Minutes of Forest Enterprise Scotland Management

Minutes of Forest Enterprise Scotland Management
Board Meeting held at FESHO/VC on 10 June 2013
Simon Hodge, Chief Executive
Les Bryson, Head of Operations
Moira Baptie, Head of Environment
Jo Ellis, Head of Planning
Alan Duncan, Head of Finance
Michael Hymers, Head of Corporate Support
Alan Stevenson, Head of Communities, Recreation and Tourism
Laurie Tyson, Head of Estates
Michael Ansell, Head of Renewables
Niall Browne, HR Business Partner (Scotland)
Ian Rae, Head of Finance Services
Andy Greathead, Smiths Gore
Graeme Prest, FDM Inverness
Frances MacKenzie (Secretary)
The minutes of the meeting held on 13 May are approved as a true and accurate
AP 2.1: Niall to look at emerging recruitment challenges (planning posts) and
recommend a longer term solution. This is ongoing as Niall is expanding the area to
be looked at (including civil engineers) to see what issues exist. It was suggested
that a starting point might be to speak to our sandwich year students as a number of
them are being recruited to the private sector due to a better package being offered.
AP rolled over
AP 2.2: Revised JEG's/Benchmarking Process - Niall to discuss with Jean Lindsay and
Oriana and revert to the Board with a proposal for a benchmarking exercise,
particularly focused on PB6. There is quite a lot of work involved with this action point
and Niall is having a meeting with Oriana this week.
AP rolled over
AP 2.3: Acquisitions and Disposals - The current programme agreed with Ministers
extends to 31 March 2015. Laurie/Simon to discuss with David Howat formulation of
options for any repositioning required through the next Spending Review period.
Laurie/Simon drawing together a document to circulate to the board which will include
feedback from district managers.
AP Discharged
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Frances MacKenzie
AP 2.4: Acquisitions and Disposals - Laurie to look into funding of short term
woodland creation leases. This item covered later.
AP Discharged
AP 2.5: Risk Management - All board members to review the Risk Register and pass
charges to Alan D by Wednesday 29 May 2013. Covered later.
AP Discharged
AP 2.6: Career Development Focus Group Outcomes - Niall and Nicky to discuss and
clarify development opportunities. Work ongoing.
AP Discharged
AP 2.7: Career Development Focus Group Outcomes - Niall, Nicky and Michael H to
look into arranging a meeting with FDMs/AOMs/board members. Dates now in diaries.
AP Discharged
AP 2.8: Mike Cowan to look into opportunities to offer part time options when posts
are advertised. Ongoing.
AP Discharged
AP 2.9: Charlie/Moira to consider and propose the composition of a productive
broadleaves programme/project board. Meetings currently being set up with districts
and board members also invited to attend as diaries permit.
AP Discharged
Revised target is £4.5m which is a reduction of £0.25m on last month to cover
the Carserigg new planting carry forward and repairs at the Glenside Starter
Farm. This sum will also have to cover other acquisitions up to £0.8m
(including the land at Mull Pier) and Short Term Leasing costs of £0.16m.
An estate in south Scotland is likely to come to the market in July 2013 which
may offer significant opportunities for woodland creation integrated with
agriculture. LTA in circulation.
The purchase of Fannyside Muir was concluded on 3 May 2013. The land
purchase was £0.235m with compensation of £1.965m. Still awaiting word
from Scottish Government about funding.
Scottish Coal: We have made FCS aware of the expected £1.3m budget impact
of the liquidation of Scottish Coal.
Rest and Be Thankful: A very positive meeting has taken place with the
It may be possible to lease although acquisition may be
Transport Scotland willing to fund capital costs with FES
undertaking the planting of trees on approximately 100 - 150 ha to stabilise the
slope. It was accepted FCS would fund ongoing management of the area if
ownership/lease rests with FCS although further discussion required with TS to
clarify responsibility for potential costs/claims should there be further landslip in
the future.
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Frances MacKenzie
Short Term Leasing:
Laurie advised that Auchnagalin in Inverness, Ross and Skye has now been signed
and planting should take place next Spring. Burnmouth in Dumfries and Borders
should be signed by end June/early July also Lochside in North Highland is progressing
to legal agreement. The site in Tay FD is working out to be very expensive and will
have to be looked at very carefully before we move forward.
Currently have £10.5m on the market or with solicitors
Five plantations at Kemnay in Aberdeenshire (asking price £1.3m) are
scheduled for market. There is local stakeholder interest in some of these sites.
