Government urged to rethink forest sell off plan

Tony Gosling tony at
Thu Feb 3 22:27:35 GMT 2011

With video if you are on broadband.

Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Thursday, 3 February 2011
Government urged to rethink forest sell off plan

The government has come under further criticism over its plans to 
sell much of England's publicly owned woodland.

At Commons question time on 3 February 2011, MPs from all sides of 
the House pressed ministers to guarantee that the public would still 
be able to access England's national forests after the land had been 
sold or leased.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said ministers had repeatedly 
given assurances to MPs that access and public benefits would be protected.

But Labour, who tabled an opposition day debate on the proposed sell 
off on 2 February, called on the minister to "stop and think again" 
about pushing ahead with the plans.

The government launched a consultation on plans to sell off or lease 
England's 258,000-hectare public forest estate - currently managed by 
the Forestry Commission on behalf of the environment, food and rural 
affairs department - to the private sector or to not for profit 
organisations, last week.

Opponents of the move fear it could compromise nature protection and 
restrict public access to national woodland.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman told MPs: "We need to make it 
absolutely clear that this is a genuine consultation, unlike a lot of 
consultations that I experienced under the last government.

"We want as many people [as possible] to take part. It is a statutory 
three-month period. Ministers will reflect on those considerations 
and bring to the House our considered view in timely fashion."

But Mary Creagh, Labour's shadow environment secretary, said the 
government planned to sell off 10,000 hectares of public forest 
before the consultation was over.

This was more than was sold in Labour's entire period in office, she said.

"Isn't it the case with the public forests that the honourable lady 
does not know what she is doing or why she is doing it and nobody 
wants her to do it. Is it not time to stop and think again?" she asked.

Ms Spelman said it was under Labour that public forest estate was 
sold without any guarantee that public access rights would be protected.
+44 (0)7786 952037
"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."

"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which 
alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list