Stars campaign to save England's forests
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Wed Jan 26 23:01:31 GMT 2011
1. An attempt to change the law governing
ownership of the public forests is already
underway. Ministers are trying to seize the
authority to sell all our forests through three
short clauses inserted into the Public Bodies
Bill, which is currently being debated in the House of Lords.
Why are they seeking authority to dispose of the
forests prior to any consultation, without
presenting any concrete proposals, and in a Bill
primarily addressing a completely different question?
Jim Paice MP, Minister for Agriculture and Food,
has been frank about the reason: opportunities
for legislation do not come very often.
2. This proposal has already been rejected in
Wales and Scotland. In Scotland a previous
campaign against radical privatisation of public
forests was led by Chief Secretary of the
Treasury Danny Alexander, now a member of the Cabinet.
3. Although the government requires a change in
the law to sell the entirety of the English
public forests, it is already planning a sale of
15% of the estate, for which it believes no
permission is required. This amounts to 40,000
hectares of land an area larger than the Isle of Wight.
4. Our public forests are managed to balance
economic, social and environmental objectives and
to provide timber, recreation, access and
conservation for the benefit of all and in
perpetuity. Although some protections will be
maintained through legislation like the
Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW), there
will be no guarantee of continued provision for
horse-riders, cyclists or dog-walkers, and the
high standard of access and accessibility
currently maintained will not be required.The
former Chair of the Forestry Commission has
outlined some of the risks involved in a
widespread sale here, while Jonathan Leake in the
Sunday Times (paywall) has described the chilling
effects of previous forest sales on public access and enjoyment.
5. At the time of writing, over 158,000 people
have signed the online petition rejecting the current proposals.
Serious concerns have also been registered by,
among many others, the Woodland Trust, the
Confederation of Forest Industries, the RSPB, the
Wildlife Trusts, the British Horse Society, the Ramblers and the Kennel Club.
Local campaigning groups are building support in
areas as diverse as the Forest of Dean, Haldon
Forest near Exeter, Thetford Forest in East
Anglia, Cannock Chase, the Lake District and
Sherwood Forest, and new groups are forming
rapidly. Find out how to get involved by clicking What can I do? at the top.
Stars campaign to save our forests
by Adrian Shaw, Daily Mirror 24/01/2011
LEADING public figures and celebrities launched a
campaign yesterday to stop the Tory-led coalition
selling some of Britains beautiful public forests.
The Government wants to raise up to £100million
by selling 15% of Forestry Commission land.
But Save Englands Forests has been formed in
protest, with members including Dame Judi Dench,
Annie Lennox and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
In a letter to the Coalition, signed by almost
100 dignitaries, they say: We, who love and use
the forests, believe that such a sale would be misjudged and shortsighted.
It is our heritage. We are an island nation yet
more people escape to the forest than the seaside.
A weekend opinion poll showed 75% of people are
against the sale. Many fear our forests would be destroyed if sold off.
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