A MILLIONAIRE metal trader is one of dozens of wealthy landowners being paid public money to grow forests on their estates.
A charitable trust run by Derek Raphael – who made his millions trading in exotic metal – was handed almost £700,000 to planT around 500,000 trees on his land near Moffat in Dumfriesshire.
Raphael – who lives in London – said the cash would go towards tree-planting which would “make Scotland a beautiful environment.”
The cash figure was the second largest handout last year in a government-backed scheme to increase woodlands across Scotland.
Other landowners who have been awarded handsome sums include Mohamed al-Fayed, the former Harrods owner thought to be worth around £1.3bn.
Around 530,000 trees have been planted on his Balnagown estate in Ross-shire – with a £300,000 grant.
The biggest payout was made to Strathvaich Farms in Ross-shire – its owner, Patrick Creasey, was handed just over £1m to plant trees.
last week Creasey made a call for more fellow lairds to apply for such subsidies – to “play their part” in conserving rural Scotland.
He said: “I see the overwhelming priority for any custodian of land as being one of maintaining and if possible improving the condition of the land.
“Were funding not available, I would still have attempted some woodland planting, but this would have been limited by financial constraints to a scale that would be far too small to make the sort of transformation that is needed.”
Mr Raphael added: “These trees will last for 100 years and we wanted to create something for the long-term beneficiaries of the trust.”
Nine woodland creation grants are currently available, all awarded from money made available by the EU to rural businesses.
But Jonathan Isaby- chief executive of the Taxpayer’s Alliance – said: “Taxpayers will question why they have to foot the bill to plant these trees.
“Perhaps the government should look at other ways of funding schemes like this.”
Ministers have pledged to plant 250,000 acres of new woodland between 2012 and 2022 – and have put aside more than £250m for the cause.
Since 2012 planting rates have increased to an average of 20,000 acres a year, and around 48m trees have been planted.
A spokesman for the Forestry Commission said that three quarters of all new woodland planted in the UK was in Scotland last year.