Aberdeen City Council – Woodland Creation Grant Schemes
Im writing with regard to the current situation in Aberdeen regarding woodland creation projects.
031/000390 – Tullos Community Woodland
This is a failed WGS planting scheme. The scheme failed due to inadequate protection from deer and weeds. On the 4th November 2010 we issued Aberdeen City Council with an invoice for £43,831.90 – the reclaim of monies paid out under the above contract. This invoice was to be paid within 30 days. The monies have not been received. This invoice is now accruing interest and has led to a payment ban being put in place over your Business Reference Number.
4098147 – Granity City Woodlands Phase 1
On the 15th February I inspected the Seaton and St Fittocks areas of the above case. It appeared that there has been near 100% damage to these trees by roe deer, and I understand this to also be the case at Greenferns. I advised the council on the 29th of June 2010 that sites vulnerable to roe deer damage would need to be protected – to date you have been unable to agree to undertake adequate protection measures.
I have no option but to place a hold on further payments on this case – you are due £25,885.20 on these three areas over the next five years. I would also like to remind you that as per your contract, if you fail to establish these areas of woodland then the council will be liable for a reclaim of up to £120,333.91 (based on the capital grants paid to you so far on these three areas only).
4158709 – Granite City Woodlands Phase 2 and 4381713 – Tullos Hill Community Woodland
You have two further SRDP-RP applications in the system for your next phase of plantings. Based on the fact that you have been unable to satisfactorily resolve the tree protection issue on your existing contracts I cannot allow these cases to go any further forward.
It is clear that the above issues require a definitive decision to be made regarding protection of the trees from damage by roe deer. You have been given full, best practice advice and assistance on these matters from ourselves and SNH. If you wish to avoid further sizeable grant reclaims and fulfil your commitment to plant a tree for every resident then this issue needs to be dealt with.
Aberdeen City Council have a good working relationship with Forestry Commission Scotland here in Grampian. FCS clearly supports and indeed praises the council for committing to these woodland expansion projects. However we, along with our colleagues in SNH and SEPA have given a large amount of staff time to these matters. This time has a very significant non-cash cost to it and we must ensure good value for public money through this and the capital grants we have paid out.
I look forward to continuing the positive relationship we have developed over recent years, but I must have your assurances that the issues above will be dealt with in a satisfactorily and timely manner to prevent further repayment of grant and embarrassment to the council.
Dan Cadle – Woodland Officer
Direct dial: 01224 441661 Mobile: 07979 022956 Email: email@example.com
CJ Piper and Co Chartered Foresters