: Health & Safety - Michael H to communicate with project managers to
ensure that our staff are pro-active and implement best practice on construction sites.
AP Discharged
AP 2.14: Organisational/Functional Update (Web Commerce) - Alan D to resume
discussion on web commerce once analysis is available.
AP Rolled Over
AP 2.15: Organisational/Functional Update (DNB chemical spraying trial) - Jo to
check with Hugh Clayden re community engagement.
AP Rolled Over
Laurie updated the Board on the current position and the main points are summarised
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Frances MacKenzie
Concluding this month on Garshake Farm
Still awaiting Minister's decision on 2 cases in West Argyll FD
Progressing a number of cases as best we can given the awaited publication of
WEAG guidance, with several new LTA's circulating
Short Term Leasing:
Auchnagillan agreement and lease documents have now been signed
We have sold £0.381m to date with a further £2.501m under offer
Strong interest has been shown in North Otter and Ormidale with a closing date
planned for early/mid August
Lots of interest in Moray and Aberdeenshire plantations that are on the market
with a further six due to come on
Farmhouses: The forecasted target of £1.5m should be achievable.
Rationalisation Sales: Whilst there is continued interest in Chapelhall, we have
no offers and as this is the largest sale within this head Donald expresses
concern that we will meet our target. Looking at other rationalisation sales
which might be brought forward.
Plantations FY 14/15: Ongoing and working towards marketing of repositioning
properties in the autumn including The Barracks, Monachyle Glen and
Simon outlined scenarios for analysis of any future repositioning programme. We now
have a first sift list and Simon/Donald McLellan have discussed how further analysis of
these can be carried out in parallel. Information will be provided to Alan S, Laurie,
Michael A and Moira. Donald will review recent sales and ascribe indicative values to
the properties identified. Consideration needs to be given to impacts on the likes of
timber production commitments, social delivery, environmental delivery and
renewables interest.
AP 3.1: Donald to review recent sales and ascribe indicative values to future
Simon gave an overview on 13/14 - 15/16 Business Plan.
2013/14 BP: Estimated figures have been agreed but there is the possibility of a
further SG cut.
Awaiting clarification of likely SG funding in the next Spending Review
Simon asked for any feedback on the outline business plan income assumptions from
Les, Michael and Laurie.
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Frances MacKenzie
Main points summarised below:
Increased programme on restock. Zoe Laird has produced restocking forecasts
from design plans. Les/Jo to discuss and feedback to Simon on strategic
implications and living within the outline Business plan figures.
MES - We want to avoid a move back to leasing VME as this embeds future
cost commitments. However, we will need to reduce VME purchases to stay
within budget.
Legal Advice and agents fees (Estates) - Move to self billing which will include
an electronic form for initial instruction and will restrict the number of parties
able to instruct lawyers. Michael H to investigate how the new ERMS system
might help us to better manage our use of legal advice.
Legal Advice (HR and Procurement) - Michael H, Alan D and Niall to review
gatekeeping of contacts to solicitors.
AP 4.1:
Jo to discuss with Les and feedback to Simon on future restocking
AP 4.2: Michael H to look into how ERMS system might help us better manage our
use of legal advice
AP 4.3: Michael H, Alan D and Niall to review gatekeeping of contacts to solicitors
Staffing: Simon gave an overview on the staffing situation for the 13/14 - 15/16 BP
period. Over the last year 15 new posts have been approved. Our headcount has
been inflated by the growth in the number of apprentices and internships but the
underlying figure for occupied posts is around 800. Some pressure is currently being
felt, for example on FM with North Highland, Moray and Aberdeenshire, Tay and
Lochaber. The posts flagged through the pre-BP process now need to be evaluated
and ranked by the Board.
Simon asked we start a new evaluation process as we have no sense of priorities for
posts being sought at present.
AP 4.4: All Board Members - To consider the ragging of priority posts.
AP 4.5: Les - To consider CECS and MECS country requirements and staffing
implications going forward.
Les Bryson advised that the FC Health and Safety Strategy has been formally
launched and a briefing pack sent to managers to disseminate the information by way
of a series of cascades. A short film has also been included in the pack in which FC
Chairman Sir Harry Studholme talks with staff about safety; the film is seen as a
starting point to get group conversations going and it emphasises that all staff should
be prepared to challenge and be challenged regardless if the person is more senior or
in a different team. It is envisaged that all staff will be briefed by the end of August
and that the new Scotland Action Plan will be produced and signed off sometime in
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Frances MacKenzie
AP 5.1: All Board Members - Ensure that staff within their specific teams are
involved in the H&S briefing and that it is done in a way that ensures that staff get
both the wider briefing and a discussion session relevant to their domain of work.