Rosal and Syre both on the market.
Rationalisation and farmhouse sales are currently on track.
Alan D provided the FE Scotland Management Board with an update on the financial
position for 2013/14 and to agree figures to be reported to FC Scotland.
Business Monitoring Reports - Timing and Frequency of Reports: The majority
of people are in favour of keeping with 4 full formal reporting exercises (plus
adhoc reports as required). These will be P/E June with BMR available at end
May for input, P/E September with BMR available at end August for input, P/E
November in place of p/e December and P/E March.
As advised in Acquisitions and Disposals item the budget has been reduced to
Woodland Creation - The target is 812 ha with districts budgeting for 701 ha.
Some districts have indicated to the Planning team that they may not achieve
their budget targets.
AP 4.1: Jo Ellis to firm up on figures for woodland creation and revisit at the next
board meeting in July.
Significant variances amounting to just under £0.4m (excluding coal income
covered under para 3) have been reported by some districts. Question marks
against Timber Crop Compensation at A'Chruach, Clashindarroch and Cross
Kintyre Interconnector which have not all been finalised. Agreed that this is
currently a manageable sum.
DML Wardens House - The budget provision in FY 12/13 has now lapsed and no
provision has been made in the 2013/14 budget. The board agreed that the
FDM should provide a Business Case for the house alone. Other aspects such
as paving, link to biomass heating from Lodge, landscaping, connecting to
mains sewage etc can either be cover from revenue funds as appropriate, or be
submitted as a separate case.
AP 4.2: Gordon Donaldson to complete revised project proposals.
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After discussion the board agreed that in future the Risk Register will be revised and
updated at 6 monthly intervals (end September and end March). However, as the
2012/13 Annual Accounts will be signed off on 19 July and papers going to the ARC a
week before (including the Risk Register), it was agreed that there were some major
changes that should be reflected in the register now, so the ARC have sight of the
current position.
The top risks were also discussed and it was agreed that Jo Ellis would review
Woodland Creation, Simon will look at the Plant Health risks with a view to breaking
these down into individual component risks and Laurie would review the impacts of
the coal situation. Changes to be sent to Linda MacLeod by 8 July at the latest.
AP 5.1: 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 5.2: All Board Members - Risk register updates back to Linda MacLeod by 12 July.
Alan D reported that on the whole the cashflow result was pretty good. Some lessons
to be learned:
Cashflow monitoring in the latter part of the year continues to be difficult as we
chase income and large amounts of non operational spend occurs late in the
year. It would be beneficial if disposals income was received earlier in the year.
Impairments - This area to be reviewed and build in a robust monitoring and
forecasting system in future.
Roads - A number of overspends across districts and an area where forecasting
could be improved.
Capital - On VME a significant element of payments were processed during the
last week. A smaller budget should prevent the need for late deliveries during
13/14. Projects are going well on the whole but some rescheduling has
resulted in additional 13/14 resource requirement.
Admin (excluding salaries) - Cost increased in this area will require much closer
monitoring during 13/14.
AP 6.1: Alan D/Michael H facilitate cost centres to look at admin running costs
across the organisation for the next BP round.
The Board discussed key agency targets and agreed some adjustments would be
helpful to ensure they remained relevant. Specifically:
AP 6.2: Jo/Michael to propose a three year rolling target for woodland creation.
Finally, Simon thanked Alan D and all those involved in finance for their hard work
during the last year.
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Frances MacKenzie
AP 6.3: Les/Michael 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
Simon welcomed Ian Rae, Head of Finance Services and Andy Greathead from Smiths
Gore to the meeting.
As part of the Forests and Woodland Land Valuation contract Smiths Gore have been
visiting sample sites and providing brief comments on the condition and silvicultural
practices (eg felling coupe sizes and windfirm boundaries, thinning regimes, ground
preparation and planting stock on restock sites, quality of road, access, management
of browsing pressure etc). On the whole the feedback is very positive.
Andy reported that his team had found the SCDB to be excellent.
the value of the NFE had risen by 2% over the year.
Ian reported that
Iain Brown and Doug Mitchell from Inverness, Ross & Skye FD presented this paper
and were seeking approval from the management board to allow the schemes to
progress through the agreed Development Framework.
Over the last 18 months Green Highland Renewables, FCS and key stakeholders have
collaborated closely to develop the schemes to the present stage.
