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Lord Beaumont of Whitley: My Lords, can the Minister explain what national interest there can possibly be in the development by Rank of a holiday village in an area of outstanding natural beauty? "National" does not appear to enter into it.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, the situation with regard to AONBs is that the more rural areas of the country are parts of the national economy and must be taken into account. I hope that I have provided the noble Lord with a satisfactory answer as to the factual position. If the noble Lord remains dissatisfied I am sure he will write to me and we can take the matter further.
Dealing with more general forestry issues, I assure the House that the Government are committed to a continued increase in the areas of woodland in Britain. Woods and forests provide many benefits to all the people of Britain. However, as the noble Duke, the Duke of Buccleuch, said, in his very knowledgeable and important contribution to the debate, each year they produce 7 million tonnes of timber which is in great demand by industry. Over £1.3 billion has been invested in the processing industry over the past 10 years. Well planned woods and forests greatly enhance our landscape. They are very important in increasing biodiversity in Britain, are essential habitats for rare wildlife, provide extensive opportunities for leisure, relaxation and, perhaps more importantly, if we are to protect public access in the future, promote knowledge of the valuable economic resource provided by woods and forests and the importance of maintaining public access and the interests of those who earn their living in forestry. We are committed to supporting forestry and helping it to expand, while also setting standards for the sustainable management of existing woods and forests in Britain.
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