Simon welcomed Hugh Clayden, Mike Green, Ben Griffin, Ian Murgatroyd and Rob
Soutar to the meeting.
Hugh Clayden started off the discussion by giving an update on the latest state of play
with P. ramorum in Scotland.
Aerial surveys in June/July had confirmed a major expansion, coupled with rapid
symptoms expression, in the Galloway area. Elsewhere the speed of progression and
rapidity of symptom development was not evident although this needed to continue to
be monitored as the season progressed. The apparent difference in progression was
thought to be associated with either differential climatic conditions (drier in the north)
or the new EU2 lineage (currently known only from Galloway and Northern Ireland),
or both.
At a meeting called by FCS with key stakeholders on 20 June there had been general
agreement that tree health effort now needed to be focused outside the core infected
area (the ‘red zone’) in Galloway and that this should involve a bold approach
(Statutory Plant Health Notices to specify felling of entire stands of larch in which
infection had been found plus all other larch within 250m of those stands). Within the
red zone, larch removal would be driven by operational and marketing considerations
together with prioritised removal of larch in those areas which would achieve greatest
benefit in terms of outward spore dispersal from the red zone, landscape/recreation
considerations, and public safety.
Within the red zone the intention was to implement a general ‘Order’ relating only to
timber movement. Until such an Order was in place, individual SPHNs (or FES
equivalent) to that effect would need to be issued. Outside the red zone, SPHNs (or
FES equivalent) would require felling of larch by a given date and with associated
timber movement stipulations.
FCS and FES needed to develop a communications package for the Galloway outbreak
in particular.
The Scottish Timber Market Impacts Group were engaged with the marketing and
utilisation aspects of Ramorum in Scotland (liaising with England and Wales) and were
also exploring the implications for bark treatment/utilisation.
HC was liaising with FC GB Plant Health colleagues to ensure continued compliance
with the EU emergency phytosanitary measures specified in 2002.
Guidance on future larch planting/restocking will need to be developed.
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The potential for another ‘species jump’ was of potential concern to the forestry sector
but current evidence suggests this is not a high risk. Continued vigilance was
FES had set up an OMT to manage the Forest Enterprise Scotland response to the
Ramorum epidemic on larch in Scotland. Its first meeting was scheduled for 12 July.
Simon Hodge has requested designation of a 'lead person' for Ramorum in Scotland
and it was agreed this would be the subject of further discussion at the FCSMB on 17
Doug Knox updated the board on the status of projects and programmes. Whilst
progress and practice has been generally good, SROs for a number of projects were
coming back to the board asking for additional funds because of compensation events,
unanticipated costs or high tender returns. There are also cases where project scope
is being reduced as a cost saving measure, but then supplementary projects are put
up to fund the de-scoped work.
After a lot of discussion on the various projects there was reaffirmation of the
importance of a sufficient lead in time for detailed planning, identification of risks,
getting planning and environmental consents in place and obtaining robust costings
before final FESMB approval. It was also recognised that several projects involved
existing structures which had not had investment for a considerable period of time
and which have been challenging to evaluate.
Regarding future projects, Doug agreed to write out to Cost Centre Managers asking
them to put forward any new large scale project proposals (£100k +) for FESMB
review. Priority projects would then be agreed for working up in more detail so they
were ready to start if "shovel ready" money/FES direct funding became available.
The Board also noted the positive feedback on project health and safety management.
AP 7.1: Doug Knox to provide evidence to the October meeting on our practices
around contingency levels and optimum bias.
AP 7.2: Doug Knox to collate and present a list of potential new projects to the next
board meeting on 15 August for prioritisation and subsequent project planning.
Some of the projects discussed:
Cairnbaan Workshop: Application for planning consent with planners this week.
Issues over drainage being investigated.
Fishish Pier: Satisfactory progress being made on construction but Laurie to
push ahead with completion of land acquisition.
Galloway Visitor Centres:
Glentrool has been handed back to FES with
Clatteringshaws to follow fairly soon.
Cunnigar Loop: Delivery timeline, spend profile and target cost under review.
