In your correspondent’s lament for the conversion of her old family farm to commercial forestry in the Canonbie area (May 23 edition), she suggests that this has happened against the recommendations of the Woodland Expansion Advisory Group (WEAG).

Whereas it is hard for us to judge how closely the process of afforestation followed these recommendations, WEAG did attempt to deal with what is an ongoing concern for many both within and without the farming community: namely that of whole farm planting.

In its recommendation, the WEAG report stated that ‘the quality of the land in a local context, should be considered’ when afforestation is proposed.

Implicit in this wording was the need for the farming industry to develop a strategic approach to land-use which could be articulated at a local scale, either at a parish, catchment or landscape scale.

The failure to do this was reflected more recently in the 1.50 Farming Report which suggested a threshold of 30% of whole farm planting to trigger such a local analysis (identified as a ‘public interest test’).

This failure should be something that Regional Land Use Partnerships could correct but the lack of action from either the Government or the private sector does not give us much hope that a transparent process regarding local impacts of larger scale land use change will ever be developed.

It certainly won’t come from the forest industry so perhaps the agricultural sector needs to show some leadership here.

Nigel Miller (former chair, Farming for 1.50 report, ‘From here to 2045’) and Andrew Barbour (former chair, Woodland Expansion Advisory Group, report 2012)