The Grid
Connection route has been agreed and two issues remain outstanding.
Visual mitigation, reinstatement of penstock routes and detailed design of the
power houses. Agreement on these is expected this month.
Environment team review of draft EIA (finalised after above agreement),
indicating required additional work/amendments if required.
After due consideration the Board agreed that the project proceed to construction.
They emphasised the importance of good levels of communication with stakeholders
and maintaining environmental standards during the build. The Board complemented
Iain and Doug on their presentation.
Niall presented a paper to the board regarding the changes to the Performance
Management System and the introduction of the Civil Service Competency Framework
taking place in April 2014 and invited discussion about our approach to implementing
the changes.
The Civil Service Performance Management System is broadly the same as the current
FC system and the following elements will remain unchanged:
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Frances MacKenzie
Setting SMART objectives at the start of the performance year
Three performance ratings
Mid-year reviews with indicative ratings
End of year reviews
Benchmarking or standardising ratings
A PMS form that captures objectives and development needs
The Board discussed the roll-out/training proposals and suggested that the half-day
training sessions in October/November/December are too early for a system that will
not be implemented until 1 April 2014.
It was also felt that the FC competency framework is not fully understood by all staff,
particularly in the lower pay bands. The importance of key competencies needs to be
further embedded in our approach to performance management and staff
AP 9.1: Niall to discuss further with L&D and come back to the Board.
Les gave an update to the Board and some of the main items are summarised below:
British Columbia Forest Safety Council are touring the UK this month and
sharing forest practices with us
More H&S awareness required on Estates sites eg starter farms, derelict
The Board discussed whether strengthening the requirements for safety boots
would be appropriate
The Safety Committee to consider the procurement of personal protective
Safety Glasses - Safety Committee to alert staff to OGB26 which covers safety
Tailoring H&S training requirements for different parts of the business.
AP 10.1: Les/Moira to discuss training requirements from both an operational and
environmental point of view and pass to L&D.
AP 10.2: Les to engage with the Safety Committee on safety boots and use of
safety glasses.
AP 10.3: Michael H to communicate with project managers to ensure that our staff
are pro-active and implementing best practice on construction sites.
Les reminded everyone that this is a journey we are on and it will take several years
to change the safety culture in the forestry industry but reiterated that we are making
good progress so far.
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Frances MacKenzie
Hydro: Developers are concerned about DECC plans to trigger degression
(lower payments) rates based on the numbers/MW of pre-accredited schemes.
Still a lot of community interest in schemes with 17 currently active.
Wind: Still two long-standing issues with legal documentation with one of the
developers and we have been working on this for the last 9 months.
FSA Policy Statement issued which could rule out LLPs where communities are
Michael H: FC GB has been re-awarded ISO140001 status for another year.
contract with LRQA comes to an end at the end of this FY.
Alan D:
It is likely that the removal of EU Part B services will not be until 1 April 2015
(rather than April 2014). There may well be a limit before this applies so not all
tenders will have to advertise through the EU Journal.
FES draft Annual Accounts have been produced and are currently being audited
(signing due on 19 July).
Web commerce: We have now obtained a list of all the transactions for FY
12/13 showing value etc by cost centre. We will now do an analysis and feed
back to FESMB.
AP 12.1: Alan D to resume discussion on web commerce once analysis is available.
Alan S: Community Health Check: A working group for the Community Health Check
is now up and running. The group has four external members as well as Craig Millar,
Alan Stevenson and Bob Frost.
Michael A: We have prepared a set of standard scripts for developers to use in their
initial discussions with communities that comply with FSA requirements.
Laurie: A briefing on the Scottish Coal position has been sent to the Minister which
resulted in one or two questions, all satisfactorily dealt with.
Simon: Simon advised that RPID are using the FCS approach to establish a starter
farm on their holding near Inverness.
Jo: A DNB chemical spraying trial is being established on the NFE in Moray and
Aberdeenshire which is proceeding according to plan. FES are hosting the trial which
is being run by FCS and FR. Jo will check with Hugh Clayden re community
AP 12.2: Jo to check with Hugh Clayden re community engagement.
Niall: HR currently advertising to fill the vacancy left by Mike Cowan's development
opportunity promotion.
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Frances MacKenzie
Moira reported that the Minister had attended the State of Nature report
It was agreed to await the June figures before further consideration.
Nothing under this head.
The next meeting of FESMB is on 10 July 2013.
FESMB Board Minutes
Frances MacKenzie