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Frances MacKenzie
Glenmore Sewage Works: ALA estimates that sign-off will be achieved late
summer 2013.
Insurance for buildings at Galloway: Laurie to check position regarding shared
shop and café. Similar situation to the visitor centre at Glentress. Insurance
should be restricted to buildings where we share occupation with a tenant.
AP 7.3: Laurie to confirm and clarify insurance cover at Galloway VCs.
Suilven Pielou presented the following schemes in Lochaber Forest District for
development by Green Highland Renewables.
Allt Cheanna Muir (800kW, Loch Arkaig):
infrastructure on neighbouring land.
joint scheme.
2 owners.
Allt Camus a Choire (630kW, Loch Sunart) 68% penstock and powerhouse on
our land.
Allt Glas Dhoire (100kW, Clunes): Concern about campsite in the vicinity. How
the tailrace would affect it. Mitigation on rec interest. Outfall – using same
approach. Putting a box on the tailrace any noise and flow of water will go into
a box further up the scheme. House the machinery in a turbine house with
extra soundproofing. Noise of the tailrace won’t be of any concern.
Allt Ruighe Blair (100kW, Invergarry): YES with the provision that the detailed
proposals will take into account the requirements for Coire Ghlas if it comes to
The Board agreed approval to move to option, with the proviso that the detailed
proposals for Allt Ruighe Blair will take into account the possible Coire Ghlas
Simon presented the Risk Management paper and the Board discussed the top risks.
Risk 38 will be expanded to cover our risk analysis of pests and diseases as under:
DNB significantly impacts on operational costs and harvesting income
DNB significantly impacts on strategic delivery eg by setting back forest
diversification, affecting CRT provision, reducing species choice and impacting
on production forecasts
DNB threatens native pinewoods
P.Ramourum significantly impacts on operational costs and harvesting income
P.Ramourum significantly impacts on strategic delivery eg by setting back
forest diversification, affecting CRT provision, reducing species choice and
impacting on production forecasts
Failure to implement Chalara and P Austrocedrae management measures on the
NFE further threatens native species
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Frances MacKenzie
It was suggested that the emerging risk on Cairnbaan Workshop refurbishment be
expanded to cover pressures on project budgets and timetables.
Michael A updated the Board as follows:
PfR have launched an appeal following the initial planning refusal for the
Carron Valley site. A determination is hoped for by end July 2013.
Hydro developers are still concerned about DECC plans to trigger lower
payment rates based on the numbers/MW of pre-accredited schemes.
Moira: Discussed and agreed not to include SP for CPI zones in the plant demand
cube for 2015/16 and beyond this year. Will be reviewed before next year's BP input.
Laurie: Updated the Board on the Scottish Coal situation. We are talking positively
with Hargreaves who are taking over most of the Scottish Coal sites on the NFE from
the liquidators.
Niall: Interviews being held shortly for the vacancy created by Mike Cowan's
promotion on TRA.
Alan S: The Planning Minister visited the recently completed Ardgarten Forest
Holidays site with the Depute Chief Planning Officer, as part of a visit organised by
Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. This provided an opportunity to explain
FCS role, including in relation to tourism. Feedback was positive.
Two new members of staff have been recruited to fill the posts of Web/Digital
Manager and Web Editor.
Simon: A meeting of the key organisations is being arranged by Cairngorm National
Parks to discuss the long term vision for Cairngorm Mountain.
A new list to be prepared for the August meeting to allow a ranking exercise.
PID - The Lodge House Re-development Project:
was requested by the district for 2013/14.
A further amount of £210k
PID - the Lodge Landscaping Project: An additional £129,500 was requested
for external landscaping and car park surfacing at David Marshall Lodge.
The Board did not agree to the further redevelopment of the Lodge House at this time.
The Board agreed that the house be made sound through the normal buildings
maintenance budget, and that potential uses for the building be reconsidered once
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Frances MacKenzie
David Marshall Lodge is again fully operational. Experience from Glentress suggests
that a range of service delivery businesses may become interested in a base from
which to operate at David Marshall Lodge.
On the landscaping project, the Board agreed that the works would add value; but
that this should be remitted into the normal business plan and variance process to be
considered against other districts' priorities.
Auchlochan in Scottish Lowlands FD received Scottish Finest Woods award for
new commercial planting.
The next meeting of FESMB is on 7/8 August 2013.
FESMB Board Minutes
Frances MacKenzie