20 Apr 2011
_40,000 hectares still
to be sold, with no guarantee on the rest_
Defra recently announced that
the plan to sell off 15% of England's public forest - started under the
last government, and which was never subject to consultation but merely
postponed (1) - is to go ahead within the span of the spending review (2).
This means that 40,000 hectares will be sold within the next four years,
with no genuine guarantee on the future of England's remaining 218,000
The coalition's apparent u-turn on the forestry sale was
heralded as a victory of people power, with Environment Secretary Caroline
Spelman apologising in the House of Commons, saying "I am sorry, we got
this one wrong - but we have listened to people's concerns". (4) While
campaigners were rightly proud that the government seemed to have listened
to them, the fight is far from over.
This recent announcement, quietly
slipped out, unmasks the 'u-turn' as a mere stunt. The future of our forest
is far from secure. People value and enjoy English woodland, which is an
important part of our heritage. They want forests to be sustainably managed
in the interests of biodiversity and climate protection, and they do not
want their right of access to be removed or obstructed.
Penny Kemp, Green
Party Environment spokesperson said, "Yet again, we see the true colours of
this Coalition Government. They seem incapable of being truthful with the
public. This latest u-turn on a u-turn is being done by stealth. Far from
listening to the concerns of the public, they are treating them with
contempt. The public made it quite clear that they considered a 30p
investment by all to keep Britains forests in public ownership is
tremendous value for money."
The Green Party believes that our forests
should remain in public ownership. We want to work with the Forestry
Commission to improve environmental stewardship of natural spaces, striking
the right balance between public education, enjoyment, and preserving
forests as a haven for wildlife.
Posted by Derek Wall at 6:54 pm