Scottish wood processors have breathed a sigh of relief after controversial plans to lease parts of Scotland’s national forests to private companies were ditched.

Scotland environment minister Roseanna Cunningham’s announcement to drop plans to lease 25% of the Forestry Commission estate to a single entity for 75 years follows public consultation in which 71% of the 500 responses were negative about the leasing proposals.

The UK Forest Products Association (UKFPA) and Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF) both campaigned against leasing. WPIF director-general Alastair Kerr warned that the wood processing industry could have lost out if leases were granted to a power company, which may wish to deny purchasing opportunities to competitors.

UKFPA president Gordon Callander said that the members were “pleased and relieved” at the outcome. “Whilst we all wish to see increased focus on commercial woodland creation in Scotland, wood processors were very seriously concerned about the impact that leasing of some of Scotland’s prime productive commercial forests to a single entity for 75 years could have on continuity and security of wood supply and as a consequence, confidence in the sector,” he said.

UKFPA executive director David Sulman said he hoped the minister and officials in Forestry Commission Scotland would be willing to work with industry representatives to identify appropriate and sustainable solutions to the challenge of creating more woodland in Scotland.

“We need more commercial conifer forestry established as a priority in order to guarantee supplies for the wood processing sector in the coming years,” he said.

Ms Cunningham said other options include developing joint ventures on renewable energy projects, making the Scotland Rural Development Programme more effective in stimulating woodland creation, urging the Treasury to consider tax incentives and continuing to dispose of surplus land to raise income to establish new woodlands.